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Rosés on the Via Romana

You would be forgiven to think today’s missive is going to be about Italian rosés. In fact, the via Romana is the 250,000 mile-long network of ancient Roman roads that stretched through the Empire. The main roads were stone paved and constructed of such quality that some modern roads sit on foundations built 2,000 years ago. As a child, I was fascinated whenever my dad announced we were driving on an ancient Roman road – whether in England or on a road trip through mainland Europe – and I imagined myself back in history marching up and down. If he stopped the car, I’d jump out and hunt for treasure, coming back with things I was sure had belonged to Julius Cesar, used to scratch his back or something…

Today’s wines are from the French town of Sancerre, which grew up where the via Romana intersected the upper reaches of the Loire River. Even all those years ago, the Romans traveling through recognized the area for its wines, with Pliny the Younger reporting back on the exceptional grapes he’d encountered.

While Sancerre today has become synonymous with great Sauvignon Blanc, it also makes some wonderful Pinot Noirs, and in the case of these two wineries – some fantastic rosés.

Domaine Pellé Menetou-Salon Morogues Rosé 2020 ($25) is a scintillating glass of wine from a small appellation just next to Sancerre. My mouth started watering as soon as I smelled the sour cherries, herbs and minerals. This rosé just races down the throat with a sizzling zest along with hints of fresh cherries and raspberries. Without thinking, you’ll find your hand lifting your glass for the next sip. Just brilliant.

Domaine Sylvain Bailly La Louée Sancerre Rosé 2020 ($28) has all the sizzle of the Pellé, but with slightly softer fruit that is like biting into a red fleshed peach. Grown on clay soils, which helps create a seamless integration of flavors, the lovely notes of ripe red berries wrap seamlessly around a firm mineral core.

Both wines immediately had me craving fresh seafood, so I pulled out the cast iron grill and headed down to the beach to test these with Oysters Rockefeller. They did not disappoint!

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