Installment No. whoknows in the annals of admonishments proffered by food/wine critics of all stripes that are more talked than walked: “Rose wine is not just a summertime beverage. It’s delightful throughout the year.”

It might be true, although given that I probably drank a total of four glasses of such wine between Thanksgiving and a month ago, I wouldn’t know. And I’m guessing that despite the articles that arrive (like this one) every spring to remind people not only of how delicious neither-red-nor-white wines are, but also that the liberated-nerd writer drinks them with cassoulet in February with the snow blowing sideways, they wouldn’t really know either.

(It does sound good, though. I really do resolve, here and now and publicly, to write another column on rose next winter. It’ll be especially easy, since the wine distributors will be nervously blowing out their 2011 leftovers for $3 a bottle.)

Anyway, here we are a couple of days from June. So let’s all unapologetically embrace the fact that these wines truly do match up well with the mood, weight and dining choices of the next three months.

A couple of weeks ago, I suggested a few NRNWs in the deeper/darker vein – some of which drink like reds in thin disguise – noting that most of the lighter-pink expressions hadn’t yet come fully into their own.

Slowly, though, the wines that are more Provencal (either in provenance or spirit), lighter in color and more felicitous in orientation have grown on me. It can’t be easy to transform robust, even prickly red-wine grapes (Cinsault, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Mourvedre) into gossamer wines that are charming and precise.

Harder still must it be to produce such wines that simultaneously are adamant, with tenacity and buoyancy in the same glass. Here are some, ordered from oh-so-delicate to heartier and more complex, that achieve this elusive goal.

Jean-Luc Colombo Cape Bleue, Coteaux du Aix-en-Provence, $12 (Pine State): This is the first year I’ve really liked this wine, a Syrah-Mourvedre blend. In past years, it was too thin and fleeting. Terrific balance, with a delicate body but inner strength. I get iron shavings on the palate, fresh garlic, sagebrush and even some blood orange. Perfect with grilled oily fish or an herbed white bean salad.

Marc Plouzeau Chinon, Loire, $13 (Wicked): I will drink this all summer, because it represents most of what I want my summer to feel like. All Cabernet Franc, which constantly threatens to be my favorite red-wine grape ever, the Plouzeau has that white-of-the-watermelon thing down, with a fresh-and-crisp red-bell-pepper snap and plenty of refreshing lime. Urgent, brilliant wine.

Commanderie de Peyrassol, Cotes du Provence, $19 (Mariner): A marvelous wine, year after year. It is soft and elegant, less assertive than most of the others I’m loving right now, though the necessary acidity comes on the long, subtle finish. Just so much finesse, so much civility, so much essential quiet.

Domaine du Hochart, Cotes du Provence, $14 (Wicked): I keep wanting to write “this is my favorite right now,” and then another comes along. But this might really be my favorite right now. There is so much going on in this wine, it’s like a great novel. It is, above everything else for me, the perfect weight. Settled and stable, but comely: That sort of easy, willowy beauty that predates heroin chic and scowling uber-cool, the sort of beauty that comes from confidence.

Subtle white peach notes, watermelon and preserved lemon predominate. A slight pepperiness is there too, which somehow suggested to me a meal of smoked bluefish with ramps, smashed with fresh arugula into potatoes.

Midsummer Cellars, Napa Valley, $24 (Devenish): That’s right, baby: Napa. This is fully Grenache, and fully amazing. It’s meaty – like, au-jus meaty – and muscular, powerful and encompassing. The fruit is deep. The entire wine has unimpeachable integrity and resolve. Yes, a NRNW can be worth $24. And I will, honestly, be drinking this next winter.


Joe Appel works at Rosemont Market. His blog,, continues the conversation, and he can be reached at: [email protected]


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