Posted on 21.11.20 Wine of the Week

Secret de Léoube rosé review: why Provence can be a winter winner

It’s not often I can offer a suggestion that might change your life, but I genuinely believe that drinking rosé in winter has at least a chance, so hopefully this review of Secret de Léoube might inspire you.

I’m presenting some Instagram festive specials for Vins de Provence over the next few weeks, featuring three leading chefs with food pairing ideas, so I thought I’d practise what I’m about to preach by cracking open a Provence rosé on a cold, grey, drizzly November night, just to see what happened.

My partner wasn’t initially convinced, so I felt we really needed to aim high – with the best rosé I could find in the cellar. And here it is, in its finery (see picture above). Just the bottle design alone is enough to liven up a lockdown night, with its elegant calligraphy, but this is about more than looks.

Chateau Léoube is the wine wing of the Daylesford Organic brand, itself part of the JCB digger dynasty. Based near La Lavandou, on the Côte d’Azur, it looks every bit the Provençal dream: the vines seemingly melting into the Mediterranean, the warm air infused with Lavender, and the winery sufficiently squeaky clean that you could pick up and eat a pissaladière off the floor. Although not actually its top wine, my favourite from the range is Secret de Léoube (£25.99 at Ocado or £29.99 at branches of Oxford Wine Co and £30 at Daylesford).

Organically grown Grenache and Cinsault dominate, but it also has a relatively unusual portion of Cabernet Sauvignon, which adds to the texture and contributes to its more serious style. The nose offers wafts of perfumed Alpine strawberries, zesty pink grapefruit and a hint of something more tropical, papaya perhaps. Delicately textured, there’s a beguiling bitter note of fennel alongside the generous summer fruits, with that proximity to the Med evident in the refreshing dry saline finish.

So what makes it right for a winter’s night? Well, being transported back to summer does no harm, for starters, but it comes into its own paired with food. Rosé has a lovely – and underappreciated – affinity with herbs and spices, so it worked wonders with our chilli-dipped spring rolls. The refreshing acidity and persistent red fruit cut through our rich Thai green curry. And it even worked with pudding, a selection of ripe tropical fruits.

What’s more, thanks to the tweeting fans of UK wine hour, on which I appeared this week, I am now itching to try rosé with roast beef, which apparently works really well too.

Admittedly, Secret de Léoube is not cheap, but it’s incredibly elegant, a real treat and perhaps also a metaphor for the premium status that Provence rosé now enjoys.

Join me if you can for the next 3 Thursdays at 1830 GMT @vinsdeprovenceuk on Instagram live for ‘Provence Goes Festive’, featuring top chefs Sabrina Ghayour, Nina Parker and Milli Taylor with simple inspiration for rosé food pairing.

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