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If you are looking for fine French wine and food, consider the world famous Provence region in southeastern France. You may even find a bargain wine in this sun-drenched ideal tourist location, marred only by the excessive number of tourists. I hope that you'll have fun on this fact-filled wine education tour of this French candidate for paradise in which we review a local rose wine. Provence ranks ninth in acreage among France's eleven wine-growing regions. Over half of Provence wine is rose wine, some excellent and some that leave much to be desired. One of the problems, believe it or not, is excessive sun, which can almost literally bake the grapes much as it bakes your skin. The wine reviewed below is a Cotes de Provence made out of eight grape varieties ranging from the local Rolle (it has other names in Corsica and Italy) to the international Cabernet Sauvignon. If you have unlimited funds you may choose to visit St.Tropez, a Mediterranean port made famous by Brigitte Bardot much more than by the French writer Guy de Maupassant or painters including Matisse. I won't list today's glitterati often spotted in the area. For a change of pace visit the Musee de l'Annonciade (Annunciation Museum), a Fourteenth Century chapel. Stroll through the old town and stop by the Sixteenth Century Citadelle (Citadel) overlooking the city and the sea. You may even want to play petanque, a local form of bowling. Did I suggest that you bring plenty of money? Before reviewing the Cotes de Provence wine and local cheeses, here are a few suggestions of what to eat with indigenous wines when touring this beautiful region. Start with Tapenade (Chopped Olives, Capers, Anchovies, and Olive Oil). For your second course savor Gardienne de Taureau (Bull Stew in Red Wine). And as dessert indulge yourself with Clafoutis d'abricot (Apricot Custard). OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review are purchased at the full retail price. Wine Reviewed Petale de Rose, Regine Sumeire, Cotes de Provence 2007 13.5% about $15 Let's start by my sight translation of the marketing materials. Its color reminds one of a low-intensity onion peel. Its aroma is delicate with subtle whiffs of small red fruits and vanilla. Enjoy this dry rose's good acidity and fairly long finish. Suggested food pairings include stuffed mushrooms, braised ham, lobster stew, grilled salmon, grilled trout, and veal saute. Before the first meal I sipped some of this wine. It was light, refreshing, and somewhat long. It was summer in a glass. The meal consisted of chicken meatballs slow cooked with soft wheat kernels. The wine tasted of grapefruit. It was feathery with nice acidity and did a great job of cutting the meat's grease. In the presence of roasted eggplant with lots of garlic (as in Provence) the wine became rounder. The second tasting involved a barbecued chicken breast, potatoes roasted in chicken fat, and green beans in a tomato sauce. The rose tasted of light cherries. It was softly acidic and nicely long. The word feathery popped up again. I had the feeling that there were some dark red grapes hiding in this wine. I was a little disappointed when the wine was flattened by fruit juice candy. The final meal consisted of a red pepper and a Portobello mushroom omelet. The rose was sweet, light, refreshingly acidic, and not very fruity. When paired with a high-quality French lemon pie with a buttery crust the wine lost its sweetness. There was a note of citrus in the background but it was clearly overpowered. The first cheese pairing was with a local Provolone. At first the cheese seemed to flatten the wine. Later it was nicely acidic, round, and light. With a marbled Cheddar the wine was definitely muted. But it did return to normal when I finished the cheese. Final verdict. I would definitely buy this wine again. I have been reviewing a lot of $10 wines and this one is clearly in a different league. But as so often, it's important not to waste it on inappropriate food pairings.
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