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WINE OF THE WEEK

2015 Gassier Côtes de Provence Sables d'Azur Rosé

Pink is the new white. Dry Rosé has become one of the hottest trends in wine in the past five years due to its popularity and consumption.

The Rosé wine category was up 34 percent to $63 million in the 52 weeks ended May 23, according to Nielsen, with volume rising 29 percent to nearly half a million cases, about double the category’s 2012 total.

You might have also noticed there are many more Rosé selections readily available today at your local wine shop or on the wine lists at your favorite watering hole or restaurant.

So, if you haven’t already jumped on this pink band-wagon or maybe you are already indulging; be sure to add Chateau Gassier, Sables d’Azur, Côtes -de-Provence Rosé wine to your “must-try” list. This is the perfect summer wine and the quintessential Provence Rosé all wrapped up in a curvy corset shape bottle, unique to the region.

Chateau Gassier vineyards are nestled in the South of France, on the foothills of the majestic Mount Saint Victoire, in the world-renowned wine-growing region of Provence. Côtes de Provence is a wide area covering Cote d'Azur (French Rivera) from Marseille to Nice. It is more than 50,000-acres wide.

Eighty percent of the wine made in Provence is Rosé and half of the Rosé wine made in the entire country of France comes from Provence. This region is ideal for grape growing because the vineyards of Côte-du-Provence cling to the slopes in man-made dry stone terraces, where the sun's heat reflects off the limestone pebbles and sand. It is on those terraces where the grapes benefit from the classic Mediterranean climate and the large sea forming its southern border. In Provence, mild winters are followed by very warm summers with little rainfall. Sunshine is found in abundance in this region – the grapevines receive more than 3,000 hours of sunlight, twice the amount needed to ripen grapes fully.

The Gassier family has been making exceptional wine from this region for more than five generations and the Sables d'Azur Rosé is no exception. This wine is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault, whereby the grapes are completely de-stemmed by hand before direct pressing and then poured into the traditional Provencal wine bottle.

The end product is a vivacious Rosé with perfect salmon coloring and elegant aromas of red currents, drops of delicate white flowers, rose petals and citrus. On the palate, it is clean and refreshing with flavors of fresh-picked strawberry, cherry, cranberry, watermelon, peach and pear. The finish is creamy and pleasant, with lingering tastes of pomegranate and strawberry, carried by a good edge of minerality and juicy, mild tannins.

I promise this wine will tickle you pink and is perfect for so many occasions and dishes. Grilled fish, all sorts of chicken and salads with vinaigrettes and citrus pair beautifully. Picnic food such as charcuterie, patés, light cheeses and cold fried chicken are ideal. Try Mediterranean fare, grilled vegetables and creamy soups, too. It goes with almost anything, even a bowl of Vietnamese Pho and my favorite, Bouillabaisse. If feeling adventurous, Julia Child’s Bouillabaise with Rouille recipe is spectacular and the Sables d’Azur, Côtes-de-Provence Rosé paired with this dish won’t disappoint.

My suggestion is buy enough of this wine to get you through this summer. Drink it at lunch, mid-afternoon happy hour or at dinner. Toss it in a spill-free tumbler as you sip it poolside, or, say, on-board a moving sailboat or during a fierce game of bocce. Hey, we can all dream.

You can find this wine for a screamingly good deal for $12-$15 at the R Bar or Coffee Hound. You can also order it from your local grocer through the wine and spirits manager.

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Kate Murphy is the wine writer for the Quad City Times and can be reached at Kate.Murphy@lee.net.

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