Celebrate summertime with a glass of rosé

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      By the time you’re reading this, odds are that it’s officially summer in the Northern Hemisphere. The beginning of summer is when Lotusland truly comes alive, and when you can, as Joni Mitchell once famously put it, see the valley barbecues from your windowsill, see the blue pools in the squinting sun, and hear the hissing of summer lawns.

      But let’s put aside Ms. Mitchell’s observations on the delusion of civility and concentrate on what’s truly most important in life: family, friends, and food. Great wine is naturally part of a balanced diet and is a perfect partner for seasonal celebrations all year round. And besides bubbly, there’s no better wine to celebrate with than rosé!

      Yes, we tasted a number of new B.C. rosés at the end of April and noted a couple of new ones from France, but all of a sudden this month, liquor-store shelves and wine lists everywhere were flooded with wines from Provence. So for you, dear reader, I made the commitment to wade through seas of red-currant-, peach-, grapefruit-, melon-, mango-, and tangerine-coloured wines to showcase some of the best of the 2013 vintage. You’re welcome.

      Provence, in southeastern France, is the oldest wine-producing region in the country, and rosé is its oldest wine. They’ve had more than 2,600 years to practise, and it shows. Once you get into tasting them, you quickly see the significant differences in each wine. One thing’s for sure—a light colour does not mean the wine is shy. Most of these are bone-dry but fruity, wonderfully expressive, and fully textured, and show off their ability to pair well with so much of our local cuisine.

      All of the wines below are from the Côtes de Provence area or one of its subappellations and are widely available across B.C.

      Domaine Houchart Cotes de Provence Rose 2013 ($17.95)
      The nose suggests ripe red fruits like strawberries and raspberries, but there’s a smoky and savoury element hidden not-so-subtly underneath. Try it with a rosemary-rubbed roast chicken and invite a few friends over to share the best-selling rosé from Provence in B.C.

      Domaine Saint Ferreol Les Vaunieres Coteaux Varois en Provence 2013 ($17.99)
      This one is a more richly flavoured wine with notes of mountain berries, red currant, and sweet spices, but dry and clean, with a longer-than-expected finish for the price. If you can still find some fresh spot prawns, I’d say it’s a match made in heaven.

      Chateau de Brigue Cotes de Provence Rose 2013 ($19.99)
      Lightly coloured but with powerful aromatics; there’s a note of sweet earth that balances the melon, salmonberry, and red-cherry flavours. Gather up a plate of charcuterie and some Salt Spring Island goat cheese, and you’re set.

      Gassier Sables d’Azur Cotes de Provence Rose 2013 ($21.50 at private liquor stores)
      There’s loads of fresh fruit on the nose here, while it’s light and dry on the palate. A definite nutty note, too, like walnuts or almonds, plus a touch of spice. A lovely food wine, certainly.

      Chateau Miraval Cotes de Provence Rose 2013 ($28.99)
      Most of the mainstream attention that has been given to this wine has been based on its famous owners, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. More importantly, it’s made by the Perrin wine family, best known as the proprietors of Château de Beaucastel, which is arguably the most acclaimed estate in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The 2013 rosé deserves praise on its own for delivering notes of strawberry, white peach, and cantaloupe, nicely balanced with a cool minerality and great structure. By the time the tasting panel was ready to eat, the bottle was gone, so let’s just say it’s very enjoyable by itself.

      Chateau Routas Rouviere Coteaux Varois en Provence 2013 ($21.99)
      All this flavour and under screw cap, no less! Plum, watermelon, grapefruit, and a lightly peppery and mineral edge make this a quintessential food wine. If you hear someone say “chill and grill”, you know they’re talking about this wine. Keep a few bottles around all summer long.

      La Bargemone Cuvee Marina Aix-en-Provence Rose 2013 ($29.99)
      Not cheap, but worth trying once. Maybe twice. Gotta love the package, too, more like a gin or whisky bottle. This wine shows earthy, rich, red-berry notes with some floral tones and a citrus finish. It’s got the fruit and weight to take on grilled unagi (eel) sushi in all its smoky and salty glory.