Pretty in Provence
Gassier Sables d’Azur Rosé 2015
Côtes de Provence, France
It’s hot. I actually think I melted and got reconstituted over the weekend. Not that I’m complaining, just stating facts. It’s hot and it’s time to reconsider what we’re drinking. It’s time to lighten up, chill out, and drink rosé. Finally.
Pink wines have suffered a little reputation problem, thanks in no small part to an accident all the way back in 1975 in California. (I’ve been blaming a lot on California lately, and I’m sorry. It won’t always be that way.)
See, the winemakers at Sutter Home used the saignée method to concentrate their premium Zinfandel. They’d bleed off some of the juice and ferment it into a dry pink wine. But then, in 1975, the fermentation got stuck. Because it refused go any further, lots of sugar was leftover and they ended up with a sweet blush wine.
People loved it. White Zinfandel took off and suddenly everyone started assuming all pink wine was sweet.
Not so! In the South of France, specifically Provence, rosé has always been dry, crisp, and lovely. Even though they totally make red and white wines in Provence, you’d never know it. Rosé makes up more than half their export and production. In some areas, it's 100%.
Provençal rosé is the archetypal rosé. It’s often extremely pale, yet full of flavour. It’s often salty, floral, and fruity, yet tastes like the perfect glass of water at the end of a glorious day in the sun. It’s ridiculously refreshing and pure, yet evocative of terroir. And it’s no accident that it’s so damn delicious and becoming more popular by the second.
It is rosé with purpose. There are actual rules governing production (20% must be saignée) and specific grapes must be used, namely Grenache, Cinsault, Mouvedre, and Syrah, plus a few others occasionally. They’re often bottled in weirdo bottles, from square to bowling-pin inspired. And they’re designed to be drunk young, in the year following harvest.
These are the wines of summer. These are the #yeswayrosé wines, the #roséallday wines. These are the wines people go crazy for every summer. They’ve inspired winemakers around the world to create better, dryer blush wines and we are all so thankful for it.
Especially when they’re as good as this bottle from Chateau Gassier. The Gassier family has been making wine in Provence for generations, and their commitment to quality and sustainability shines through in the 2015. I buy this wine every single year and every year I love it.
It tastes like the first vacation my husband and I took as a couple, way back in 2011, to the South of France. We drove around the countryside, frolicked in lavender fields, dipped our feet in the Mediterranean, and drank rosé by the gallon. This wine encompasses all of that. You may never have been to the South of France, but a few sips of this lovely wine will transport you, if only for a minute, the way great wine always should.
Nose: Strawberries, watermelon juice, a hint of white peach and grapefruit, minerality and some Herbes de Provence. If you serve this wine super ice cold, the aromas will be muted. It’s still great, but let it warm up a few minutes before you go sticking your nose in there.
Palate: It’s like biting into juicy red summer fruits while being splashed by sea water. The strawberries and watermelon are joined by cherries and those herbs again as well as a savoury saltiness. It’s got plenty of refreshing acidity, but a nice mouthfeel that keeps it balanced and pleasurable. It’s ridiculously drinkable, like water, but with a relatively persistent , delicately flavourful finish. Trying not to chug it will be a challenge (I found my glasses emptying at an alarming rate).