If you put a shaken Champagne bottle to my head, and made me definitively say which were THE best rose` wines made anywhere in the world, I’d have to say that the ones from Provence get the gold, and in saying so, I would have lots of company. The great saignee (literally “bled” – rose` wines made exclusively from free-run juice from unpressed grapes that have only been “crushed” under their own weight with the juice drawn off after a very short maceration) wines of southeastern France beautifully capture the essences of all of those thick and heady red Rhone and Provencal grapes, and together, they conspire to produce pink wines of real complexity.
From the title of the post, it might not be too hard to predict that, at least as of this writing, my silver medal goes north to central France’s latitudinal “coast” – the long, slow-rolling Loire River, where the rose`wines made primarily if not exclusively (like tonight’s wine) from Cabernet Franc tick (nearly) all the boxes. Cabernet Franc from the relatively cool Loire Valley typically shows lots of small red fruit flavors and a sweet spiciness, but with plenty of slicing acidity and earthy, pleasantly bracing “green” tannins that give shape to its wines, rose` and red alike. This one adds just enough extra flesh into the mix to make it especially appealing.
The eats I whipped up to match this power-pink was a first course of a checker board of watermelon and French sheep’s milk “feta” dusted with piment d’Espelette and minced mint and basil. The main course was crepes made from farm-fresh eggs (Thanks Corina and Uncle Felix!) with a bechamel mushroom, leek, and grape tomato stuffing.
Mathieu Tijou Rose` de Loire 2011
Bright, reddish pink color with a tinge of brown. Big, expressive nose of mixed berries, cherry, floral notes, wet stones, coal smoke, green tea, and vanilla bean. In the mouth, the wine is very fresh, but also deep and round, with a steely, bitterish core that serves as a springboard for sweetened pink grapefruit, strawberry, red currant, and blackberry fruit flavors, with notes of new leather and ground black pepper underlying. Salty, herby finish.