First of the Summer Wine

With Summer just around the corner, northerners everywhere are rejoicing... and so are rosé lovers. In fact, if your subscriptions are anything like mine, then you know that this is also the time of year when "The Who's Who" of online wine retailers flood our inboxes with claims of having THE best rosé of the season. Not surprisingly, in my inbox, the two most common recommendations were blush wines from "the Brangelina estate," and of course, the French rosé with an English name, Whispering Angel. If you ask me, this last one was no doubt carefully named to spare the embarrassment of those wine lovers whose French pronunciation is questionable even before a few glasses of their favorite ultra-pale pink wine.

So, what's this delicately coloured, subtly scented fermented grape juice all about? Is there more to it than just good marketing? I certainly think so. I won't lie to you: I drank it for more than a decade before I truly understood how charming it really was, and of course, how easy it was to drink. And while, for most of us, it's become the go-to drink of summer (only to then be forgotten like Kevin McAllister each Christmas), I'd go so far as to say I'm generally drawn to it now more than ever. Blame my maturing palate, but today, I prefer more elegant wines than those monstrous Meursault wannabes from the New World Or Shiraz fermented to a whopping 16.7% abv which does little more than scream for attention.

Yet with so many rosés to choose from, how do you know which one to choose? Like many people, my favorite bottles are made in Provence, in southern France. Specifically, I love blends that are mostly made of Syrah grapes because of their resulting qualities; they have a vivacious, but finessed minerality and a gentle perfume of purple flowers. One such example comes from negociant Hecht & Bannier, which was first recommended to me by Damien Barton of the Leoville/Langoa Barton dynasty. Hecht & Bannier source their Syrah from high altitudes just north of Aix-en-Provence, while their Grenache and Cinsault grapes are found in Mediterranean vineyards on the coast of places like Saint Victoire and Les Landes des Moures. The resulting blends are elegant but drinkable, making them perfect for a long lunch... and because you love it so much, the late night(s) that are sure to follow.

By: Daniel Grigg