The Wines of Provence Event in NYC: Snow on the Ground but Spring in the Glass
March in New York has been particularly bitter, but snow on the ground still meant wine that somehow, felt like Spring might be in the air as we sampled rose wines from Provence in our glasses at a walk-around tasting on March 2nd at the Humprey at the Eventi Hotel in Manhattan, which was very well attended by credentialed wine trade and media.
No matter how complicated vinophiles try to make wine sound, in the end a glass of wine is about four things. Those are:
- Varietal: or the type of grape or grapes being used,
- Terroir: or the soil and climate where the grapes were grown,
- Style: or the way that the winemaker blended the wine, and
- Age: or the vintage and aging of the wine in the bottle.
These four things come together to make each distinct bottle of wine. Depending on what general type of wine it is; however, the relative importance of the mix can change. This is definitely seen in the iconic wines of the Provence region of southern France where a unique mix of grape varietals, a dry, warm Mediterranean climate and a century’s old tradition create a vast selection of unique rose wines.
We had the opportunity to attend a walk around tasting featuring 65 different bottles of wine from the region at the Provence in the City event on March 2. Of the 65 wines, 57 were the distinctive rose blends that this area is so well known for. In fact, Provence is the birthplace of rose wine, which was likely first produced there in about 600 BC. Today, rose’s make up 88 percent of the classified wines produced in the region.
Rose wines in Provence rely on the local grape variety, Mourvèdre, which alone produces wine that can be quite tannic with earthy notes and a strawberry like flavor. In Provence this grape is generally blended with Grenache and Cinsault, a dark and prolific grape that originated in Northern Africa. Together, these grapes produce rose wines that tend to be quite minerally in character with a lot of strawberry both on the nose and on the palate.
We tasted about a dozen wines from throughout the various appellations of the Provence region, and as a whole found them to be quite consistent in terms of taste profile, and pricing. Across the board, the color of the wines was a blush pink, the nose was somewhat floral and earthy and the palettes were dominated by strawberries and some tropical fruits. Rose’s from Provence are not, however, sweet and fruity, but rather are dominated by minerality, which leads them to pair well with a range of foods. These include not only traditional Provencal dishes like bouillabaisse but also with spicy international foods like curries and Mexican cuisine, but with pizza, pasta, tapas, Greek gyros, and shell fish.
Since the colorful wine is so festive and spring-like, we personally see it as a perfect pairing wine for cook-outs, bar-b-que, clam bakes, and other festive occasions that bring together a lot of people. In addition, since most of the offerings from the region are inexpensive, they make a great hostess gift or picnic take along wine.
Some of the wines that we tasted that stand out well for picnics and bar-b-ques were:
Chateau De Landue (2014 Rose) from Chateau la Jeannette. Priced at just over $10 a bottle, this wine provided a floral somewhat heby nose, with a lot of berbs and pear notes to balance the normal strawberry on the palatte. The Chateau de Landue was also less minerally than some of the other wines that we tasted which made it easier to drink.
Lampe De Meduse, (2014 Rose) from Chateau Sainte Roseline. While this wine retails for about $40, it was none of the more distinctive that we tasted. The nose was citrusy, with a strong smell of bitter lemons, and the palette was very well balanced between fruit and minerality. There were the usual strawberries, but there was also a lot of beach in the nose. The wine itself is more of a salmon color, and it comes in a very interesting presentation bottle.
Pierre & Paul Cotes de Provence BIO (2014 Rose) from Domaines Pierre Chavin. This light pink wine is priced at about $10 a bottle and featured an herbal nose focused on pepper and lavender. The wine was one of the most fruit forward that we tasted with a rich mix of tropical fruits and pineapple. The minerality was found more on the finish, again making this an excellent choice for less experienced wine consumers.
Rosalie (2014 Rose) from Domaine Terre de Mistral. This light pink wine comes in an interesting presentation bottle and is priced at about $18. The nose on the wine was unremarkable, almost non-existent, but on the palette, the fruits came out. Lots of berries, with some citrus on the finish. Consistent with its cousins throughout the region, with acidity and minerality of the wine were both strong .
Domaine Houchart (2014 Rose) from Famille Quiot – Domaine Houchart. Priced at about $20, the nose on this salmon colored rose featured white floral and rose notes. The wine was very crisp and well balanced with significant minerality. There was not a lot of fruit on the palette but the wine showed very well with the local goat and cow’s milk cheeses that were available at the walk around tasting.
Overall, the rose wines of Provence are good values that will pair well with a range of foods. With spring and summer on the way, they can make excellent party gifts and can enhance any get together of family and friends.
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*thanks to John R. Dunham, our “wine reporter, for this report.