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Provence

It was not long ago that the Tour de France was weaving its Erythropoietin-infused way amongst the Lavender, Juniper and Rosemary splattered landscape of Provence whilst the cicadas cheered them on their merry way. Meanwhile, back home, sweaty, middle-aged men donned the Lycra and went puffing about the South Downs imagining they were Chris Froome. They were not. They were offering imitations of Mr. Blobby on wheels, perspiring last night's pints of Stella. 

Of course, their efforts are thoroughly commendable, though Ditchling Beacon is hardly Mont Ventoux. After all it is pretty impossible to transport the natural beauty of one part of the world to another. An Attenborough documentary might make a decent fist of it but one of the most exciting ways to enjoy the essence of another part of the world is often through its food and drink. For those parts that are luckily enough to have the climate to produce the stuff, it is often its wine.

Sadly, it doesn't always work out. Plenty of us have done that thing when we enjoyed some of the local wine on holiday, perhaps outside a wine bar in Barcelona, a red wine straight from the barrel under the beating heat of the Catalan sun. It tasted like Petrus. 

Once home you manage to bore everyone you know - and some you don't - about this incredible nectar that you enjoyed on your hols and desperately try to track it down. In the end you find some crusty, old merchant in the depths of Somerset who has a case of it buried at the back of his cellar.

A week later you are sitting in your kitchen, a glass of your old friend in front of you willing to be transported back to the street outside that bar in Barcelona. To once more feel the heat of the Spanish sun upon your face, the laughter of old friends, the smell of the waitress's perfume and above all the remarkable flavours of that sumptuous delight. It does not happen. The wine offers a powerful nose of disappointment, a mid-palate of displeasure, followed by a long, hollow finish of regret.

There are certain parts of the world, however, where its wine has the ability to transport you back to the very place from whence it came. One of those is Provence. Renowned mainly for its world leading rose there is so much more to the region.

The Signature Rouge from the excellent Chateau de Brigue is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Craignan and Grenache. It has a surprisingly delicate touch. Spicy with touches of sage and lavender. A hint of liquorice pushes through some blackberry fruit.

Also from Chateau de Brigue comes their Prestige Blanc 2013. This oozes sunshine. Leesy, richly textured, lemon sherbet, almond. Super weight. If you like your wine with balls, but without oak, then I would heartily recommend this.

Finally a rose, from Domaine de Jale comes the 2016 vintage of Les Fenouils. There is peach skin and apricot and a hint of something minty. Textured, clean and balanced. Achieves what a top rose should achieve in being complex, delectable and utterly destructable. Open a bottle of this and be prepared to finish it.

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