Saturday, June 30, 2012

First Rose' of the Season - Gassier Sables d'Azur

Well I can't wait for the weatherman to provide us with summer so I jumped the gun last night and officially opened up Rose' hunting season for 2012. Drinking Rose' in British Columbia is more than a little frustrating as the LDB carries roughly 45 "Rose'" wines but almost half of those are $20+ and another 30% are "White Zinfandelish" horror shows but still we persevere in the pursuit of reasonably priced rose'.  Private wine stores probably offer us the best chance so check with your local private retailer to see what they have on hand .

I should preface this by stating that Rose' is often a personal preference sort of wine, much like Chenin Blanc rose' can be well made in a variety of styles, from light and fruity to bone dry and lemon tart.  I prefer mine in the dry, but still fruit aware style, I want some peachy, ripe cherry in the nose and some citrus in the mouth and a reasonably long finish so that's my caveat. I will drink, and often enjoy, fruitier off dry rose' but when I'm cooking Sockeye, as I was last night, I want dry and citric.

Out at the Mothership yesterday I cast a wary eye at the Rose' selection and beheld a true Provence classic on the shelf for only $15.99, I say only because we live in BC, elsewhere this wine would be in the $12-13 range but you take what you can get. Chateau Gassier is owned primarily by the Gassier family who have been in the Haut Provence region since the 15th century, the winery itself dates from the early 1980s, and the Sables d'Azur is their flagship rose' wine. Many will argue that the Rhone valley produces France's best rose' wines but if they do Provence isn't far behind, and the wines of Provence are typically lighter than those of the Rhone and lightness is what I want in the summer.

The Sables d'Azur is a blend of equal parts Grenache, Cinsault and Carignan with 10% Syrah tossed in for good measure. Rose' wines are not a blend of white and red wines,  except sometimes in Champagne but that's another story, the process of making rose is that red wine grapes are used but the skins are extracted early, sometimes right after the crush, sometimes during fermentation, with the result being a pink, or light orange, hue to the finished wine. Unlike the pink soda pop wines popularized in California, and other places, French rose' wines are almost universally dry.

Anyway the Sables d'Azur is pale salmon in colour, with a touch of orange, the nose is muted but shows bits of peach and floral aromas, in the mouth the wine shows more white peach and citric flavours with a lively bracing acidity that works extremely well with grilled fish and would also compliment spicy dishes and be great with sushi. The finish is medium long, a tad shorter than I was hoping for but still very good. The wine retails for $15.99, as previously stated, and is a sure frontrunner for House Rose' for the summer of 2012. The Sables d'Azur is available in government stores, with reasonable distribution and is a recommended buy.

The Sockeye, by the way, was absolutely delicious, simply seasoned with salt, pepper and lemon zest with a pat of butter on top and oven roasted at high heat until medium rare. When the ingredients are that good I basically just try and stay out of the way, served with lemon, celery risotto and a saute of green beans and cherry tomatoes the plates were all cleaned in record time, and the rose' bottle empty as well.

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