“…the tourists occupying, by prearrangement, all the tables at a sidewalk cafe and drinking rosé, which they have been told is a typical Provencal aperitif.”

Adapted excerpt from “La Bella Lingua” By John Cheever

In the Cheever quotation, rosé replaced Campari and Provencal substituted for Italian; otherwise, the depiction is spot on. Rosé is a wine in Provence you are preconditioned to order and enjoy.

At first sip, everyone seems to approve of whatever rosé is poured into his or her glass. This is a nearly universal phenomena: a happy carefree drink suspending any critical judgment. No inspection. No swilling. Rosé is also a form of wine cellar insurance. Rather than crack open expensive wines in your cellar, serving rosés at drinks parties or at casual dinners preserves your better bottles.

Some of the best rosés come from the southern Rhone where the Grenache grape is prominent. The popularity of rosé has boosted its yearly share of production in the AOC Ventoux to 28%, up from 23% a few years ago. An incentive is cash flow: rosés are sold within a year of harvest. Tavel produces the powerhouse rosés of the Southern Rhone that have strong notes of cherry fruit and intense red hues. They are pricey. Chateau D’Aqueria is one Tavel of consistent quality.

The best bargains for rosés are found at wine cooperatives that pop up  everywhere in the Vaucluse. There are thirteen alone in the AOC Ventoux. Here are two faves:

Cave de Bonnieux, Bonnieux

Offering a selection of AOC Côtes du Luberon and AOC Ventoux rosés: LES SAFRES 2009 and the ORPHEA 2009 for 4€ each. Rosés in “bagging box” are 14€ for 5L and 25.10€ for 10L.

Sparkling / Bubbly Méthodes Traditionelles:

BLANC DE BLANC Brut and ROSÉ BRUT go for 5.90€ each.

Directions: N36 from N100, direction south towards Bonnieux 300 yards on the left. Coming from Bonnieux on N36, on the right after 4KM.

Tel: 04-90-75-80-03; website: www.cave-bonnieux.com

Cave Balma Vénitia Vignerons de Beaumes de Venise, Beaumes De Venise

One of the youngest appelations in the southern Rhone, Beaune de Venise produced its first vintage of AOC  reds in 2004. The wine cooperative accounts for 70% of the AOC production. The handsome cooperative has a long counter for tastings. Three rosés deserve attention:

Côtes du Rhône CUVÉE DES TOQUES ROSE, 4,30 €

Côtes du Ventoux POMELO 4,20 €, Magnum 150 cl    7,80 €

A Muscat rosé that sparkles: MUSCATINE ROSE, 5,00 €

Directions: Access Beaumes-de-Venise on highway D7, north from Carpentras or south on D7 from Vacqueyras. The cooperative is located outside and below the village in the Quartier Ravel.

Tel: 04-90-12-41-00; website: www.beaumes-de-venise.com

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