Since I'm in the Bay Area for our annual American Wine Awards event, I took the opportunity to head over to the East Bay and grab lunch at the Chez Panisse's Café. Seemed like a good idea, since I haven't been there in thirteen years and, after all, it's Chez Panisse.

Something about the dark, wood-beamed, stained-glass space made me feel rather as though I were having lunch inside a particularly well appointed Hobbit hole—go figure—but the kitchen still has that ability to turn out mundane-sounding dishes like "avocado and beet salad with citrus vinaigrette" that pretty much blow you away, simply because of the quality of the ingredients. The same was true of the aïoli served with a perfectly cooked (and very flavorful) piece of Northern halibut—the garlickiness of the aïoli had the subtle, perfumed character of fresh farmer's market garlic rather than the hoary pungent heads of the stuff, imported from God knows where in China, that lately have been turning up at grocery stores near me.

Anyway, the point is that the wine I had to go with all this, a 2007 Domaine Tempier Bandol Rosé ($35), is a wine to put to rest any comments that rosé can't be serious stuff. It was luscious, not in a fat, overripe, fruit-jam way, but in a tongue-caressing, silky, substantial-for-a-rosé way. Great strawberry and raspberry fruit notes, but what impressed me most was the texture, which was just plain seductive. Kermit Lynch imports it, and it certainly isn't cheap (especially for a rose), it's still more than worth picking up.