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Everything Is Coming Up Rosé in France

Aug. 26, 2008 – I am sitting on my terrace overlooking the Lemance Valley, in Lot et Garonne, south of the Perigord, having a few drinks with friends before we sit down for dinner.
Being in the wine business, all our guests bring a bottle or two of wines they want me to try–their"secret finds"–but when it comes time for cocktails before dinner, or "aperitif," as is said in France, almost everyone settles down with a glass of rosé that has been sitting in an ice bucket on the table. It's hot, the weather has been in the 90s, and we all want a light, refreshing glass of wine to cool off. Even the white wine drinkers among us opt for the rosé, and most of the diehard red wine drinkers join in.
In a group of 11 of us, nine are drinking rosé. What has happened here and is happening in the rest of the world is extraordinary. Pink wines have simply exploded onto the scene. Almost every major wine making region of France is making a rosé of some sort.
It used to be an afterthought in the Bordeaux region, but I know a great (and famous) Bordeaux winemaker who has just had his rosé wine chosen by Olivier Poussier, the world's best sommelier, to be put on the wine list of Lenôtre. This is no small accomplishment, two or three years ago, a Bordeaux Rosé was frowned upon by any wine expert!
While visiting a wonderful, small winemaker in the Cahors region of Southwest France just last week, trying the newest vintages and reserves, we got into a discussion about rosé.
"Oh, that is not wine. I love real wine, the deep hearty reds we make and, of course, some other Cahors wines and some Bordeaux, but rosé, that is not wine."
But the truth is when he sits down for lunch with his family and some of the crew, in the summer after a long hot morning's work in the vineyards, he will drink a rosé. "Well, once in a while when it's hot but not as a regular thing…" Hearty red wines are just too heavy and rich in the heat of summer at lunch, and even with dinner, no matter what the meal is. Rosé is perfect. It's got a bit more personality than a crisp white, and it will go with anything from a piece of beef or pork or a seafood meal comprised of fish and shellfish. I enjoyed a wonderful rosé recently with an all seafood paella, and it was wonderful. Salads scream out for a good rosé on a hot summer day.
We here in the Caribbean have disregarded this great category of wine too long. It's time we started giving Rosé wines the respect they deserve and start enjoying their cool refreshing characters.
They can be light, crisp and dry, "slatey" (slight mineral notes of slate soil), more full-bodied or even slightly sweet to drink as an aperitif or desert wine. Rosés are made in all wine regions of France, each with their own character. It's worth experimenting to find the ones you love and enjoy with your summer meals.
It's a secret that not all winemakers or wine lovers in France want to let onto, but rosé wines are generally inexpensive, usually under $10. This is a way to have wonderful wines in the summer and not break the bank.
I would love to hear back from my readers with comments or questions. Please e-mail me at: frank@viwinewholesale.com

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