Category Archives: Provence

Rose at its Best!

Every other year in the summer, Michele and I rent a house in Provence with another couple. The husband likes Rosè wine, and since it is August, we drink a lot of it. I am always on the lookout for a good Rose and prefer the ones from Provence with their beautiful salmon color.

We are going to Provence again this year, so I was only too happy to accept an invitation to taste Rosè wines from Provence. There were only three wines presented, but it was well worth it. The wines were from Château Barbeyrolles and Chateau La Tour de l’Eveque, both owned by Regine Sumeire.

Pierre-Francois De Bernardi

Pierre-Francois De Bernardi

Matthieu Garcia, the assistant wine maker and Pierre-Francois De Bernard were there to represent the wineries . Matthieu said that Règine Sumeire, third generation of the wine growing family, acquired the Barbeyrolles estate in 1977. She was among the first women winemakers in Provence and has received many honors for her work.

In 1985 Règine visited Haut-Brion and afterward decided to create a new Rosè at the Barbeyrolles estate based on the advice that she received to align her Rosè with some of the white wine vinification methods. This is how “Pétale de Rose” was created.

Matthieu Garcia

Matthieu Garcia

Matthieu said that the Chateau is located in the costal land of the Maures hills. The 12-hectare estate is at the foot of the village of Gassin, one of the three villages on the Saint-Tropez peninsula. The soil is shale dating back to the Paleozoic era.

The WinesIMG_7659

Château Barbeyrolles Rosè 2013 Cuvèe Pétal de Rose AOC Côtes de Provence. Made from 50% Grenache, 21% Mourvèdre, and 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Ugni-Blanc, Rolle and Sémillon. Pierre-Francois De Bernard said that the 2013 vintage was marked by a very cold and rainy spring that delayed the blossoming. This also delayed the harvest. The flowering did not begin until May 26th on the younger vines. The hand harvest took place between September 4th and September 26th. He said that the winery has been using organic growing methods since 2005.

The grapes are hand handpicked between 5:00 AM and 12:00 PM, sorted and loaded directly into the crusher without pressing. The different varieties are vinified separately. The grapes are again sorted in the cellar. The grapes are lightly pressed to obtain optimum delicacy and fragrance. He said that they use a special technology to produce the rose using typical presses from the Champagne region, including one traditional press. Pierre said that the reason for the complexity and unique flavors of the wine is that it undergoes malolatic fermentation and is made from seven different grape varieties. He added that it could age.

This may be the best Rosè I have ever tasted. It is a complex wine with subtle fruit aromas and flavors with good minerality, a wonderful aftertaste and a very long finish. This is a Rosè to drink throughout the year and one which I associate with fine dining.IMG_7660

Château Barbeyrolles Rosè 2014 Cuvèe Pétal de Rose AOC Côtes de Provence Pierre said that the winter was mild and rainy. It was a warm and dry spring, which led to an early summer starting at the beginning of June. By mid–June the temperature became comfortable and there was some rain. The end of August was sunny which allowed the grapes to ripen fully. Harvest was from August 25th to September 16th. This wine was just bottled and needs more time. I would like to try it again in a year or two. The 2013 is the wine to drink now, or if you can find it the 2012. The wine retails for $40 but is well worth the money.IMG_7661

Château La Tour de l’Evêque Rosé 20014 Cuvée Pétale de Rose AOC Côtes de Provence. Made from 42% Cinsault, 38% Grenache, 9% Syrah, 4% Ugni-blanc 3% Mourvèdre, 2% Sèmillon, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Rolle. The hand harvest took place between August 16 and September 16. This is a wine with nice red berry aromas and flavors that is very easy to drink with a nice finish and aftertaste. This is a Rosè to enjoy in a more relaxed setting. $18

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Filed under Chateau Barbeyrolles Rose, Chateau La Tour de lEveque Rose, Provence, Regine Sumeire

Summer Wines for the Weekend

Here are a few wines I have been drinking and enjoying during the summer.IMG_5897

Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG “Millesimato” Spumante Extra Dry. Montelvini Venegazzu. This Prosecco comes from the hills of Montello and Asolo in the region of the Veneto. It is made from 100% Gela, a grape variety with large, wing shaped bunches that ripens late, near the end of September. The grapes are gently pressed, followed by static cold decanting. Selected yeasts are added to the clarified must and it is fermented in thermo-controlled containers for about 15 days. The first fermentation is monitored daily and before it reaches its conclusion the wine is transferred to pressurized vats for a second fermentation. The wine rests for about 20 days on the lees and is then bottled. It remains in the bottle three weeks before release. The wine is fresh and fruity with a hint of golden apples. $18

Bila–Haut was purchased by Michael Chapoutier in 1999 and is located in the best part of the Languedoc, the Cotes du Roussillon in France, an area which I have visited a number of times. Bila-Haut translates to Bila Heights and it was once a refuge for the Knights Templar. The cross featured on the bottle label is in their honor.IMG_5916

Les Vignes de Bila-Haut White Côtes Du Roussillon  2013 made from Grenache Gris, Grenache Blanc, Macabeo and Vermentino (Rolle in France). The 40-year-old plus vines are on the hills of the Agly Valley. The juice is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and aged in the same tanks. After a long maceration of two to three weeks, the wine is aged on the fine lees and then racked from vat to vat which naturally clarifies the wines. The wine is then blended prior to bottling. The wine has hints of citrus aromas and flavors with tropical fruit and good minerality. $13IMG_5919

Les Vignes Rosé Bila Haut 2013 Pays D’Oc This is a blend of Cinsault and Grenache. Mr. Chapoutier went outside the Roussillon area to find a Cinsault from the Gard district that, when blended with Grenache, would produce a delicate and elegant rosé. The grapes are vinified at low even temperatures. The juice is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and aged in those tanks. After a short maceration on the skins, the pink hue is attained and the wine is racked and vinified. The wine is then blended prior to bottling. The wine has hints of citrus and red fruit with a floral aroma. $13IMG_5920

Whispering Angel Rosé 2013 Caves D’Esclans made from Grenache, Rolle (Vermentino) Cinsault, Syrah and Tibouten from the surrounding area of Motte en Provence. Harvesting takes place from sunrise to noon. The grapes are destemmed and a slight crushing takes place at 7/8 degrees C grade to avoid oxidation. Both the free run juice and the pressed juices are vinfied in temperature controlled stainless steel vats. Bâtonnage takes place twice a week. The wine has a light salmon color with nice fruit and hints of peach and raspberries.

Maison Belle Claire 2013 Còtes de Provence Rosè made from 55% Grenache, 25% Syrah and 20% Cinsault. Direct pressing of the grapes. Temperature controlled fermentation in stainless steel and the wine matures in stainless steel. The wine has flavors and aromas of fresh red berries with hints of raspberries and peaches. $17IMG_5918

Bila –Haut Les Vignes Red 2012 Cotes du Roussillon Villages made from Syrah, Grenache and Carignan is perfect to accompany a barbecue. Each of the three grape varieties are carefully vinified at low even temperatures. The juice is fermented in cement vats and aged in the vats. After a long maceration of two to three weeks, the wine is racked from vat to vat, which naturally clarifies the wine. The wine is then blended and aged prior to bottling. The wine has hints of plum, blackberry, black cherry and a touch of spice. $13

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Two Traditional Restaurants in Provence

These are two of my favorite restaurants in Provence,one is perfect for lunch the other for dinner.

Restaurant Auberge de la Clue– Deep in the country east of Vaison la Romaine, this family owned restaurant serves traditional Provencal cooking at a very reasonable price.

Gizzard Salade

Gizzard Salade

I could not resist ordering the gizzard salad with smoked duck breast and walnuts.  I was not disappointed.  The salad was excellent. For he second course I had duck confit one of my favorites and it was perfect. Then there was the dessert – prune ice cream with Armagnac – it was so good I forgot to take a picture of it.IMG_3624

We drank a Château d’Aqueria Tavel 2012.  It is made from seven different grapes, the principal one being Grenache 52%.  The vines are 35 years old.  The grapes are completely destemmed before being put into the maceration vats for 24 to 48 hours. The grape varieties are then blended two by two. After fully “bleeding” the vats (drawing off the juice), fermentation takes place at regulated temperatures (18 to 20°C). The different grape varieties are then all blended together and age for several months before being bottled at the estate. This is a fruity wine with aromas and flavors of red berries and more than a hint of strawberries and raspberries. About $20 in the US.

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Restaurant Mas des Vignes –IMG_3699

This restaurant is on the road that goes up to Mt Ventoux. There are exquisite views across the Rhone Valley to the Cevennes Mountains. The sunsets are spectacular but do not get there too early as the sun can be blinding.

Pork Cheeks

Pork Cheeks

I began with foie gras, which was perfect followed by very tender pork cheeks with mushrooms and polenta. The dessert was 3 scoops of sorbet with very intense flavors of blueberry, basil and melon. This was one of the best meals I had in Provence.IMG_3709

For the wine, I ordered a Gigondas Domaine du Grand Bourjassot “Cuveé Cécile” 2009.  They have 7.5 acres in Gigondas. The wine is made from 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah. This is a full-bodied wine with black fruit aromas and flavors, a hint of blueberries and a touch of lavender. About $35 in the US.

 

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Filed under French Red, Gigondas, Provence, Restaurants Provence, Tavel

Best Buy in Provence for Lunch

Le Pont de l’Orme ( Malaucene) This restaurant is in a lovely old maison de maitre surrounded by a park, with views across the west side of Mount Ventoux. The set price menu is a bargain at 16 euros for an appetizer, main course and the desert–café gourmandise.IMG_3551

We sat on the terrace with a view of the park and Mount Ventoux and ordered the price fixed menu.IMG_3553

The first course was melon and ham and the second course was a choice of sardines or steak. I had the sardines, which were excellent, and the steak looked very good.

Cafe Gourmandis

Cafe Gourmandise

We had a carafe of Rose wine and enjoyed the food the wine and the views. IMG_3550

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In Provence

When we arrived in Provence the weather was very hot, just perfect for enjoying the Rosé wines from this enchanting part of France.  Of course we would drink some white wine and if the weather cooled off, a red wine or two. We had rented a house in Abignon near Carpentras. It is very near to great wine areas such as Gigondas, Beaumes de Venise, Cotes du Rhone, and Vaqueyras, so wine would not be a problem.

Buying Shrimp at the Market in Isle Sur La Sorgue

Buying Shrimp at the Market in Isle Sur La Sorgue

We decided to go out for one meal a day, usually lunch, and have one meal at the house. There is a large organic garden where we can pick our vegetables and there are a number of towns nearby with great farmers markets.

Veal and Langoustine

Veal and Langoustine

 For lunch one afternoon we went to Restaurant L’ Oustalet in Gigondas. This restaurant has a very interesting menu different from the typical ones in the area.  One of the courses I ordered was a carpaccio of veal and langoustine mixed together covered with foam. It was not what I expected but it was very good. They also have a very good wine list from which I ordered a bottle of white wine:IMG_3512

Coudoulet de Beaucastle 2011 Cotes- Du-Rhone made from 30% Bourboulemc, 10% Clairette, 30% Marsanna and 30% Viognier. The vines grow in a 3 acre vineyard between Orange and Avignon. There is manual harvesting, sorting of the grapes, pneumatic pressing, racking and fermentation partly in oak barrels and stainless steel tanks for 8 months. The wines are assembled and bottled without passage at low temperatures. This white wine with a mineral  and savory character, subtle citrus fruit, good acidity, a very pleasing dry finish and long aftertaste.

The Pizza

The Pizza

The house has a pizza oven on the property and one afternoon we decided to make pizza. Michele made the dough and I tended the fire and baked the pizzas.  With the pizza we drank:IMG_3526

Bandol Rosé 2012 AOC Bondol Domaine Tempier made from 50% Mourvédre, 28% Grenache, 20% Cinsault and 2% Carignan. The soil is a mix of clay and limestone; it is tilled mechanically and by hand. The grapes are harvested by hand and carried in small bins of 30 kg and hand selected in the vineyard and cellar. Vinification is by direct pressing or after cold maceration or by saignées between 5 and 10 percent. This is a Rosé with a lot of body and flavor, floral overtones, peaches, a hint of spice and good acidity. The wine worked very well with the pizza with its different toppings.IMG_3491

Les Palliēres “ au petit Bonheur” 2012 Rosé Vin de Table- the winery is located outside the village of Gigondas.  Made from Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Clairette, the blend depending on the vintage. The soil is clay and limestone and the vines are at 250 to 400. The grapes are sourced from younger vines and the juice is obtained from directed pressing.  Fermentation takes place in 650-liter demi-muids. This is a very pleasant wine with nice fruit aromas and flavors and a hint of melon. We enjoyed this wine with the shrimp that we purchased at the market.

Sparibs

Sparibs

We passed a farm stand one day advertising fresh cepes, porcini mushrooms.  They were big and beautiful and Michele bought a few to serve as our appetizer that night for dinner.  She larded the caps with slices of fresh garlic, drizzled  them with olive oil and sprinkled them with fresh thyme from the garden.  After roasting in a hot oven, they were tender and meaty, just the way we have eaten them in Italy.  For a second course, we had rotisserie spareribs that we had gotten at the market in Carpentras.  The wine for the night was a perfect choice: IMG_3529

Gigondas 2005 Clos du Joncuas made from 80% Grenache, and 20% Mourvedre, Cinsault and Syrah. They use organic methods in the vineyards and traditional vinification. The wine has red and black fruit aromas and flavors, hints of blackberry, blueberry and a touch of spice. It was an excellent combination with the roasted porcini mushrooms we had at the house. I do not believe this wine is imported into the US but I really liked it. The wine cost 14 Euros in the coop store in Gigondas.

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Arriving in Provence

Aubignan

It is a long drive from the airport in Nice to the house we rented in Aubignan near Carpentras so we decided to spend night at the Bastide de Moustiers.IMG_3456

It is in a very beautiful setting and we had dinner on the patio over looking the valley and the mountains in the distance. We celebrated our arrival with Champagne Henriot Burt Rosé and looked forward to the next 3 weeks at the house.

The House

The House

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Drinking Mostly Rose, with a Little White and Red in Provence

For a number of years we have shared a vacation house in Provence with another couple.  We could not get along any better and we really enjoy their company. The arrangement works out great, except for one problem.  Nat really likes to drink rose’ wine, and an occasional white, but prefers not to drink red wine.  I on the other hand drink mostly red wine, some white and very little rose’.

The House in ST. Romaine en Viennoise

 This year we rented a house together in St. Romaine en Viennois in the northern part of Provence.  When we first arrived the weather was chilly but it soon warmed up making the chilled rose’ seem appealing.  I decided to give the roses’ from the area a real chance.  We drank at least one bottle of rose’ a day and on most days we drank two.

Lunch on the Terrace

 I always drink wine with food and have often heard that rose’ is a mealtime wine compromise. The thinking is that if someone is having fish and someone is having meat, then the perfect compromise would be rose’.  But as in most compromises, it often turns out that no one is happy with the result!   You should drink rose because you want to drink rose’.  At lunch one day it was a perfect combination with the liver but not with the herring.  As with most things in life, there are no guarantees. 

 The rose’ wines I like the best are those that are salmon-pink in color, are dry, have subtle fruit and no tannin.  They go best with a variety of different foods.

 Here are some of the wines that we have been drinking, mostly rose’, and a few whites and reds:

 Sablet White 2010 Cotes du Rhone Villages Domaine de Verquiere.  The wine is made from 50% Grenache Blanc, 20% Clairette, 15% Bourboulenc and 15% Roussanne. The soil is clay and chalk with rounded red pebbles. The grapes are hand harvested and direct pressing takes place under controlled temperatures. It is a balanced wine with aromas and flavors of green apple and lemon. There is good acidity and a slight hint of almond in the finish.

 La Deveze Viognier 2010-Vin de Pays de la Principaute d’Orange. 100% Viognier –Domaine de Dionysos. The average age of the vineyards in 15 years and the terroir has a sandy surface with a clay sub-soil which helps to prevent drought stress. The wine had aromas and flavors of grapefruit, apricot and a very slight hint of banana, the wine went very well with the langoustine that we had for lunch at the house.

 Rose’ 2010 Luberon Appellation d’Origine Protegee made from 50% Grenache Noir, and 50% Cinsault, Domaine La CavalePaule Dubrule Family. It has the color of a blush wine tending toward a pale pink. It is dry with nice fruit, a touch of apricot and a hint of grapefruit.

 Gigondas Rose’ 2010 Domaine Longue Toque-Grabile Meffre, made mostly from Grenache and Syrah. This wine is produced in very small quantities. It had a light salmon color with flavors and aromas of red fruit with a hint of raspberry and spice.

 Gigondas Rose’  2010  Clos Du Joncus. The wine is made mostly from Grenache with some Cinsault and Syrah.  It has a salmon-pink color, dry with subtle fruit aromas and flavors with a hint of strawberry.

I have really takes a liking to the rose’ wines from Gigondas.

 Rose’ Grand Cassigues Cotes du Rhone 2010 Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Carignan  Domaine  de la President. The average age of the wine is 20 years and the soil is clay and limestone. The residual sugar is at 2 to 3 grams per liter. There is thinning of the vines and a manual harvest early in the morning. Each variety is vinified separately at low temperatures. The Syrah, Cinsault and Carignan were “bled” and the Grenache has 50% skin contact and 50% directly pressed to extract the maximum and to keep the dark blush almost pink color. There are aromas and flavors of strawberry, raspberry, red currants and yellow melon. The wine worked throughout the meal and it even went well with the red peppers and lamb.

 Rose’ Ventoux 2010 Cave Beaumont Du Ventoux. The wine is made from Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault grown at 400 meters on the northern slopes of Mount Ventoux. Because of this northern exposure the wine has good natural acidity and a lower acidity 12.5 % then most roses. It was a little darker in color, very aromatic with fresh fruit aromas and flavors and hits of strawberry. We had the wine at restaurant Le Pont De l’Orme where we dined outside with Mount Ventoux in the background. The price for the wine in the restaurant was 9 Euros-a real bargain.

 Cerise et Reglisse Red 2007 Cotes Du Ventoux Clos Des Patris– made mostly from Syrah, Grenache and Carignan with a little Cinsault, Mourvedre and Counoise. These grapes come from their oldest vineyards.  Each grape variety plays its part in the makeup of the wine: Grenache for roundness and suppleness, Syrah for color and aroma, Cinsault for aroma and balance and Mourvedre for body and complexity. Natural fermentation takes place in little stainless steel tanks. Each grape variety is fermented separately and maceration is between 2 to 3 weeks. The pigeate, the pressing down of the cap, is done by hand. There is a soft pressing in a press that is operated by hand and the wine is filtered through the skins. This is an organic winery. This is a dry wine with aromas and flavors of blackberry, licorice and spice with a pleasing finish and aftertaste.  It went very well with the sheeps’ milk cheese that we had for dinner.

 Sablet Red 2007 Cotes du Rhone Villages Domaine de Verquiere, made from 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre and 5% Cinsault. The soil is chalk and pebbles. The grapes are handpicked and fermented at controlled temperatures. Traditional fermentation takes place on the skins between 10 to 12 days. The wine is aged in large oak casks between 6 to eight months. The wine has aromas and flavors of ripe red fruit with more than a hint of raspberry and a little touch of spice. It went very well with the roast chicken we had with dinner at the house.

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