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July 15-31, 2007


WINE & SPIRITS

Ma Vie en Rosé
By Baroness Sheri de Borchgrave

THINK PINK FOR A REFRESHING SUMMER DRINK

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Wine writers, I must admit, lead a charmed a life. Case in point: This past winter, during a Valentine's Day ice storm in New York, I was cozy in a Greenwich Village bistro, Mas, sipping newly released Provence rosés. Even with temperatures still frigid, the pink bottles were already transporting me to the outdoor deck of my Hamptons house.

Our host chef, Galen Zamarra, paired the rosé selection with a nine-course Provencal lunch. By the end of the meal I had rosé—and the feel of laid-back summer—coursing through my veins. I vowed to drink nothing else once beach season had begun and have yet to go against my word.

With one exception—the coveted $35 Domaines Ott—all of the rosés we tasted were well within my everyday price range ($10-15). Over lunch, as courses were paraded out, intriguing facts and figures were also paired with our wine. We learned that Provence, the oldest wine region in France (the first vines were planted by Phoenicians 2,600 years ago) produces eight percent of the world's rosés (10 percent of all wines produced worldwide are pink). The region gets 3,000 hours of sunshine a year. The Mistral, the fierce wind that blows from the north over the northwest coast of the Mediterranean Sea, acts as a drying agent, killing off diseases and fungi, which makes Provence an optimal area for growing organic grapes.

Our guided tasting, focusing mostly on wines from the Côtes de Provence appellation, came courtesy of master sommelier Roger Dagorn. As we entered the restaurant we were each handed a glass of Domaine de l'Abbaye Clos Beylesse. The wine had a seductive, deep pink hue, a fresh apple nose and a bracing acidity. Wine was first produced at the Abbaye in the 12th century, when monks picked the grapes and bottled the wine. Today it comes in a gorgeous contemporary package, a tall cobalt blue bottle. It turned out to be my favorite among the rosés I tasted at lunch.

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