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French summer


The new French rosés have arrived just in time to help you cool off for summer.

Greg Horton May 24th, 2011

The Tavel region of France makes one kind of wine: rosé. The winemakers there have been making it for more than a millennia, and their expertise shows in every bottle.

The original vines, like most in France, were destroyed by insects in the late 19th century. The region persevered, however, and new Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah and Mourvèdre vines were planted.

The Tavel region produces richer, fruitier rosés than most of its French counterparts, but what stands out most about Tavel wines is their utter dryness.

These are wines for summer, but they are not light, sweet wines. They have body and heft, and are distinctive in their ability to age.

Château de Trinquevedel is primarily Grenache. It is abundant in fruit, especially Bing cherry, spice and wet stone flavors. It is probably the driest of the French rosés available in the metro.

Stocked at Bacchus Wine & Spirits, 17216 N. May in Edmond, this one can be enjoyed young or cellared for a couple of years, and it’s very food-friendly.

Clayton Bahr, a wine representative for Kermit Lynch Imports, said Rhone grapes like Grenache and Cinsault produce refreshing wines with lower tannins.

“The French love their rosé,” Bahr said, “so most regions produce some. I’m sure Bordeaux makes some rosé, too, but it’s not as well-known as the rosés of

Rhone and Provence.”

One exception to the Bordeaux grape rule is Chinon rosé by Charles Joguet of the Loire Valley. This 100-percent Cabernet Franc is a stunningly beautiful rosé every year.

It is rich with fruit and spice, and because it’s from a Bordeaux varietal, it has noticeably more tannic backbone than lighter Rhone rosés. This is assuredly good news for red wine lovers who want a powerful reminder of their favorite varietals on a hot summer day.

The Chinon is available in very limited supply. The state only gets a few cases. Buy it while you can at Coffee Creek Wine Shop, 775 W. Covell in Edmond, and at Bacchus.

Last year in Wine Spectator, James Molesworth wrote that rosé sales were trending upward worldwide. This has led to an unfortunate corollary.

“Rosé has enjoyed a trendy spotlight of late,” he wrote, “so some versions carry surprising price tags. But for the most part, these are wines meant for casual, fun drinking and immediate consumption, so prices remain modest overall.”

Many of the remarkable French rosés now available locally run between $15-$25. That’s a some rosé, too, but it’s now available locally little higher than many everyday drinkers want to pay for a summer patio wine. A notable exception is the Bieler Pere et Fils Sabine rosé from Provence. The Bieler is also available by the glass at Kamp’s 1910 Cafe, 10 N.E. 10th.

Bieler is better known as Charles Bieler, half of the winemaking team of Charles & Charles. This amazingly affordable blend of Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault and Cabernet is typically available for $11-$12. The 2010 vintage is available at Broadway Wine Merchants, 824 N. Broadway; The Grape Wine & Spirits, 13325 N. MacArthur; and Spirit Shop, 1117 Garver in Norman.

On a par with the Bieler in terms of weight and style is the Jean-Luc Colombo Cote Bleue rosé, from the same region of Provence as the Bieler. It is available at Byron’s Liquor Warehouse, 2322 N. Broadway, and by the glass at La Baguette, 7408 N. May.

This blend of Syrah, Mourvèdre and Counoise is light and delicate, but shows a surprising complexity. At about $12, it’s a great value as well.

One of the more beautiful rosés around is the Domaine Les Pallieres rosé from Gigondas. Primarily Grenache, it features bright red fruit — especially strawberries — up front, but finishes with a juicy, floral, hardcandy note. Remarkably beautiful and complex, it is also available at Bacchus and Spirit Shop.

 
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