2020 Peyrassol Cuvee des Commandeurs Rose
Naming your pink rose wine with the macho title of “Commandeurs” may seem like a funny thing to do. But there are two explanations for this name. First, it’s from France, and the French do a lot of silly things. Second, this winery was founded by the ancient order of Militum Sigillum Cristi de Templo – or the Order of the Knights Templar.
Now the order of the Knights Templar can mean a lot of different things to different people. If you’re a Hollywood producer, they’re a mysterious honor-bound secret society that pretty much fits into any film set from the 1120s to the 21st-century. If you’re a Pope, they were an amazingly effective military force—until a French King deeply indebted to them gets political and orders you to excommunicate them so he can seize all their assets. If you were an Ottoman, they were oddly self-aggrandizing pirates. If a Muslim, they were simply terrorists.
But no matter your previous disposition, by the end of the 13th century, this Christian order was forced to scatter from the lands they had captured in the Eastern Mediterranean. Heroic fighters, they did not give up easily and wherever they went, they tended to raise up amazingly effective military defenses as well as plant vineyards (gotta have wine for mass).
Which brings us to this winery, and its long name:
Sometime around 1204 the Count of Provence granted Guillaume Catel, the Master of the House of Templars Provence, the Order of the Commanderie Peyrassol, thus forming a new military order in the heart of the hills of the Var, just above the village of Flassans-sur-Isole, France. So that is where the Peyrassol in the name comes from.
While the Order’s founding is a touch vague, its wine production is not. By 1256 the Order was producing over 28,000 liters of wine, to feed its own troops as well large numbers of pilgrims heading off to the Holy Land. This beautiful expanse of sun, soil and aspect became renowned as one of the jewels of Provence, and amazingly enough – not only has this domaine maintained wine production for over 765 years: but it still retains its magnificent reputation. And it shows in this bottle:
A beautiful copper – salmon glow comes this limp liquid just being poured into the glass. And extraordinary smell of wet raspberries, freshly picked neroli and Meyer lemon bring for the beautiful delineation in this wine. This is Peyrassol’s top wine, and it is such not because it’s more “massive” or “full” than its cheaper brothers. Rather, it’s because of its precision, minerality, and gorgeous-drinking verve on the palate. I don’t believe I need to mention it, but I will – the wine is completely DRY, being a French rose. The finish is long and fresh, leaving the imbiber with the joyful combination of gooseberry and raspberries ripened by Provence sunshine.
Oh, and why the Cuvee des Commandeurs? Because when you’re the knights of your own military order, you get to drink the very best. And that’s exactly what this is.