Wineries around the world make rosé. Then there are Provençe and Tavel regions in France.
Provençe is the largest rosé region, located in southeastern France and the most Mediterranean of all French wine regions. Marseille is the principal city. Half of Provençe production is rosé. Grenache and cinsault, the classic rosé grapes, predominate, but throw in mourvèdre and syrah.
Rosés of Provençe tend to be light in color and delicate and fruity in flavor. Some would assert too pricey, too, because of their world-class reputation, but pricey in rosé still can be less than $25. If you get into rosé, and every serious wine drinker should get into rosé, you must taste Provençe rosé. Taste descriptors include strawberry, watermelon, and roses.
Tavel is north of Provençe in the southernmost region of Châteauneuf-du-Pape area, on the left bank of the southern Rhône. The Tavel region produces rosé exclusively, so rosé often is not on the label. If it says Tavel, then it is rosé.
Tavel is darker and has more body and intense flavor than wines from Provençe and other rosé wines. Tavel often has the character of good red wine. It usually tops out at legal French rosé limit of 13.5 percent alcohol. Grenache, cinsault, mourvèdre, and syrah are principal grapes.
Historically, Tavel was the favorite of French kings and Catholic popes. Ernest Hemingway was a big fan of Tavel, too.
• Domaine de La Sanglière Cuvée Spéciale Côtes de Provençe 2015: Tasty, quality rosé perfect for summer sipping. $15-20
• Domaine Saint-Aix AIX Rosé 2015: Superb example of classic, delicious Provinçe rosé. $19-22
• Prieuré de Montézargues Tavel 2013: Darker, more robust than most rosés, often called man’s man rosé. Ernest Hemingway favorite. Bone dry, racy, outstanding. $22
• Château Sainte Marguerite Symphony Rosé 2015: Delicious high-end rosé; dramatic bottle; impressive elegance from Provençe. $33
Last round: The elderly man shared his secret to a long and happy life. He enjoyed a large glass of rosé wine with a pinch of gunpowder in it each evening. When he died at age 105, he left behind eight children, 29 grandchildren, 82 great grandchildren, and a 40 foot hole in the ground where the crematorium used to be.