Saturday, 17 March 2012

The Rose Wine of Provence - Cote D'Azur Villas





The rose wine of Provence has a growing and justified reputation, and is still much underrated and undiscovered outside of Provence. There are hundreds of vineyards throughout the wine growing area of Provence, with several AOC's located in the area, which stretches from St Tropez in the south-west up Fayence in the north-east.


The best known name for Provence rose is probably Bandol, a wine that is exported all over the world, but although one of the better wines it is certainly not the best, although it is very good. Domaine Ot would probably claim to be the most exclusive, but for me it is a little overpriced, and although very good there are a number of much cheaper wines that are available, although mainly it has to be said direct from the vineyard, many of the producers making insufficient quantities to interest anything other than the local supermarkets. Indeed some of the smaller producers sell only to passing customers, offering tastings and these can be very busy places during the summer season.


The better known names include Cote de Provence, Cotes de Luberon, Buche De La Rhone, St Tropez peninsular, Varois, St Victoire, Gigondas and Bellet.  There is also a wine called Whispering Angel which is really good but a little expensive given the great range of choice available. For every one of these better known names, I could offer an alternative, not so well known and almost certainly cheaper.  Chateau Mauame for instance, Chateau St Julien, and any number of producers around the StTropez area.


There are two types of rose, the traditional rose coloured variety and the greyer, or more orange gris type.  The gris is a particular favorite of mine, being smoother in most cases than the more red coloured alternative, indeed in the local supermarket you can pick up a very decent gris for under three and a half Euros, and if you spend 6 Euros a bottle you are into something very decent indeed.


Rose though, is mostly seen as a summer drink, sales drop off dramatically during the winter months, as it is often iced and that does not seem right once the weather turns colder.  Many Brits were turned off rose at an early age because the only variety readily available in the UK during my youth was Mateus Rose which is frankly not often very good.  It is only by trying the Provencal versions that their reputation has spread.


The vines are omnipresent in Provence during the summer and offer a wonderful sight in early September laden down with fruit.  Picking takes place during September and the first part of October and the wine is ready for sale by March the following year.  Roses tend not to last very long, unlike the reds, which can be found in Provence but only a few are of real quality and as yet I have not found a white which passes muster in our household.  Better by far to stick to sampling the roses.


Ideally to explore all the pretty villages and vineyards, you would want to be based in the area.  There are hotels but they do not offer the same space, views and ambience as renting a private villa.  This can be done very easily as there is a growing industry in the area with a number of companies offering  rentals of these sorts of properties. The lure of a private swimming pool after a long day sampling wines, can be very welcome, as are the views which one would normally expect to get in the area.  The space element is also very importance, particularly if you have a big family, hotels can become ruinously expensive and there is something nice about slipping out to buy some local produce and then sitting around by the pool or on the terrace whiling away an evening and drinking some of the local brews!


Provence is well served by Nice airport which is within easy reach of most of Provence and has flights going to and from much of Europe and beyond mine, being smoother in most cases than the more red coloured alternative, indeed in the local supermarket you can pick up a very decent gris for under three and a half Euros, and if you spend 6 Euros a bottle you are into something very decent indeed.


Rose though, is mostly seen as a summer drink, sales drop off dramatically during the winter months, as it is often iced and that does not seem right once the weather turns colder.  Many Brits were turned off rose at an early age because the only variety readily available in the UK during my youth was Mateus Rose which is frankly not often very good.  It is only by trying the Provencal versions that their reputation has spread.


The vines are omnipresent in Provence during the summer and offer a wonderful sight in early September laden down with fruit.  Picking takes place during September and the first part of October and the wine is ready for sale by March the following year.  Roses tend not to last very long, unlike the reds, which can be found in Provence but only a few are of real quality and as yet I have not found a white which passes muster in our household.  Better by far to stick to sampling the roses.


Ideally to explore all the pretty villages and vineyards, you would want to be based in the area.  There are hotels but they do not offer the same space, views and ambience as renting a private villa.  This can be done very easily as there is a growing industry in the area with a number of companies offering rentals of these sorts of properties. The lure of a private swimming pool after a long day sampling wines, can be very welcome, as are the views which one would normally expect to get in the area.  The space element is also very importance, particularly if you have a big family, hotels can become ruinously expensive and there is something nice about Cote D'Azur Villa Rentals: Book your luxury villa in advance during the Roses of Provence and have an unforgettable holiday in France.