Pêches de vigne 1, 30 € le kilo” said the chalked sign at the greengrocer’s. The peaches thus advertised were small and unusually densely covered in grayish fuzz, but as I passed the wheelbarrow upon which they were heaped, their powerful fragrance convinced me to buy several. After washing them, I sliced one open and gasped: the flesh of the peach was a dark wine-red throughout, dripping crimson juice. I ate a slice. It had an intense, very peachy, sweet and acidic flavor that matched its appearance perfectly.

When I returned to the greengrocer’s the next day to purchase more, I learned from the shopkeeper that these red peaches are called “pêches de vigne” because they are usually planted in vineyards, alongside the grape vines. This is because the trees are susceptible to many of the same diseases and pests as grapes, but tend to show symptoms more rapidly; so if the peach tree in the vineyard starts looking less than its best, the farmer knows he needs to be proactive in safeguarding the far more valuable vines from similar trouble. The peach variety best suited for this purpose produces little gray-skinned fruits with burgundy-red flesh, which are mostly sold and consumed locally.

Knowing this is how pêches de vigne are produced, it’s almost impossible not to conjure up mental images of wine from the vineyard seeping up into the sap of the tree and staining the peaches’ flesh blood-red. Pêches de vigne. Vineyard peaches, wine peaches. How delicious.

These marvelous fruits don't seem to be readily available in the United States, where the red-flesh peaches that are grown are usually of the highly astringent "Indian Red" variety which is best for cooking--but that doesn't mean it isn't worth a search. Farmer's markets are treasure-troves of oddities, since small growers thrive in niches. (About availability in other countries, I have no knowledge; but I hope they aren't limited to France.) They are known as "blood peaches" in English. I can imagine them adding a truly exotic note to a first-course terrine, alongside blood oranges and golden beets perhaps. I fervently hope they become the next gourmet fad.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.