There is a lot of wine in France. Actually, let’s be honest here, a lot is an understatement. France is the biggest and most renowned wine making nation in the world. 27,000 active French wineries span over 800,000 hectares of land, resulting in the production of billions of bottles of wine annually. Let’s rephrase my previous statement – there is an inconceivable amount of wine in France.
For the past week, I’ve had the pleasure of being on holiday in Provence. Days have been spent relaxing in my rustic, sun-baked surroundings, relishing over freshly baked baguettes, cured meats, exceptional cheeses, and of course, copious bottles of local wine. The majority being selected at random from my local market. This past week has proved to me once again that when in France, even if you’re buying on a whim or a budget, it’s extremely hard to get a bad bottle. I don’t quite know how they do it actually. Perhaps they ship anything deemed below par out of the country; or maybe, bad wine just isn’t possible in this part of the world. You’ve heard it here first; this California wine-lover is a convert!
As I am down in Provence, I’ve been sampling a lot of rosé. Provencal rosé, crisp and bone-dry, is the region’s specialty; so no doubt, I’ve taken it upon myself to drink like the locals. Including an equally exceptional sampling of reds and whites, I have had the challenge and the pleasure of trying various brands, varieties and vintages of wine during my stay. Sadly, there’s not enough time in a week to review them all, so I’ve narrowed it down to my top favorites.
It’s been really hard to choose as all of them have been fantastic, but I can’t say that I haven’t enjoyed the challenge. This bottle of Domaine de la Royere Fruité is without a doubt the best rosé that I have had on my holiday, and quite possibly one of the best rosés that I’ve ever had. I randomly plucked it from obscurity off of the vast wine isle at the Supermarché, not thinking all too much about vintage or vineyard, but only concerned with it being local and reasonably priced. It fit the bill perfectly – from Provence’s Vaucluse region and priced at a baffling €3, 85. Initially, I spent a moment wondering whether it really would be any good before quickly coming to my senses and remembering where I was. Back home, anything within the £3 range won’t really get you much, perhaps a watery fruit juice at best. But here in France, perhaps due to the overladen supply and stiff market competition, €3–4 gets you quite a lot!
This soft salmon-pink Rosé is rich in flavor and body whilst still maintaining its Provencal bone-dry quality. Intense flavors of apricot, succulent peach and ripe cantaloupe engulf the palate; while floral notes of lavender, rose hip and honey suckle tickle the senses. It’s velvety smooth and rounded off with a perfect, slightly oaky finish. The tannins and minerals are well balanced and complimentary to the flavors, never overpowering a single sip. Perhaps it’s the rich and varied Provencal land from which the grapes have been grown, or the careful hands by which it was cultivated and matured, whatever the reason, this Rose packs a beautiful punch. It’s a local Vin de Pays wine, or what the French classify as an Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC). The label was simple and limited, which meant that I didn’t find out about the grape varietal, but if I blind tasted it unaware of region or color, I would have guessed that it was an expensive White Burgundy due to its hearty consistency and bold flavoring. A Montrachet perhaps. But as I don’t really know, I’m happy to leave it in a slight shroud of mystery. What I do know is that I absolutely loved it and will certainly be having it again very soon – a few bottles of it made the journey back to the UK with me.
So on an end note, if you’re in France, you really can’t go wrong with your wine choice regardless of its price. Yes, some will most certainly be better than others, but all of them embody character and quality. But whatever your wine preference, if you’re down in Provence, take my advice and pick up a couple bottles of Domaine de la Royere Fruité, best served ice cold with a delicious Fromage de Chevre (Goats’ Cheese) and a poolside lounger.
Believe me, it’s still worth it!