The South of France is synonymous with Rosé, as this type of wine becomes increasingly more popular. For some people, they find a stigma against this pink-colored wine, while others embrace it as the latest trend. The salmon-colored wine has its own following, and interesting enough, it goes back in time to when the Greeks first introduced grapevines to an area in the South of France now known as Provence in about 600 BC.
The French are the number one consumers of this wine, France is the largest producer in the world, and today Provence is the prime region where Rosé is created. It goes without saying that when Provence In The City 2015 came to Los Angeles, it was a wonderful opportunity to learn more about Rosé as well as the other wines from this region.
The color of Rosé ranges from a very pale pink to a darker Salmon color. The Rosés from Provence have an iridescent hue that is almost opalesque, luminous, or pearl-like in its color.
The aroma that permeates Rosé often reminds me of the sea on a day when there is a slight wind. It reminds me of the smells I often sensed when I strolled along the Côte d’Azur in Nice and Cannes on my visit to the French Riviera or when I drove down the coast of the Mediterranean Sea from St. Tropez to San Remo. They also have subtle nuances that differentiate them from other Rosés throughout the world. Perhaps it is the fresh soft flavors of fruit and herbs de Provence that make wines stand out.
With its borders spanning from the Mediterranean Sea to the Rhone River Valley and the Alps, Provence consists of three appellations: Côtes de Provence, Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence and Coteaux Varois en Provence. The terroir is influenced by the maritime climate that comes off the Mediterranean Sea. Known as the Mistral wind, it comes down from the Rhone River Valley. The soils in the north are mostly made up of limestone, while in the south, it is crystalline.
Provence Rosé Varieties
The varieties that makeup Rosé from Provence are Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault, Tibouren, Mourvédre, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Counoise. Some wineries add a small percentage of Rolle to the wine to give it roundness. Either direct pressing or Maceration, a process that leaves the grapes on their skins for a period of time, produces most of the wines.
Here are some of my favorites Provence Rosés and other wines from the tasting and seminar I attended:
Château Roubine Cru Classé is one of the oldest estates in France. It dates back to the 14th century. This winery served three different Rosé. The 2014 Cuvée “R” combines Grenache, Syrah, and Cinsault to deliver a very round Rosé with nice acidity. The 2014 Cuvée Premium- Cru Classé is a subtle Rosé with a nice roundness and flavors of nectarine. This Rosé is a blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Tibouren, Syrah and Mourvédre.
The wines of Close de l’Ours named after bears because the family says their father is like a bear. The 2014 Grizzly Rosé comprises six grapes, syrah, Grenache, Cinsault, Carignan, and Mourvédre. The wine exhibits wonderful strawberry flavors and is a bright, crisp wine.
Domaine du Clos D’Alari is not only a winery but also a charming Bed and Breakfast. The location offers a delightful setting along with the excellent wines, owner Nathalie Vancoillie creates in the heart of Var, France. The 2013 Grand Clos, a blend of Grenache, Mourvédre, Rolle, and Cinsault, comes from free-run juice and is a bright, subtle wine.
Domaine du Grand Cros creates Rosé in a very cool microclimate. The 2014 L’Esprit De Provence is a subtle, elegant wine with stone fruit flavors that combines Grenache and Syrah. The 2014 Domaine Du Grand Cros, a blend of Cinsault, Grenache, and Mourvédre, has a wonderful floral perfume on the nose and flavors of Strawberries.
Hecht & Bannier was one of my first stops at the tasting, and served a delightfully elegant Rosé. It is bright with strawberry and spice on the palate.
More Provence Rosé
For those liking a more herbal Rosé from a higher elevation, Les Vins Bréban presented the 2014 Domaine D’Estienne, a blend of Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, and Rolle. The grapes had a longer hang time, and the wine was softer on the nose. The Rolle gives this Rosé a nice roundness. I think the wine reminding me most of the South of France and the sea was the Maitres Vignerons de Saint Tropez 2014 Château De Pampelonne, a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, and Tiouren. On the nose, one found apple and citrus, while on the palette, apple, peach, and herbs.
Mas De Cadenet is the oldest Family winegrower in Provence. Dating back to 1813, this winery utilizes organic farming and practices in its winemaking. Famille Négrel means sleepless nights and describes the nighttime harvest of this wine. The 2014 vintage exudes flavors of peaches. The Arbaude 2014 is complex with more depth and is spicier. My favorite was the 2014 Mas de Cadenet which combines Grenache, Cinsault, and a small portion of Syrah. The wine has floral notes with peach and mineral flavors.
Finally, the Château De Brigue 2014 Brigue Prestige, a blend of equal portions of Grenache and Cinsault, exhibited a nose of wild strawberries and red currant with a pinch of herbs. The wine is balanced and elegant, with a yummy creaminess. The florals gave way to a nice acidity, and one found peach on the finish.
As a lover of Rosé, I was enthralled with this tasting and the quality of the overall wine presented. The majority of the wines displayed a refreshing elegance showing off what I call the dance between art and science that is necessary in creating an exceptional Rosé.
As summer approaches, let us join in this dance to discover the subtle, elegant nuances that the Rosés from Provence offers.