We’re holding a party at the beginning of May. It should be sunny and 50 people are flying in from the UK to be with us in Provence. The perception from overseas seems to be that having written three books about the pink stuff, my wife and I pretty much live on rose. Most of my friends also know that I am medical marvel, being the only man in history ever to contract gout from drinking too much pink. To live up to expectations therefore we’ll be serving rose.
But the problem is, perhaps because of the gout, these days I tend to prefer white. As a result finding what pink to order has been difficult. I started with old contacts from the days when we used to sell wine in the Provencal markets. Historically Saint Andre de Figuiere, a lovely vineyard just outside Hyeres, used to make a great pale pink called Cuvee Magali. We bought it at about 4 euros a bottle, now even with an old customer’s discount the price is over 10 a bottle. I like my friends, just not that much.
While looking at the Sainte Andre wine list I noticed that the vineyard has joined the growing ‘premium rose’ trend offering a 20 euro plus premiere pink. In the old days only Domaine Ott used to be able to command these prices. Now everybody is apparently at it. That old Tropezian favourite Chateau Minuty has also whacked out a 20 euro plus bottle, so has mega commercial Made in Provence (M.I.P) domaine St Lucie. All the marketing bumf for these wines proclaims they are made from old vines, and special selected parcels of grapes etc…but when I asked a local wine merchant how they differed from the lesser wines of the same estates, he shrugged and simply said ‘not at all.’
With fifty thirsty Brits to water, I then started looking at the bottom end of the market. Local Luberon estate Domaine de La Citadelle, has put out a new lesser pink (Court Metrage) at 5 euros a bottle. Apparently the vineyard has recently expanded and acquired some new parcels of vines which, while they are being brought up to the standard of the rest of the domaine, are being used to make a simple pink. The first sip was good, the colour was strong, but not too strong, and I thought I had my wine. After the first glass though, I was feeling a little sick, and definitely incapable of driving a car. I looked at the alcohol percentage – 14.5%. The Brits would put back bottles of the stuff, turn fifty shades of pink in the sun and then fall over.
My next stop was to look for the least alcoholic pinks I could find. Elephant Rose at 12.5 % had promise but turned out to be too full of fruit and once again after a glass I was left feeling queasy. Finally I found the bottle – . It’s almost the colour of water, drinks easily, and at 12% is gentle on the liver. Even I would struggle to get gout from this one: L’Instant from Domaine Fondreche