I admit the name of this wine can be confusing. The bright pink liquid in this bottle has nothing to do with the fruit (black currant) or with the liqueur Crème de Cassis. Instead, this Cassis is the name of a pretty little town on the Cote d’Azur of Provence just between Marseille and Bandol. Cassis is also the name of the tiny wine appellation surrounding the town. This tiny A.O.C. encompasses only 490 acres (the Bordeaux A.O.C. is 150,000 acres!). Cool nighttime temperatures (thank you Mediterranean Sea!) and limestone soils give these wines a freshness and minerality that might be otherwise difficult to attain in such a warm place.
Domaine du Bagnol, specifically, is a small 15 acre estate created in 1867 by the Marquis de Fesque, and now recently revived by Jean-Louis Genovesi. As is the case in all wines imported by Neal Rosenthal, the production here is careful, conscientious and respectful of the balance of nature. For this rosé, a blend of red Cinsault, Mourvedre and Grenache grapes are pressed and left on their skins just long enough to extract a bit of color and lots of flavor. Because of the small production, this is a sharply allocated wine! Formaggio Kitchen South End received 4 cases this year, and Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge just 2 cases.
This little gem definitely gives the more famous and pricier rosés from nearby Bandol (only 20 miles away) a run for their money. Think rosy-strawberry aromas offset by bright mineral notes and an elegant and satisfying bone-dry finish. I like to drink it all by itself, preferably outdoors, the better to savor the ephemeral loveliness of one of my very favorite springtime treats.
Julie Cappellano is the General Manager and wine buyer at Formaggio Kitchen South End.