With Cannes in the news these days my thoughts have turned to rosé which is by far the biggest selling wine in this sun-drenched region of France.
The cuisine here is packed with garlic, fruity peppery olive oils and robust flavours that would obliterate the fine wines of Burgundy and Bordeaux.
Garlicky aioli and salty tapenade however match brilliantly with the light pink fruity rosés here.
If you are taking a risk on an inexpensive rosé in a supermarket my advice is to go for the Côtes de Provence, as it will almost always be dry and clean and any flaws will be washed away by some extra chilling.
There is nothing you can do to mask the confected flavours found in a clumsy blowsy Californian rosé or a Rosé d’Anjou with 17g of residual sugar (yes they can really get that high).
Rosé should refresh and cleanse the palate (in fact all wine should) but all too often it has been sold as a kind of alcoholic still red lemonade aimed at novice drinkers.
This image has altered a little in recent years with the trend towards premium rosé; the most famous example being Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s Miraval (c. €29,95).
Vanity Fair reported recently that the estate is definitely not for sale and is viewed as a long-term investment for the couple’s children.
The wine is very good I should mention and found in better wine shops and has the bonus of a very pretty bottle.
Don’t be put off by pink as it really is an excellent food wine and is particularly good with spice.
Many people think chilli heat is best countered by lager or dry whites but you cannot fight heat with acidity, you need to tame the heat with some sweetness and rounder flavours as found in rich whites and in dry rosé.
The reasonably promising start to summer 2017 has led to a bit of a rise in Rosé sales this year which I hope will continue.
It is a real pity that rosé is so weather dependent here — if the showers do arrive can I strongly recommend looking out at that rain through a rosé-tinted wine glass.
BEST VALUE UNDER €15
Coteaux Varois Provence 2016, Coteaux Varois, France — €12.50
Stockist: Marks & Spencer
Coteaux Varois is a large unwieldy appellation in central Provence at slightly higher altitude between Coteau d’Aix and Cotes de Provence. This is mainly cinsault and grenache (plus syrah and others).
Fragrant red fruits, soft on the palate but bone dry, zingy and fresh on the finish.
Finca Hoya de Santa Ana Rosado Olivares, Jumilla, Spain — €12.50
Stockist: Wines Direct Mullingar and Arnotts Dublin, www.winesdirect.ie
Valencia and Murcia in south-eastern Spain is the natural home of Mourvèdre/ Monastrell where it ripens well (it can struggle to ripen in Provence outside Bandol).
This is great value with nice body and spicy red fruit flavours that begs for barbecued lamb or kid if you can find it.
L’Ostal Cazes Rosé, Languedoc, France — €14.95
Stockist: O’Briens stores nationwide
This very pale fruity fresh rosé is on offer as part of the O’Briens annual rosé promotion — buy two and get the second for half price.
It is made by the Cazes family of Lynch-Bages and is a blend of syrah and grenache and has a solid hit of strawberry fruit and a bone dry finish.
BEST VALUE OVER €15
By.Ott Rosé, Côtes de Provence, France — €19.99-24.95
Stockists: Castle Tralee, 64 Wines, Whelehans Wines, Donnybrook Fair, Redmonds, Jus de Vine, Terroirs, On The Grapevine
The price difference here is interesting with the Castle in Tralee at €19.99 and others a bit more expensive. Dom.
Ott Bandol is one of the great Provence Rosés but at €36.95 it is expensive. This lighter version from the Côtes is almost as good with pristine crisp red fruits and floral touches.
Domaine Saint-Rémy, Crémant d’Alsace, France — €25.95
Stockists: Probus Wines, Celtic Whiskey Shop Dublin and Killarney www.celticwhiskeyshop.com
From a Demeter certified Bio-Dynamic/Organic winery this Pinot Noir- based sparkler is excellent value with exuberant ripe red fruits, body, and richness.
French Crémants are always worth watching for (Bourgogne, Jura, Limoux, Loire etc) and this is an excellent place to start.
Bouvet Crémant de Loire, France — €23.95
Stockists: Whelehans Loughlinstown, jnwine.com, Independents.
A long established Loire producer based in Saumur and formerly owned by Taittinger Champagne. This is pure Cabernet Franc, the main red grape around these parts responsible for red-fruit dry fresh wines.
There is a nice supple richness here but also a pleasing freshness and is made in a drier style so will suit seafood in from the barbecue.
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