LA VIE EN ROSÉ

A love of rosé leads Shan­non Har­ley to the South of France, where she finds her­self truly in the pink amid the world’s largest wine-pro­duc­ing re­gion.

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Jour­ney to the heart of rosé coun­try.

FRANCE’S LANGUE­DOC-ROUS­SIL­LON re­gion, nes­tled in the sul­try south of the coun­try with the Mediter­ranean coast­line to the east and the Pyre­nees to the west, is rosé ground zero. Loung­ing in the shade of an olive tree, sur­rounded by grapevines, beads of con­den­sa­tion slip down my wine glass as bees dance above the rim, buoyed by the warm Sirocco wind. It may seem as though I am wear­ing rosé-tinted glasses, but this is no ro­man­tic scene from a Vic­tor Hugo novel. Rather, it is a real-time snap­shot of a late sum­mer’s af­ter­noon at Do­maines Paul Mas, one of the big­gest wine pro­duc­ers in the re­gion. I take a sip of the pink-hued drink; it’s re­fresh­ing, crisp and fruity – the per­fect foil to the dry heat of the day and per­haps the rea­son rosé has be­come the sym­bol of sum­mer in Aus­tralia. It’s lit­tle dif­fer­ent here; one in every four bot­tles con­sumed in France is of this va­ri­ety, and here in rosé heart­land, I can ap­pre­ci­ate why – the wine per­fectly cap­tures the un­tamed beauty of the coun­try’s wild south.

“In­spired by the New World at­ti­tude, I am proud to work the unique ter­roirs of the Langue­doc to cre­ate wines that in­spire real emo­tions,” says Jean-Claude Mas, the hand­some, sun-tanned French­man who re­vamped the cen­turies-old Do­maines Paul Mas 17 years ago. To­day, he runs an em­pire of 12 es­tates planted with 40 grape va­ri­eties sold through eight la­bels.

Ter­roir is that slip­pery con­cept that makes French wines inim­itable any­where else in the world, and Mas de­scribes it as a golden ra­tio of four el­e­ments: “soil, cli­mate, vines and the man him­self who or­ches­trates it all”. In every glass, we are lit­er­ally drink­ing in the Langue­doc landscape, from the fun and friv­o­lous Ar­ro­gant Frog Syrah Rosé with ripe cherry and straw­berry flavours to put in the Esky for beach pic­nics, to the el­e­gant Astélia Rosé Pas­tel to sip with a plate of char­grilled as­para­gus.

Aus­tralia is one of the brand’s top ex­port mar­kets; no sur­prise con­sid­er­ing our sim­i­lar cli­mate and love of fresh flavours. Mike Ben­nie, de­li­cious.’ s res­i­dent booze ex­pert, says rosé has us blush­ing be­cause it “does well on our beaches and by our pools. It’s a match made in heaven for brunch and lunch, our love of Mediter­ranean and Asian cui­sine.”

But we can drink rosé by the pool or beach any time. What is far less pro­saic is sit­ting in a French vine­yard at Res­tau­rant Côté Mas in Mon­tagnac with a plate of salmon gravlax and glass of rosé. If you’re buck­ling in for the de­gus­ta­tion, book a roomy villa on the es­tate and wake up to your café au lait by the pool or un­der the fig tree.

The lat­est ad­di­tion to the Paul Mas em­pire is a con­verted moulin, or wa­ter mill, on the banks of the Hérault River. This luxe ac­com­mo­da­tion in the me­dieval town of Pézenas is all French pro­vin­cial chic in­side with noth­ing but the gen­tle hum of na­ture out­side. It is here, spend­ing an­other af­ter­noon re­clin­ing in a per­fectly weath­ered wrought iron chair, lulled by the sound of gen­tly flow­ing wa­ter and the oc­ca­sional bird call, that I hold my wine­glass to the sky and see la vie en rosé.

To book the moulin, visit pier­res­d­his­toire.com.

“WE ARE LIT­ER­ALLY DRINK­ING IN THE LANGUE­DOC LANDSCAPE.”

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