Surrounded by storied red wine districts like Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Vacqueyras, and Lirac, Tavel is the only AOC in the southern Rhône dedicated entirely to rosé production. And what a rosé it is! Famously lauded by Ernest Hemingway, who declared it his favorite wine, and a staple on the table of at least two French kings, Tavel takes its pink wine seriously. Unlike many rosés, which use second-class fruit not deemed suitable for reds, the raw material here is picked exclusively for the purpose of creating a top-class rosé. Guillaume Demoulin, a fourth-generation vigneron, crafts Trinquevedel’s Tavel—a blend dominated by Grenache—by way of a skin maceration at cold temperature lasting up to two days, depending on the vintage. This process draws out aromatics of wild strawberry and thyme, while achieving a seductive deep pink color. Delightful with a bowl of olives in the summer, this no-nonsense rosé also has the structure to stand up to anything off the barbecue.
I haven’t experienced deep winter on the Mediterranean coast, but if I had to guess, I imagine it’s similar to what we experience here in Berkeley—clear blue skies and brisk air, some rain and fog, and the occasional frost or dusting of snow on the coast mountain peaks. (I can imagine eyes rolling in the Midwest and Northeast.) Due to an extended aging on the lees, the Bel-Arme has the added depth and roundness for a bracing winter day. With a touch of creaminess following the crisp stone fruit, it’s a Mediterranean white in a cashmere sweater.
If there was one wine I wish we had an ocean-sized supply of, it would be the Clos Reginu, or Clos Reggie, as we affectionately call it in the shop. This ever-popular, supremely juicy red is practically guaranteed to part the clouds and hit you with a sunbeam—inner or otherwise—of wild herb–scented, red-fruited, spicy goodness. It’s benchmark Corsica at a weeknight price.
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