You may or may not have read my article about Provence Rosé in the latest newsletter. Well, this is the full, ‘un-cut,’ version of that article. I hope you enjoy it in all its glory. Side note: all of these wines can be found at K&L.
It’s that time of year again when flowers bloom, the sun shines and glasses are filled with pink wines ranging in hue from pale pink to rose petal to salmon. If there is one place that’s synonymous with rosé, it’s Provence. These days, the majority of all wine production in Provence is rosé. Provence has been making pale colored wines ever since the Ancient Greeks founded Marseille in roughly 600 BC, making Provence the oldest wine-making region in France. They made light colored wines because the ancient winemaking techniques used little to no maceration, simply pressing the grapes for juice without skin contact and continuing with fermentation. I’ve recently had the pleasure of tasting some of our greatest Provence wine in the store, and thought I would take you all on a little Tour de Provence.
Provence is a breathtakingly beautiful region, covered with Garrigues lined with wild lavender, rosemary, sage, and thyme. Provence vignerons claim this is part of the terroir of Provence, imparting these herbaceous notes on their classic Provençal rosés, which I’ve certaintly found to be true. First up, Commanderie de la Bargemone, which was founded by the Knights Templar in the 13th century. The property sits in the western region of Provence, now known as Coteaux d’Aix, an appellation renowned for its limestone soils. Commanderie is in the process of converting their vineyards to be organic and biodynamic. The grapes going into this wine are 35% Grenache, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, finishing with equal parts Syrah and Cinsault. The 2013 Commanderie de la Bargemone Coteaux d'Aix en Provence Rosé ($15.99) offers notes of tart strawberry seed, melon rind, fresh fig and an herbaceous, almost bay leaf finish. A rosé that pairs nicely with lighter cuisine such as roasted chicken and rice.
Our next property, Domaine de la Colombe is perched high in the mountainous region of Coteaux Varois. Here the climate is a more continental than the rest of Provence, with the surrounding mountains separating the region from maritime influences. Their vineyards lie between 900 and 1300 feet in elevation lined with clay-limestone soils. Don’t let its delicate pale pink color fool you, the 2013 Domaine Colombe Coteaux Varois en Provence Rosé ($12.99) has plenty of aroma and flavor. With a floral nose, creamy, weighty mid-palate of strawberries, cranberry and cherries, the finish is crisp, dry and mineral driven, it’s a perfect rosé for summer sipping.
Sitting atop a hill of the Maures mountains is one of our favorites here at K&L. It is perhaps the most unconventional and yet most historic rosé producer, Clos Cibonne. This producer has been around since the 17th century, focusing on making serious rosé meant to age. They primarily use the rare, stubborn local variety, Tibouren, along with some Grenache and Syrah. Clos Cibonne allows its rosés to age for an additional year under a veil of surface yeast called flor, just the way sherry is made, giving its wines a distinct bitter almond characteristic. The vineyards are located between Marseille and Nice, overlooking the Toulon Harbor, just 800 meters from the Mediterranean Sea where, although not certified, they farm organically. Perhaps Clos Cibonne’s least wacky wine, which does not see an additional year in the barrel, the 2013 Cibonne Tentations Côtes de Provence Rosé ($17.99) which provides whiffs of lemon balm and pear with a palate showing the terroir of Provence with lavender, sage, vanilla and citrus, this wine is meant to drink now! Made with 90% Tibouren and 10% Grenache the 2012 Clos Cibonne Tibouren “Tradition” Côtes de Provence Rosé ($23.99) is aged for 12-18 months in hundred-year-old casks leaving a lovely layer of flor providing that nutty characteristic of hazelnut, lemon oil and cranberry.
Similarly, the 2012 Clos Cibonne Tibouren "Cuvée Speciale des Vignettes" Côtes de Provence Rosé ($29.99) was also aged in those hundred-year-old foudre on lees and under a veil of flor, but this Cuvee is made with Tibouren from 60+ year old vines. The aging process shows with a tinged orange-salmon color and notes of dried fruits and nuts, perfect for a bouillabaisse.
Moving to the appellation of Bandol, just east of Marseille, is one of the longest-established appellations in France. While, today, vacation houses outnumber the vineyards, you can find some of the greatest roses of Provence in Bandol. The variety Mourvedre dominates these rosés, creating a unique peppery rosé.
Although the vineyards of Domaine Dupuy have been in the family for over a century, they’ve only been an established winery since 2006. They selected Gérald Damidot as their viticulturist and oenologist, who, rumor has it, personally oversees every part of the production process, from farming to winemaking to even individually labeling and packaging the wines. Damidot is young and innovative, farms sustainably and has control over every step of the process; maybe this is why Domine Dupuy has been able to produce magnificent Provençal rosés. The 2013 Dupuy de Lôme Bandol Rosé ($21.99) embodies the classic Bandol rose perfectly, with a nose of citrus fruits and sweet flowers a luscious texture full of white tea, white pepper and a lingering, mineral finish.
I hope this gave you a little taste of Provence’s finest rosés and inspired you to take your own little Tour de France.