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Seeing The World Through The Pink Glasses

May 10, 2015 14 comments

Provence TastingWhat do you think we will be talking about today? Typically the “pink glasses” is just an expression, an allegory; we use it to say that all is good in the world. But sometimes those allegories can materialize, for instance, in the form of Rosé tasting.
Rosé is Rosé is Rosé. Rosé wines became extremely popular over the last 3–4 years. Nowadays, almost every winery I know of added at least one Rosé to their repertoire, if anything, to be available at least in the tasting room. But then there are those who started it all, for whom Rosé is a way of life and not just following the fashion and consumer demand. I’m sure that by now you figured that I’m talking about Rosé wines from Provence in France.

The Provence wine tasting I attended a few weeks more than two month ago was dedicated to all of the wines made in Provence, not just Rosé. However, if we will look at the stats of wine production in Provence, 89% of those wines are Rosé, 7.5% are red, and 3.5% are white, so it is no wonder that Provence is typically associated with Rosé. Total wine production in Provence in 2014 was about 177 million bottles. To give you more numbers, there are about 600 producers and 40 negociants in Provence. Overall, 9% of the wines produced in the world are Rosé, with the general trend of producing drier wines (particularly Provence Rosé has less than 4g of residual sugar per liter of wine). Provence is the largest region in the world dedicated to production of the Rosé wines. Also, France is the biggest producer and consumer of the Rosé wines, and U.S. is the biggest consumer of Rosé outside of France.

Provence was a cradle of winemaking in France, starting from the 600 B.C. in the area around Marseille. It is easy to understand why the wines were “rosé” in its style – maceration in contact with skin was simply not used, so the wine was produced from the juice which the grapes were “bleeding” after harvest, which would have a pinkish color. Today, the Rosé is produced in the very similar way as for the thousands of years, allowing only brief period of the skin contact. Most of the Provence Rosé are produced from Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvèdre, Tibouren, Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon.

400px-Vignobles_provence-fr.svg

Provence Appellations. Source: Wikipedia

There are three main appellations in Provence, and one of those main appellations has four sub-appellations (you can see them on the map):

  • Côtes de Provence AOP
    • Côtes de Provence Sainte-Victoire AOP
    • Côtes de Provence Fréus AOP
    • Côtes de Provence La Londe AOP
    • Côtes de Provence Pierrefeu AOP (First vintage in 2013)
  • Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence AOP
  • Coteaux Varois en Provence AOP

Now, let’s talk about the seminar and tasting. In the seminar, we tasted 5 different Rosé wines from the different sub-appellations, as well as two reds. To be entirely honest, I didn’t find the dramatic differences between the wines from the different appellations – they were all Rosé wines, and I liked most of them (I’m a sucker for a good Rosé).

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Here are my notes, which will give you some level of details:

2014 Château Trains Organic Côtes Varois de Provence (SRP $15, Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah)
C: Pink
N: hint of sweetness, strawberries, intense
P: Dry, tart strawberries, lemon, acidity
V: Pleasant, round, Drinkability: 8-

2014 Château Coussin Cuvée César Côtes de Provence Sainte-Victoire (SRP $45, 75% Grenache, 25% Syrah)
C: Pink
N: Gentle, savory, minerality, onion peel after intense swirl
P: Dry, intense acidity, very clean, beautiful fruit, perfect balance.
V: Nice, clean, very elegant. Drinkability: 8

2014 Château Pas du Cerf (SRP $13.99, Grenache, Syrah, Tibouren)
C: intense pink
N: touch of strawberries, onion peel
P: refreshing, good amount of fruit, ripe strawberries, good balance, full body ( for rose), minerality
V: Very good, Drinkability: 8-

2014 Château Pigoudet Classic Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence (SRP $17, Grenache, Cinsault, Ugni Blanc)
C: almost white
N: delicious, intense, white flowers, fresh
P: clean, crisp, vibrant, good finish, very pleasant aftertaste
V: Drinkability: 8-

2014 Château Roubine Cru Classé Cuvée Premium (Cinsault, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Tibouren, Syrah, Mourvedre)
C: intense pink
N: strawberries, minerality, onion peel
P: lots of fruit, ripe strawberries, full body, excellent finish
V: Drinkability: 8

2011 Château La Mascaronne Rouge Faziole Côtes de Provence (SRP $25, Syrah, Mourvedre)
C: garnet
N: pepper, spices, herbs, tobacco – beautiful
P: same profile as on the nose – intense pepper, sage, herbs and mineral dominated, has lightness and leaves you desiring another glass. Might not be for everyone
V: Drinkability: 8+

2001 Château de Pourcieux Grand Millésime Côtes de Provence (Syrah, Grenache)
C: garnet
N: soft, touch of plume
P: subtle flavors meld well together, nice package overall
V: Drinkability: 7+/8-

The tasting consisted of 65 different wines, out of which one was white, 7 were red, the the rest (57) were Rosé. What I really liked about this tasting was a very unique format. Nobody was pouring the wines for you. All the wines were standing on the tables in the middle of the room, each wine having a sticker with the number on it. All the numbers were corresponding to the wine descriptions in the tasting booklet. Everybody were walking around and pouring the wines for themselves. The winery representative were all on hand, available to answer any questions. However, because of self pour, there was no need to wait for anyone to pour the wine for you, no need to stand there for 2 minutes, patiently waiting until the person pouring wine would finally notice you – here you could go at your own pace, and it was really convenient. I like this system a lot more than a traditional tasting.

For what it worth, below are my notes. I didn’t taste all 65 wines, but it was something close to it. I used my traditional tasting event rating system with the “+” signs, where “+++” means an excellent and highly recommended wine. All the wines listed below have at least “+++” rating, with the few even exceeding that. I also included additional comments where I had them. Grape composition is provided for all the wines, and suggested retail prices are indicated were available. Lastly, all the wines which don’t specify AOP come from the Côtes de Provence – all other appellations are included as part of the names. Here we go:

Rosé:

2014 Château du Galoupet Cru Classé (Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Tibouren) – +++, very good, balanced
2014 Château de Landue (Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah) – +++
2014 Château La Jeanette Fleurs Côtes de Provence La Londe (Chnsault, Grenache, Syrah) – +++. excellent, round
2014 Château Saint Maur Cru Classé Clos de Capeluine (Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvedre, Rolle) – +++, complex
2014 Château Saint Maur Cru Classé L’Excellence (Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvedre, Rolle) – +++, clean, crisp
2014 Château Les Valentines Organic (SRP $26, Grenache, Cinsault) – +++, beautiful finish
2014 Château Les Valentines Le Caprice de Clémentine (SRP $18, Grenache, Cinsault) – +++1/2, excellent!
2014 Château Des Bormettes Les Vins Bréban (Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah) – +++
2014 Château de Pampelonne Maitres Vignerons de Saint Tropez (SRP $20, Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Tibouren) – +++, excellent!
2013 Domaines Sacha Lichine Château D’Esclans Garrus (Grenache, Rolle) – 8+, very interesting, delicious complexity
2014 Château de Brigue (SRP $13.50, 35% Mourvedre, 15% Cinsault, 30% Grenache) – +++
2014 Château de Brigue Signature (SRP $17.50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 20% Tibouren) – +++
2014 Château de Saint Martin Eternelle Favorite Cru Classé (SRP $25, Cinsault, Grenache, Tibouren) – +++, excellent, crisp
2014 Château de Saint Martin Grande Réserve Cru Classé (SRP $20, Cinsault, Grenache, Tibouren, Syrah, Carignan) – +++, dry, fresh
2014 Domaine de L’Amaurigue (Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah) – +++
2014 Domaine de L’Amaurigue Fleur de L’Amaurigue (Grenache, Cinsault) – +++
2014 Estandon Vignerons Estandon (SRP $13, Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah) – +++, nice balance
2014 Château L’Arnaude Nuit Blanche (50% Cinsault, 35% Grenache, 10% Carignan, 5% Rolle) – +++
2014 Château Roubine Cru Classé Cuvée “R” (Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault) – +++
2014 Domaine Clos de L’ours Grizzly Rosé (Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault, Carignan, Mourvedre, Rolle) – +++
2014 Estadon Vignerons Terres de Saint Louis Côtes Varois de Provence (SRP $12, Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah) – +++
2014 Famille Quiot Domaine Houchart (SRP $15, Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon) – +++
2014 Famille Quiot Domaine Houchart Côtes de Provence Sainte-Victoire (SRP $20, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) – +++1/2, excellent, round
2014 Château Pigoudet Premiére Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence (SRP $13, Grenache, Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah) – +++
2014 Château Vignelaure Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence (Grenache, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon) – +++
2014 Château Vignelaure Source de Vignelaure Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence (Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon) – +++
2014 Château Beaulieu Gassier en Provence Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence (SRP $16.99, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cinsault) – +++
2014 Les Quatre Tours “Classique” Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence (SRP $17, 50% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Rolle) – +++
2014 Maison Saint Aix Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence (SRP $18-$20, Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault) – +++

White:

2014 Domaine Terre de Mistral Anna Côtes de Provence (Rolle) – +++, nice complexity

Red:

2012 Château Réal d’Or (Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Syrah) – +++, perfect Cab!
2013 Domaine Clos de L’ours Grizzly Red Côtes de Provence (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre) – +++, yummy, open, pepper!
2012 Domaine Longue Tubi Red (Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon) – +++, delicious

All in all, this was an excellent tasting. I don’t know if there is ever a bad year in Provence, but I definitely liked lots of 2014 Rosé, and I think you will too. Also, if you will have an opportunity to try a Provence Red – don’t miss it, those wines are definitely worth your attention. Happy Provence Rosé (and red) hunting! Cheers!

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