As often happens Provence, warm spring weather comes with a certain suddenness and haste. We often get a hint of it in early April, which then turns back to rain and wind – the last dregs of winter reminding us he’ll be back in eight months. Then towards the end of May, the days are long, the sun is strong, the wind is gone, and without warning we’re leaving our balcony doors open all day long.
It’s the cats’ favorite time of the year.
Wine is an all year event in France. There are the foire aux vins, the tastings, the vendage and trimming in the fall, the planting in the spring. Beaujolais nouveau in November. Each wine has its pairings, its courses and yes, its seasons.
In Provence, rosé is the wine that reigns supreme. Not only is Provence the major producer of rosé in France, it’s also a traditional summer drink.
Always served chilled, often with an ice-cube in the glass to keep it fresh, rosé can be either fruity or dry, and goes with just about every summer dish you can imagine. It’s great for picnics, salads, fish, or an evening aperitif.
In this late spring as with years before, the husband and I headed to the cooperative vinicole in Sanary to stock up on rosé.
The Cave Syllazur is one of several wine coops all over the Var where you can buy table wine for under 2 Euros the litre in red, rosé, and white. The grapes come from small producers all over the region who combine their grapes together at the end of the vendage to create a simple, local wine.
Color, price, and alcohol content are listed on the wall. The smallest keg is 3 litres, though they go as high as 20. Pick your wine and your price and your quantity and your wine is pumped into your keg with little to no ceremony.The Cave Syllazur also sells regional wine from all over Var and Provence. Rosé of course is the feature product, but there are several reds produced in the area that are quite nice. Good for gifts or for a more special picnic on the beach.
We bought a 3 litre container of their middle rosé. 12% and 1.60 Euros/litre. At home, I usually bottle the first 75cl in an old, rinsed out rosé bottle to chill in the fridge and then put the rest in our “chest aux vins” where we keep all our wines out of the light and mostly out of the heat.
Rosé is meant to be enjoyed in the heat of summer. This rosé won’t win any awards but it is crisp and fresh. A fruity nose with a dry hint-of-citrus flavor and easy finish.
I used Joy the Baker’s Strawberry Ice idea to keep my wine chilled as I sat on my balcony in the heat of the May afternoon.
Cave Syllazur in Sanary is on the outskirts of the center of the town on Route de la Gare. Their website allows a 360 tour of their Sanary shop, but they also have two others in neighboring towns of Six-Four and Ollioules. Most of the year it’s open Monday through Saturday and in summer, Sunday mornings. Stop in a fill yourself up.
Cod Potato Salad with Green Beans
- 1 large filet of cod, salted
- 2 large waxy potatoes
- 1 red onion
- 3 tbsp chives
- 3 tbsp crème fraiche (substitute for mild sour cream)
- 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste
If salted, first soak and wash your cod for at least 2 hours before cooking.
In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Wash and peel your potatoes. You can cut them now if you want them to boil faster, or wait until after they are cooked. Boil the potatoes about 15-20 minutes – depending on thickness – until they can be pierced easily with a fork, but not to mash stated. Drain, set aside to cool.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Lower to a simmer and poach your cod for 15-20 minutes. It’s essential that the water doesn’t boil while the cod is in there otherwise it will be rubbery and flavorless. Drain and cut into chunks.
Slice your onion into thin strips. Mince your chives.
In a large bowl, combine crème fraiche, chives, onion, lemon, salt and pepper and mix until blended. Add your potatoes and cod. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
This simple dish can be served warm or cold and goes great with a chunk of boiled green beans drizzled with olive oil and fresh ground pepper.
Don’t forget the rosé.