My last pick before Labor Day just had to be a Rosé from Provence, my favorite category of wine for summer. The zesty, intense 2011 Château Margüi Perle de Margüi was a new label to me when I discovered it at a Provence wine tasting in New York before I headed out on vacation.
The wine’s aromas remind me of citrus, white peach and flowers, its flavors of fresh berries and lemon verbena. With a delicate, round character it’s perfect for sipping with lunch on a hot summer afternoon or as an aperitif before an alfresco dinner. The craze for drinking Rosés in summer surely began in this region in the south of France, where chilled bottles of dry, crisp pink wines are ubiquitous on café tables overlooking the Mediterranean. Rosés make up 87% of Provence’s wine production and account for nearly 40% of the pink wine made in France. In fact, the French drink more Rosé per capita than any other country in the world!
Provence in 2011: a good one for Rosé
Château Margüi is in Coteaux Varois en Provence, the smallest of the region’s three appellations. Smack in the heart of Provence, away from the sea and sheltered by limestone hills, this appellation has milder spring and fall weather and hotter summers than areas closer to the sea.
The 2011 vintage was a good one, with a warm, dry spring, warm summer and cool temperatures during harvest that preserved aromas and acidity. A 250-acre historic estate, Château Margüi had been abandoned in 1970. A French couple, Marie-Christine and Philippe Guillanton, began revitalizing it in 2000, renovating the château, recreating six acres of grand formal gardens and a seven-acre olive grove, and replanting vineyards that they cultivate organically. By the 2008 vintage, they were at full production, 5,000 cases of red, white, and Rosé, and a year later they began pressing their first olive oil. I’m also a fan of their white, Les Pierres Sauvages, and their syrah and cabernet red blend.
I’m always intrigued by the wide variation in color among Rosés, including those in Provence. Château Margüi is the palest golden pink, almost like a white with a rosy cast to it. Since it’s lighter than the bright color of most Coteaux Varois Rosés, the wine’s concentration and power may surprise you. Unfortunately, Rosés from Provence are more expensive than they used to be. But they’re still the standard against which all other dry pink wines are measured and Château Margüi’s 2011 is worth the price.
Top photo composite: Château Margüi Perle de Margüi Rosé label, next to a photograph of Château Margüi. Credit: Philippe Guillanton