This week David Williams selected his 40 best wines available in the UK ahead of the 2019 summer, with ten wines recommended for each category; red, white, rosé and sparkling. Chosen by Williams, a nominee for IWSC Wine Communicator of the Year, as one of ten rosés, Le Bijou de Sophie Valrose continues its streak of excellent reviews on the 2018 vintage where this stunning rosé from Languedoc is described as “matching its peers down the Mediterranean coast in Provence”. The talent of the winemakers from this southern region of France produces a fantastic, high quality rosé yet at a much more affordable price than its provençal counterparts, available in Waitrose for just £7.49 this month. After two poor harvests in Provence grape prices have more than doubled in the region and therefore consumers are being hit with shelf prices dramatically climbing year on year. As a result, Languedoc rosés such as Le Bijou de Sophie Valrose have moved to the foreground and are catching the eye of the UK public; a reflection of growing rosé production in the region, approximately 25 million bottles annually. Bijou’s Sophie Valrose rosé has a delightful profile of “subtle strawberry and melon” combined with a “wash of fresh acidity” according to Williams, that not only makes it perfect for sipping in the sunshine, but also as a partner to light summer meals such as white meats, fish and salads.
The premium quality and brilliant structure of the rosé is largely thanks to the old bush vines and volcanic soils on which the grapes are grown, giving a fantastic minerality and complexity to the wine. The blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah, varieties indigenous to Languedoc, creates a beautiful salmon pink colour that shimmers through the elegant flute bottle; an accurate precursor to the elegant and fragrant rosé within.
The name behind this particular Bijou rosé is inspired by the Languedoc legend of the women herself; Sophie Valrose. During the 14th century Sophie fought hard for women’s rights in the Languedoc vineyards and wineries in which she worked. The legend has it that she worked harder and longer than anyone else, whether it be pruning the vines, training or harvesting, however, due to her being “the weaker sex”, she was not even allowed inside the wineries or to be involved with the winemaking process. She contested not only this but also the inequality of pay between female and male workers that seems, as a theme, just as relevant now as it was then.
Read the Guardian’s best rosés article here.