Rosé. What comes to your mind when you hear about this particular type of wine? Summer? Lawn party? This wine is more than that.
Provence is the largest wine producing region specializing in dry rosé and they rosé very seriously and had even established The Center for Rosé Research in 1999, analyzing more than 1000 wines each year. The center is open to the public for anyone interested in learning more about this wine.
Provence extends from Marseille (the birthplace of rosé) to Nice and contains 3 main appellations: Côtes de Provence, Coteaux d'Aix en Provence, and Coteaux Varoix en Provence. It is believed that the earliest wines were originally rosé since the Greeks did not macerate wine with the skin for a long time to give the red color.
US is the largest export market for Provence rosé (even though France still has the highest consumption), yet rosé still has the reputation of being just a summer wine and Provence aims to change that. I recently attended a luncheon at Bar Boulud and tasted many different kind of rosé. The luncheon really showcased the diversity of this pink wine.
We were greeted with a glass of Hecht & Bannier Cotes de Provence Rosé 2014 ($18.99). This is perhaps the "typical" rosé: bright, crisp, fruity, with citrus notes and a clean short finish. Good to drink on its own yet versatile.
It was followed by Chateau Leoube, Rosé de Leoube 2014 and the first course was served:
Vivaneau Marine aux Agrumes (citrus cured red snapper, heirloom carrots, tapioca, lime, cilantro)
The heirloom carrots were sliced into thin, crisp slices that added a nice texture contrast. The second wine had a more subtle aroma. On the palate it was more rounded (more malolactic) with a longer finish. This paired better with the snapper than the Hecht & Bannier.
Salade Provencal (baby gem, shaved parmesa, sourdough crouton, herb anchovy vinaigrette, olives, tomatoes)
It surprisingly still worked. We tried two different wines: Barton & Guestier Cotes de Provence Rosé 2014. This rosé was made using pressed grape juice that was grown on sandier soil. It was well balanced with a rounded finish but brighter and fruitier than the next one: Maison Saint Aix AIX Rosé 2014, also made with pressed juice. This wine had more acid on the palate thatn I expected from the aroma.
Bouillabaisse (Casco Bay cod, Pemaquid mussels, Wellfleet clams, ruby red shrimp - although I didn't get any shrimp in my bowl)
The bouillabaise has a rich aroma - especially when the dollop of wonderful aioli has been mixed in.
Gassier en Provence, Chateau Beaulieu Rosé 2014
This wine has a redder color than the others, with a peach aroma. The wine also contains Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, which is unusual for Provence rosé.
The last wine we tried was the most unusual (and the most expensive): Chateau d'Esclans Les Clans Rosé 2012 ($65).
Chateau d'Esclans is apparently the name that comes foremost to mind when experts talk about changing the perception of Rosé. They make rosé in the style of Burgundy, barrel aging the wine in new oak. It's very different from the usual rosé. The wine's very light with a clean, orange peel nose. The light acid cleanses the palate after eating bouillabaise.
We finished off with some Comte (Marcona almond, fig, local honey) - this actually worked quite well with the first wine, Hecht & Bannier.
Chocolate truffles and macarons to send everyone off:
Over this lovely lunch, I learned quite a bit about Provence rosé and how diverse the wine can be. Provence has put together a lot of information about their wines, so if you're interested in learning more, visit http://www.provencewineusa.com/.
Bar Boulud Boston
Mandarin Oriental Hotel
776 Boylston St
Boston, MA 02199
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