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Posts Tagged ‘Provence’

From Lodi And Provence, With Love

May 12, 2018 3 comments

Provence RoséWe drink wine because it gives us pleasure. Yes, it is that simple (and I didn’t come up with this – I learned it from Kevin Zraly, maybe the best wine educator in the world). We are looking for pure and simple sensual pleasure in every sip of that white, pink or red colored liquid in the glass, and, of course, it makes us happy when we find it.

When it comes to giving pleasure, I have to state that Rosé has an unfair advantage. We start drinking with our eyes, and while white and red have to compete for our attention with creative labels or sometimes even bottle shapes, Rosé takes a lot more simplistic approach – it just stands in front of us – naked. Clear bottle, nothing to hide – here I am, and I know I’m beautiful, so yes, do look at me and feel free to admire.

I don’t know if colors have universal meaning around the world – for instance, red is typically associated with danger or daring in the Western world – and red is the color of luck in China. So the pink color is usually associated with love and happiness in the Western world, and this is why the bottle of Rosé is so good at driving our emotions, no matter what shade of pink it actually boasts.

Acceptance, appreciation, and demand for Rosé stand at all times high today – and it continues climbing to the new “high” every year. Rosé still has a stigma of “summer wine”, but this is slowly changing as people start recognizing how much pleasure every sip of good Rosé packs, and how versatile it is with food – I would dare to say that in its food pairing versatility, it can well compete with Champagne, which is very hard to beat in its pairing range of cuisines from traditional Chinese to fiery Indian, sublime French, or big and bold Texas BBQ.

Today, Rosé is made everywhere – literally everywhere in the world. It is hard to find a winery which didn’t add Rosé to its repertoire. But before Rosé became so fashionable, there was Provence. More than 90% of the wines made in Provence are Rosé, and then they’ve been practicing for about thousand years, so Rosé is really a way of life in Provence, which is easy to see once you take a sip from the glass. I might surprise you with a choice of a close contender to the dominance of Provence – and they are not at all if you will think about the production volume – but when it comes to the taste, Rosé from Lodi in California will easily give Provence a run for the money.

Just look at these colors! Don’t they scream “pleasure”? The Provence Rosé in this picture is only for the color reference purpose, was not part of the tasting

Ever since visiting Lodi in 2016 for the Wine Bloggers Conference, I use every opportunity to confess my love to the region. Lodi might be one of the best-kept secrets in California wine. While a lot of wineries and regions are contemplating their approach to sustainability, Lodi grape growers already developed so-called Lodi Rules (now being analyzed and copied in many regions) for sustainable viticulture, and they have the certification program in place to ascertain that rules don’t just stay theoretical. What starts in the vineyards, continues in the wineries, and the result is simply better wines.

Most of the times Lodi is associated with Zinfandel. Of course, Zinfandel is one of the best known and important grapes in Lodi, but on a big scale, Lodi is a home of the Mediterranean grape varieties – Albarino, Grenache Blanc, Carignan, Grenache, Syrah, Tempranillo and many others, made into delicious, perfectly restrained wines. Lodi goes beyond just the grapes – we need to talk ancient grapes here. lodi is home to some of the oldest in the world plantings of Carignan and Cinsaut (Cinsault), original Mediterranean varieties, also planted on its own rootstock (phylloxera doesn’t survive in Lodi’s sandy soils). Definitely another level – and should be a subject of a separate post.

I had a pleasure of tasting 5 different Rosé for this post – two from Lodi and 3 from Provence. One of the Lodi Rosé is coming from Markus Bokisch, truly a master of Spanish (yes, Mediterranean) grape varieties. Second Lodi wine is produced by Estate Crush from ancient vines Cinsaut, from 130 years old vineyard. Provence wines are coming from two estates owned by Provence Rosé Group – two wines from the Château de Berne, the estate tracing its origins back to the 12th century. The last Provence Rosé is from the Ultimate Provence, the experimental estate which combines traditional Provence with urban design. Before we talk about the wines, just look at those Provence bottles – each one is practically the work of art, uniquely appealing beyond just the color.

Here are my notes:

2017 Bokisch Bokisch Vineyards Terra Alta Vineyard Rosado Clements Hill – Lodi (13.6% ABV, $18, 80& Garnacha, 20% Tempranillo)
Beautiful salmon pink color, very delicate
Fresh tart strawberries on the nose, medium intensity, touch of Meyer lemon
Strawberries all the way on the palate, the wine is definitely more present on the palate than any from Provence, a touch of sweetness, medium body, good acidity, very good balance. Refreshing and quaffable. Sweetness significantly subsided on the second day. Outstanding.
Drinkability: 8-, will be perfect with any spicy food.

2016 Estate Crush Rosé of Cinsaut Bechthold Vineyard Lodi (12.5% ABV, $21, 100% Cinsaut, 130 years old vineyard)
Bright strawberry pink
Strawberries and caramel on the nose, even the toffee flavor, sweet condensed milk. Caramel and toffee are mostly gone after first swirl and sip 😦
Nicely restrained palate, a touch of strawberry with very high lemon acidity and Long, acidity-driven finish – I keep salivating for about 30 seconds already. This will compete neck in neck with any Provence wine
Drinkability: 8, excellent. This wine also perfectly passes room temperature test.

2017 Château de Berne Emotion Côtes de Provence AOP (13% ABV, $16, 50% Grenache Noir, 25% Cinsault, 25% Syrah)
Light salmon pink/onion peel
Strawberries on the nose, ripe strawberries on the palate, excellent balance, clean, fresh, easy to drink.
Drinkability: 8, excellent, delicious from the get go (as one would expect from Rosé). Was also excellent with food!

2017 Château de Berne Inspiration Côtes de Provence AOP (13% ABV, $19.99, 70% Grenache Noir, 20% Cinsault, 10% Syrah)
Salmon pink
Delicate nose, lemon notes, minerality, a touch of funk
Pretty rough edges on the palate initially, interesting vegetative undertones.
Drinkability: 7+, might be a food wine.
3 days later, the palate is better integrated, clean and balanced. Totally unexpected. Drinkability: 8-/8

2017 Ultimate Provence Urban Provence Côtes de Provence AOP (12.5% ABV, $22.99, 45% Grenache Noir, 35% Cinsault, 15% Syrah, 5% Rolle)
Delicate light baby pink
Complex nose, strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb, a touch of flowers, a cheese note (light, disappeared after some breathing time)
Clean, bright, fresh palate, strawberries and strawberry compote, crisp acidity, very refreshing – but all the fruit quicky fading, and the wine doesn’t appear balanced.
Drinkability: 7+, unique and unusual nose. Palate might be too dry after all.
3 days later – 8-/8, round, strawberries and raspberries with white stone fruit undertones, clean, totally different level of pleasure. Another surprise.

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Here you are, my friends – 5 very interesting Rosé to brighten up any day, summer, winter, holiday, and not.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day, so you still have time to surprise Mom with your good taste in wine. And if you are a mom reading this – Happy Mother’s Day to you and thank you for everything you do!

 

 

Enjoy Your Summer A Little Bit More – With Rosé from WTSO

July 7, 2017 Leave a comment

Is summer the best time of the year? Well, I love all seasons, but with the right weather, summer might be the most enjoyable. Can we enjoy it “better”? Of course – with a glass of Rosé in your hand.

There is something special about the Rosé. We eat with our eyes first, and we drink that way too. If you think about color of the white wine, you get the range from literally a clear water to a dark gold – white wine is fun to look at, but the color of it doesn’t provoke much thought, unless you are in a blind tasting setting. Similar story with the reds – the color goes from the bright ruby to literally black, but again, the color doesn’t bring that much of the visual pleasure.

Rosé is a totally different game. The shades of pink go from the onion peel to salmon to copper to electric pink, and just a visual effect of the bottle of Rosé is appealing and uplifting, it says “the world looks a little bit better now, isn’t it”? We don’t always carry around those pink-colored glasses which improve our life’s outlook, but the bottles of Rosé can have the same effect. Who is with me? Yep, go pour yourself another glass.

So we agreed that Rosé itself can make our summer better. Can we further improve that? Of course! With the help of Wines ‘Til Sold Out, commonly known as WTSO. WTSO provides tremendous service to all of the wine lovers – it finds great wines at amazing prices – and passes savings to all of us. To make our summer even better than it is, WTSO is offering a special Côtes de Provence Rosé 4-pack collection, which you can find here.

I had an opportunity to taste these wines and here are my impressions:

2016 Famille Négrel Diamant de Provence Côtes de Provence (12.5% ABV)
C: pale, very pale pink
N: minerality, gunflint, ocean breeze
P: beautiful fresh profile, touch of underripe strawberries, crisp acidity, nice salinity, excellent balance. Appears very light, but very present in the glass.
V: 8, very nice, perfectly enjoyable, and guaranteed to remove at least 5 degrees off the thermometer.

2016 Château Garamache Côtes de Provence (12% ABV)
C: light salmon pink
N: muted, touch of green leaves
P: savory, good lemony acidity, but missing on the overall package. Acidic finish, needs more fruit.
V: 7-, should be good with food – salad comes to mind.

2016 Château Gassier Ormilles Côtes de Provence (13% ABV)
C: beautiful pink color, rose gold
N: onion peel, strawberries, medium intensity, inviting
P: ripe strawberries with touch of honey, a bit of perceived sweetness, perfect balance, delicious.
V: 8/8+, quintessential Provence. When I think “Provence”, this is a taste profile I expect

2016 Domaine du Garde Temps Tourbillon Vielles Vignes Côtes-de-Provence (12.5% ABV, 50% Cinsault, 30% Grenache, 20% Syrah)
C: bright salmon pink
N: onion peel and savory strawberries
P: fresh, crisp, tart strawberries, beautiful palate cleanser, excellent balance.
V: 8, nicely present wine, good weight in the mouth, excellent for summer and not only. Needs about 20 minutes to breath.

Enjoy your summer and drink Rosé! Cheers!

Rosé! It’s Good For Summer, And All Year Around

August 22, 2015 10 comments

Domains Roger ZannierSo tell me, dear reader – do you think Rosé is for summer, or is it a year-around wine? In January, when it is –10 outside, would you still reach for Rosè to drink with your dinner? No, you only need heavy reds, you say? But why? Your dinner menu doesn’t consist of 5 variations of the hearty beef stew, and so the wines you drink shouldn’t be just Cabernet Sauvignon from 5 different glasses.

Well, I think the real picture is not as bad as I’m hinting above. The same way as now literally every winery in the world added Rosé to their repertoire, wine drinkers developed better appreciation for Rosé, its light and playful character, and ability to complement wide variety of dishes.

And which region makes the most versatile Rosé? Provence, of course! Yes, Rosé is made everywhere nowadays, but when it comes to finesse and character, Provence Rosé is hard to beat.

I recently had an opportunity to taste the line of Rosé wines from Domains Roger Zannier, and it happened to be a great lesson in diversity of Provence Rosé.

Domains Roger Zannier Rosé line up consisted of three different wine, each one having its own unique personality. In a blind tasting I would never tell that the wines were made by the same producer. And the main quality – while extremely quaffable, these wines offer food for thoughts, they are asking you to focus and to figure out what you taste.

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For what it worth, below you will find tasting notes for the Domains Roger Zannier wines – I hope the notes will illustrate my point:

2014 Domaines Roger Zannier Château Saint-Maur Cuveé M Rosé Côtes de Provence AOP ($25, 25% Grenache, 25% Tibouren, 25% Cinsault, 25% Syrah)
C: darkest of the 3, pink and nice
N:strawberries, fresh
P: very refreshing, good acidity, touch of strawberries, nice intensity
V: 8-

2014 Domaines Roger Zannier Château Saint-Maur L’Excellence Rosé Côtes de Provence AOP ($45, 30% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, 30% Mourvédre, 10% Rolle)
C: beautiful light pink
N: touch of red fruit, intense with finesse
P: perfect acidity, touch of lemon, and lemon zest, lots of strawberries, overall delicious
V: 8

2014 Domaines Roger Zannier Château Saint-Maur Clos de Capelune Rosé Côtes de Provence AOP ($65, 35% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, 20% Mourvédre, 15% Rolle)
C: salmon pink
N: clearly a red wine on the nose, cured meat, onion peel
P: savory, complex, but light. Definitely thought provoking
V: 8, different and intriguing. Try it for yourself.

Three wines, three unique and different taste profiles. And an important message – first of all, these are excellent, versatile wines. And then yes, they are pink (or mostly pink) in color.

Don’t let Rosé to hibernate away from your dinner table during fall and winter – no matter what temperature is outside, there is always place for a little Rosé in your glass. Cheers!

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!