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.
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.”