Wake up and smell the rosé

A few weeks ago we embarked on a brief – but perfectly formed – visit to the winery, La Commanderie de Peyrassol.

Members of our team were joined by some customers interested in increasing their knowledge and understanding of the burgeoning Provence rosé rollercoaster that we all seem to be enjoying the ride on.

It only seems a few years ago that we were tucking into to those sweet and off-dry pink wines of California, thinking we were the height of sophistication, only to be told that the interesting, pale pinks of France are the way to go.

And go we most certainly have, with our appetite for premium rosé from Provence, in the south of France, seemingly knowing no bounds.

What has shocked me in 25 years of my wine witterings, is the reckless abandonment of budget constraints, with bottles retailing around the £20 mark finding a welcome home in our wine racks and fridges.

What sets the production of wine in Provence apart from the rest of the wine world is that their primary focus are rosé wines, with years of wine-making expertise and heritage going in to make a very premium product.

Filmmaker George Lucas and movie stars Brad Pitt and George Clooney have taken the region to their hearts and invested in properties in the region.

I’d like to say that our visit was a little less rock ‘n’ roll but that would be telling!

Commanderie de Peyrassol is situated about an hour’s drive from Nice and this idyllic vineyard has been brought vividly into focus by Philippe Austruy, a French businessman and hugely dedicated wine fan.

His passion for wine and art comes flooding through as you glide through his properties and witness pieces of sculpture peering from around the vines.

The winery is situated at an altitude ranging from 220 to 350 metres above sea level. Ideal conditions for a healthy temperature range during the hot summer months. The 850 hectares property is surrounded by typical southern French vegetation.

Truffle oaks, white oaks, olive trees and scrubland provide dense natural protection for the vineyard, cultivated following the rules of organic farming.

Nestled in the foothills of the Massif des Maures, in a vast natural cirque, it is protected from the harmful humidity brought by the maritime air masses.

Our tour began in the dedicated, glorious tasting room before we were treated to wander the vineyards taking in the splendour of our surroundings.

Dotted throughout are vines of cinsault, grenache, syrah, Mourvèdre, tibouren, vermentino and ugni blanc among others and all play their role as part of the complex blend that makes a top-class Provence rosé.

A terrific lunch was accompanied by some of their rosé – obviously – and their excellent whites and reds. We were then taken to our accommodation on site, which again, was first-class.

After a little sit by the pool, and the odd glass, we were then treated to dinner with wines to match each course.  Next morning we took a tour of the art gallery on site including work by Anish Kapoor among others.

I have to thank the team at Commanderie de Peyrassol for their generosity and hospitality and I heartily recommend a visit, whether you are going for the wine, the art or both.

We have been proud to supply the wines of Commanderie de Peyrassol for several years now and visiting the property added plenty of meat onto the bones of our knowledge of the wines.

Talking of which, let’s have a little look at the wines.

#LOU Rosé, Côtes de Provence (Fine Wines Direct UK, £12.99) is a light, refreshing drop with wild red berries dominating, with a little spice note thrown in. The cool bottle design has a youthful approach which just shouts fun in the sun. Get your friends around, pour a few glasses and it’s a party!

The Les Commandeurs Rosé, AOP Côtes de Provence (Fine Wines Direct UK, £15.99) is a benchmark Provence rosé carrying some floral perfume on the nose followed by crisp raspberry and strawberry fruit. Complex on the mid palate and finish with some rich stone fruit interest coming through on the finish. Blended from grenache, cinsault, syrah, mourvèdre and vermentino.

Next La Bastide Peyrassol Cotes de Provence (Fine Wines Direct UK, £19.99) is what you’d call a gastronomic rosé. A little deeper in colour, and packs a punch in flavour. From its unique bottle and free-form label – created by the designer Pierre Yovanovitch – to the generous red fruits from the blend of grenache, cinsault and syrah. This is a unique wine with power, poise and elegance.

Finally, the Clos Peyrassol Rosé (Fine Wines Direct UK, £31.99) is only produced in the best vintages since 2009, this cuvée comes from Clos Peyrassol, one of the most beautiful plots on the estate, surrounded by low stone walls, at the foot of the Templar buildings. Hewn from cinsault, grenache and tibouren, this wine straddles the world between white and rosé with a very pale colour in the glass and flavour profile of delicate peach and pear notes with defined mineral tones, giving the wine its sense of place.

Now all we need are a few days of sun and its rosé time.

Neil Cammies

Former columnist for the Western Mail and is now working for Fine Wines Direct UK. Hosting tastings, building client relationships, and writing about his experiences in the wine trade.

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