- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Domaine Lafond, Tavel “Roc-Epine,” 2004, $13

Tavel, a small wine commune located near Chateauneuf-du-Pape in France’s southern Rhone Valley, produces the world’s most celebrated rose wines. Championed by Louis XIV, novelist Honore de Balzac and gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (among many others), they are dry but also deeply flavored, with the sort of power usually associated with red wines. At the same time, they are prized for their freshness and youthful exuberance, making them perfect choices on steamy summer evenings.

Tavel can be made from up to nine different grape varieties, but grenache and cinsault dominate most blends. These are dark, fairly tannic varieties. The vintner makes rose from them (as opposed to red wine) by stacking the clusters of grapes atop each other and allowing the weight to break the skins.

After a couple of days, once the juice has picked up a pink or salmon color, it is drained off and fermentation begins. Still, the resulting wine, while bright, will taste fairly bold. After all, remember those dark grapes.

Domaine Lafond’s 2004 “Roc-Epine” exemplifies the beguilingly paradoxical character of good Tavel. Marked by vibrant red berry flavors, it at the same time is deep and long on the palate. That depth makes it especially versatile at the supper table, where it has enough power to accompany full-flavored dishes such as pork tenderloin or even marinated flank steak. (Imported by Alain Junguenet, Wines of France.)

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