This is the time of year when glamorous parties and weddings seem to pop up everywhere. Inspired, my wine selection has a royal theme with a suitable seasonal touch of pink, white and bubbles.
If every wine regions tradition of a king passing by and drinking the local brew and declaring it to be the best in the world were true, there were some monarchs who did nothing but trot around France quaffing the proffered glass on his way to the next viticultural region! Louis XIV was apparently partial to two very different pinks, the Rosé de Riceys, in Champagne made with Pinot Noir, and the dark pink Grenache-based wines of Tavel, from the southern Rhone.
Marriage has also influenced a monarch’s choice of wine. In 2001, I was honoured to have been invited to the 500th wedding anniversary of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, a marriage which launched England’s strong connection with the wines of Bordeaux. Many Bordeaux estates bear British names – Brown, Smith, Barton… but my wine of choice here is by the Anglo-Bordelais Christian Seely who has ventured back to England to make stunning white and pink sparkling wines under the label ‘Coates & Seely’.
Next stop is to look at the wines of the Loire Valley – the garden of France and playground to royalty for centuries, in some of the most magnificent chateaux in Europe. The local off-dry Rosé d’Anjou has been reviled because of its sweetness, but producers such as award-winning Domaine de la Petite Roche make beautifully balanced wines, full of fruit and elegance.
Modern pink champagne received a major boost when Pommery created a special pink version for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. Its fashionable status was further enhanced by Princess Margaret seen drinking pink bubbles in Parisian nightclubs.
My final wine returns to Bordeaux, to the oldest known estate, mentioned by Samuel Pepys, Chateau Haut Brion. Now owned by Prince Robert of Luxembourg, Château La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc, is one of the most highly regarded Bordeaux whites. Oak-aged, rich and splendid, it truly is a regal wine.
Drink pink, white and bubbles for a right royal spring!
This article was written for Bespoke Yacht Charter by Elizabeth Gabay MW – A long-time lover of the wines of southern France, and based in the hills behind Nice, Elizabeth is currently immersed in all things rosé for a forthcoming book on pink wines around the world. Other passions are the wines of Hungary, the Mediterranean, unusual grape varieties and history. She writes about for various journals and websites, including her own – www.elizabethgabay.com