When I was growing up and went out on dates, the drink to get was inexpensive Portuguese Roses called Mateus or Lancers. We ordered it and thought we were so, well, continental. A girlfriend reminded me that when the bottle was empty we put a candle in it to use as a centerpiece.  And then for many years I never heard much more about Rose, nor did I see it drunk a lot until a few years ago at a South Beach hot spot where magnums of French Rose on ice were the drink of choice of the Eurosuave crowd. Since then, it’s coming into its own here. In France, Rose surpasses white wine in popularity, and exports to the US increased 40% in 2013 and 32% last year.

Now, finally, artisanal grower and producer from St.Tropez, Maison Angelvin with its golden grape logo has established a beachhead in the U.S., launching in Miami. The Maison is named after the Angelvin family which has been producing some of the finest rose wines for over four generations. The Rose has been well known among the cognoscenti and celebrities who have flocked to the rarefied shores of the Cote d’Azur, from Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn to Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. But only recently did the family decide to export overseas, and now only 1000 cases  a year are destined for the USA.

Maison Angelvin has quite the story to tell — from the harvesting of the grapes by hand at night, to the plantings with roses. I sampled the entry level product, Riviera, which retails for less than $20 a bottle. It’s fresh, crisp and dominated by citrus, shades of candied oranges and grapefruit, a perfect complement to our Miami fare — grilled items, appetizers hors d’oeuvre, salads, tapas. There’s also the floral like Heritage ($25.99 to $29.99) and their premium Grande Reserve ($40-$45). Whichever product you get, it’s in a sleek, made for a fashionista bottle with elegant logo and a crystal stopper that’s reusable.  Since my sampling, I’ve enjoyed it at home several  times —first,  the Riviera with a nicoise salad on one occasion and a Heritage with a fish dinner on another.

After just 2 months in the US Market, Maison Angelvin has been presented at  “The Challenge for the Best French Wines to the USA” and was the most awarded brand of the competition.

You can buy the Roses at leading wine and liquor stores ranging from  Vintage Wine & Spirits and Gulf Liquor to Cave d’Azur and Portofino Wine Bank on the Beach, Buena Vista Deli in Wynwood, Wine by the Bay downtown and Aficionado’s in Brickell . Some of the  top restaurants which feature it include Juvia,  Zuma, Scarpetta at the Fontainebleau,  The Ritz-Carlton and Stefano’s in Key Biscayne and The River Oyster Bar in Brickell. Also, would you believe it’s sold at Panther Coffee (the owner loves it). For a complete list visit their website.

Sante.Bon appetit!

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