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Friday 21 November 2014

Not Just For Summer Picnics - Provence Rosé

Provence wine dinner at Hakkasan
Provence rosé is a wine defined by its production method - much like sherry, port or Madeira.
It is also, like Champagne, an occasion wine - suited to summer picnics and lazy Sunday afternoons in the garden.
If it is not as unfashionable as sherry and Madeira, nor does it quite command the price premiums of Champagne, let alone of pink fizz.
And yet there is no problem selling it; only 17% is exported and Britain is the fourth-placed export market (after the US, Canada and Belgium, it seems).
But the UK is on a rosé roll - with sales up 70% year-on year, it seems we are finding more occasions to drink pink.
To demonstrate that roses have a purpose outside of summer picnics, the CIVP organised a Provence rosé tasting dinner. With Chinese food. Indoors. In winter.
Six wines were paired to a buffet of dim sum, fish, chicken, beef and vegetable dishes.
If there was a common stylistic genus - fresh, elegant pinks - there were also nuanced differences between all the individual wines that comes partly from wine-making and partly from terroir.
Provence has three AOC regions, 15 permitted grape varieties and requires all wines to be a blend of at least two from the five major varieties.
Elevation is also a factor - low-lying grapes near the coast are picked in late August, whilst higher-altitude grapes do not come in for another two months.
As we sampled the wines over dinner, my tasting notes are correspondingly brief - all are 2013 vintage; a good year generally.
Domaine de Grand Cros, Cotes de Provence (Noel Young, £11.99) Grenache, Cinsault, Semillon and Rolle; pleasant all-rounder
Mirabeau, Cotes de Provence (Waitrose, £8.99) Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault; more maceration gives some fruity bubblegum aromas - needs food to come into its own, but works well
L'Oratoir de St Andrieu, Coteaux Varois de Provence (Red Squirrel Wine £10.99) Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Rolle, CS; crisp precise, linear and mineral

Secret de Leoube, Cotes de Provence (Daylesford Organic, £20) Grenache, Cinsault, CS; very full bodied and textured - organic, old vines, with some creaminess from malolactic fermentation

Domaine Houchart, Cotes de Provence St Victoire (The Wine Society, £8.50) Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Mourvedre; smokey, mineral, precise and powerful with some lees aging

Chateau Vignelaure, Coteaux d' Aix en Provence (James Nicholson, £14.95) Grenache, Syrah, CS; limpid & precise; long, with good underpinnings, some leesiness and the merest hint of oak

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