Tim Dwight, the proprietor of The Green Turtle Market, is a certified sommelier and his wine column is published in Florida Today. If you're looking for the perfect wine, the experts at The Green Turtle Market can help you find what you're looking for!
Dreaming Pink in Provence
Pick of the Vine
By Tim Dwight
May 23rd, 2013
Rising temperatures and summer beckons. Unfortunately for this wine scribe my travels over the next few months will be limited to domestic destinations.
No multi-week jaunts to the Rhone Valley or Burgundy; travels to France put off for another year.
Wine, however, affords an easy excuse to enjoy the pleasures of another locale by simply pulling a cork.
The sun-dappled regions of Provence are home to a majority of the pink wines of France. The climate is Mediterranean (warm and arid) but is heavily influence by the area’s proximity to the coast and it’s sea breezes.
The resulting wines, from vineyards stretching from Marseille to Nice, are nearly 80% pink, and come from grapes with such names as cinsault, grenache, syrah, and mourvedre.
The roses run a gamut of colors from lightly bronzed to deep vermillion. The palest of pink is the au currant fashion driving a resurgence in sales both here and abroad. Consumers bred on the sugary excesses of white zinfandel will be in for a stylistic slap on the palate; the pinks of Provence are decidedly delicate and dry.
Perfect summer quaffers, Provencal roses are intended to accompany the seafood-laden cuisine of France’s southern region. Equally adept, I would add, with chicken, pork and even food from across the border in Northern Italy. (Why is it that the otherwise prolific Italian vintners spend so little time on rose?)
Close to the town of Arles in the Rhone river delta is home to the Chateau Grande Cassagne, officially part of the Costieres de Nimes appellation. Fifth generation vintners from the Darde family continue to produce a deeply colored, full-flavored style of rose. Cool, refreshing flavors of tart cherries and strawberry combine with hints of the saline mineral soils.
Just east of Marseille, the legendary vintner Jean-Luc Columbo fashions a large production of pink wine from grapes on his Cape Bleue property. Columbo is one of the foremost winemakers in the Northern Rhone’s Cornas appellation, which specializes in syrah. His Provencal rose is a blend of 2/3 syrah and 1/3 mourvedre. Denying the tendencies of these grape varietals towards heaviness, his Cape Bleue Rose is light, fresh and elegant.
Viniferous ambitions run high in the LIchine family. Patriarch Alexis Lichine was a peripatetic Russian entrepreneur who emigrated to Bordeaux during the early years of the last Century, investing in various chateaus and setting up a large negotiant business.
Son Sasha Lichine chose not to compete with his father’s legend and moved instead to Provence’s Esclans Valley, where his quest is to fashion the “finest roses in France”.
His Whispering Angel rose from Caves D’Esclans is subtlely intense, a seductive elixir made from grenache and a white varietal, rolle.
80-year old vines from inland, hillside vineyards produce a delicate balance of mineral and herb notes that combine with fresh fruit flavors of raspberries and plum.
This is a suitably impressive rose with a price to match.
Names for accompanying photo (to arrive Thursday morning):
*Chateau Grande Cassagne 2012 Rose, approximate retail $10; imported by Robert Kacher Selections.
*Jean-Luc Colombo 2012 Cape Bleue Rose, ($9-$10), Palm Bay International.
*Caves D’Esclans Whispering Angel Rose, ($17-$18); Shaw-Ross Imports.