I've lived in New York essentially for my whole life (there were four years of college in the mid-west and a year in Southeast Asia and India). I've never seen a June like the one we just had, with rain almost every day, skies overcast. We had 18 days straight of rain at one stretch.
But you know what - it's still summer, and I'm taking every chance I get to treat it as such. For example, the other day while my daughters were both down for their mid-day nap, even though the sky was white, and the air thick and humid, I found myself thinking of rosé and tapenade. Probably because Bert of Wine Terroirs and I had been emailing recently about the glory of Bandol wine, and I recently re-read his post about this classic Provence pairing.
Bert says that it is easy to make tapenade - all you need is some olives, garlic, anchovies, capers, and lemon juice. A food processor helps, although a mortar and pestle is fine too. My kids nap for about two hours in the middle of the day. Could I make tapenade, enjoy it under gray skies on our deck, and still get some work done while they sleep? The answer, I'm happy to tell you, is yes.
The sun poked through the clouds as I was choosing a rosé, and I realized that celestial forces were telling me to open the very best Provençal rosé that we have. There are many fine rosés from Bandol, and every Bandol lover has his or her own favorite. Right now, mine is Terrebrune, and so I opened a bottle of the 2007 Domaine de Terrebrune Bandol Rosé, $25, Kermit Lynch Imports. Bert wrote a truly great profile of Terrebrune, and I won't waste space paraphrasing him.
The 2007 Terrebrune rosé is 50% Mourvèdre, 30% Grenache, and 20% Cinsault. The nose is tense with minerals at first, and opens up to to reveal herb-infused fruit, 7 hours later the lavender is quite clear. The oxidative nature of this wine gives the fruit an orangey character that contrasts nicely with the tension of the minerals and herbs. I saved two-thirds of this bottle to enjoy with BrooklynLady that evening, and I don't think the nose ever finished opening, although it certainly was lovely. This wine really glides across the palate with great textural richness. It is not heavy or sweet, but it is an intense and big rosé, with sunny seaside fruit flavors, a metallic mineral frame, and a nostril-filling fragrance. It demands food, and it worked perfectly with the assertive flavors of the tapenade. I hope I have the self control to cellar one or both of my remaining bottles of this wine. I would love to see how it evolves with say, 10 years. But it's just so good now, this will not be an easy task.
By the way, one thing that I particularly love about Terrebrune's wines is that they defy the trend towards higher alcohol in Provence. Not just the rosé, the red Bandol too. The 2005, the current vintage on NYC shelves, is a completely reasonable 13% alcohol. Perhaps wine maker Reynald Delille is using modern equipment to de-alcohol-ize the wine? Unlikely. But I would love to attend a presentation in which he and other Bandol producers discuss vineyard work, cellar work, and alcohol levels in Bandol over the past 15 years.