Once the weather starts to warm up, rosé season begins around our house. A great rosé (and by “great” I don’t mean expensive) drinks beautifully with a variety of foods, and on its own as a cocktail. The amount of rosé to choose from at the liquor store has increased along with its popularity, unfortunately many of the new bottles to choose from just aren’t that great. Every year I’m looking for my “house” rosé: something I love, that’s affordable, that I can buy by the case.
Today I tried two different bottles of rosé from the Appellation Côtes de Provence Contrôlée in the southeast of France at a lunch hosted by winemakers Barton & Guestier (originally founded in Bordeaux, France in 1725 and today making AOC and varietal wines from the main French wine growing regions). What I particularly loved about both bottles was the familiar taste and feeling of the region (think leisurely sun-drenched, seaside lunch with mini clams and mussels)—tamed acidity, minerality, with a rich and well-balanced flavor.
The wine pictured here, La Villa Barton Côte de Provence 2015 ($19.99 a bottle) and it’s a combination of Grenache, Syrah, and Cinsault grape varieties. Everyone I was dining with loved it the best—raved, in fact. I actually preferred the Barton & Guestier Passeport Cotes de Provence Rose 2015 ($14.99 a bottle), with the same grape varieties but a higher percentage of the Cinsault. It’s elegant and delicate—great as a cocktail wine, but I’m also looking forward to serving it with all the fish I’ll be cooking this summer.
But all this semi-wonky talk risks alienating those of us who just want to go the store and pick up a few good, trusted bottles of wine to take home for dinner. That experience can be frustratingly intimidating for the average person. The choices are endless, and it’s tough to know where to begin. There are so many variables: location, vintage, grape varieties etc etc. Don’t even get me started on the whole snobby-wine-pontificator problem at some stores and restaurants. The best purveyors and sommeliers will happily talk to any one of us, with enthusiasm and knowledge, regardless of how much money we have to spend.
The best plan for purchasing wine is to just relax. When you taste something you like, take note. When you travel and are introduced to something new that you like, ask a few questions and file a few ideas away. Eventually, sip by sip, you’ll find your way and feel better ordering and buying. It’s no different than food on your palate. It’s a matter of personal taste. Old rules about what’s “right” to drink with certain foods are falling by the wayside. And cost doesn’t always insure excellence (for your own taste) which is why I’m always on the hunt for a good wine bargain. I already know many delicious bottles of expensive wines I can’t afford. So I’m thrilled to find one like this. As B&G winemaker Laurent Prada said, as he summed up this wine, “the simple expression is ‘value.'”