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There Might Grow Rosés Which Sing

There Might Grow Rosés Which Sing

OK, the title is a quote from Stephen King and the ‘rosé’ is really a ‘rose’. But I have to have a title to start, to give me a push. Maybe a little pun, at least something to get your attention. I could have gone with ‘what a lovely thing a rosé is’ from Conan Doyle but that would have been way too bland.

French Wine Tours Roses which sing blog

My favourite, but too long to look funky, is ‘An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rosé smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it makes a better soup’ from H.L. Mencken. (The rosé/rose thing applies throughout, as if you didn’t know. And I got to get the quote in anyway – pretty slick, huh?) No, I’ll stick with Steve, a very fine author and renowned rosé drinker.

It’s a little ironic that I’m writing about this quintessential summer drink while a gale is blowing and rain is knocking on my windows, but it is my duty to think ahead and uplift the bosoms of my clientele. So here’s hoping that you’re reading this on the 21
st of June, the start of summer, with a glass of something rosé and a song in your heart. (See what I did? I should really stop while I’m ahead, but that would leave Anna with vacant space and a headache and we don’t want that.)

A few rosé basics to start. Rosé wine is not a mix of red and white wine, except for rosé champagne where such a combination is the normal way of making pink bubbles. There are two basic methods, but the key thing to keep in mind is that colour (and other good things) comes from the grape skin. There has to be sustained contact between juice and skin. But not too sustained. Kind of a teasing sustained. This is called maceration. You keep the contact just long enough to get the colour and flavour you need, take the liquid off the skins and ferment. And we are of course talking red grape varieties - you can’t get blood from a white grape, as it were. Probably the most commonly used is Grenache. It’s no coincidence that most French plantings of Grenache are in the sunny south of the country, particularly in the southern Rhone, but also east into Provence and west to the great swathe of Languedoc-Roussillon.

Maybe it’s just me but whenever I see a rosé I can’t help thinking of Anthony Perkins in Psycho. He’s confused, right? Does he want the girl? Does he want to be his mum? Does he need to go to Mr Bricolage for a new shower curtain? So rosé has a similar identity crisis. There is no ‘official’ colour code; wines can range from having the faintest hint of some-kind-of-colour-maybe to what an objective observer might take for a pale red wine if he hadn’t read the label. They can be sweet or dry or anywhere in between and that’s why choosing a rosé at random can be a hit or miss affair – unless you know the producer and/or area of production already. Or unless you read the following.

Tavel in the southern Rhone is one of France’s few all-rosé appellations. Tavel rosé was esteemed by Louis XIV, Balzac, and the Provençal poet Mistral (who gave his name to the wind which whips down the Rhone valley). It’s always bone dry, but the mixture of Grenache and Cinsault (another rosé fave) manage to give it a hint of background sweetness – definitely a Perkins rosé. Should be drunk young and chilled. It’s always an interesting and refreshing rosé with good concentration of flavours. It can also be a tad overpriced, with some producers trading on history.

Having said that, my favourite and trusted Tavel producer is Domaine de la Mordorée (the name means woodcock). This is a family enterprise created in 1986 by Francis Delorme and his son Christophe. Christophe’s philosophy was based on a love of terroir and working closely with Nature and over 30 years of hard work and passion he achieved his goal of producing great quality wines while maintaining a completely natural approach. I’m afraid I use the past tense accurately: Christophe died in 2015 at the age of 52. But the philosophy runs deep and continues to this day, with wife Madeleine, daughter Ambre, and the team which Christophe trained making marvellous wines. They manage 50 hectares over 8 communes, producing Chateauneuf du Pape, Lirac, Cotes du Rhone, Condrieu, and of course our focus, Tavel.

They make two Tavel rosés. Cuvée La Dame Rousse is from 40 year-old vines on 9 hectares, 60% Grenache, 10% Cinsault with bits and bobs of Syrah, Mourvèdre, Clairette and Bourboulenc. Grapes are picked by hand and go through a cold maceration for 36 to 48 hours. A very fruity wine – strawberry, cherry, pink grapefruit, mandarin, and rose notes. Will go nicely with fish, white meat, shellfish, and certain spicy, exotic cuisines. Cuv
ée Reine des Bois is from 3 hectares and on the face of it is a similar grape mix and wine-making process. However, the difference in terroir means that this rosé is more ethereal, elegant, and long in the mouth. Complex aromas of flowers and white fruits with raspberry, pomegranate and strawberry, and a hint of mint.

These are wines which retail for around €15 to 20 which at first sight might seem a lot for ‘just’ a rosé, but I assure you that in no other colour of wine does going mid-range pay more dividends. Happy barbecuing, and enjoy my new book, ‘Fifty Shades of Pink', lounging by the pool.

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