Showing posts with label Provence. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Provence. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Pink In Provence: L'Excellence Des Muraires

 

Most of the wine made in France's Provence region is pink.  It's what they do - they make wonderfully dry and crisp rosé wines.  I was recently supplied with several examples of Provencal pinkies, and this is one of them.

The Bernard Magrez L'Excellence des Muraires 2019 is a great example of what you get when you seek out a Côtes de Provence rosé wine.  Magrez is mainly known for his four grand cru châteaux in Bordeaux, but this pink wine comes from his estate in the south of France, Chateau Des Muraires.

Made from three grapes - 46% Grenache, 41% Rolle (Vermentino) and 13% Syrah - the wine was fermented in concrete and aged in huge oak barrels, on the lees.  Alcohol sits at 14.5% abv  - a little higher than a typical Provence rosé - and it retails for about $35.

This wine shows a very light color in the glass, sort of an onion skin shade.  The nose offers minerality first, a flinty aroma with strawberry and cherry notes more subdued.  The sip is beautiful, with minerals again leading the way and a fresh acidity that is softened by the creaminess of the lees.


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Mixing Fruits And Wine

Monday, June 20, 2016

A French Twist On Rosé Wine

Moncigale is one of France's largest wine producers. They are in the south of France and bottle wines primarily from Provence and Corsica. They have a bottling for the American market called Fruits and Wine, which delivers exactly what is advertised.

A mix of wine and fruit juice isn't really a new idea. Think "Bartles & Jaymes Wine Coolers" from the 1980s. Their product was referred to, though, as a "cooler" because it was actually a malt drink

This one, - Fruits and Wine, by Moncigale - is actual wine mixed with fruit juices and a little carbonation thrown in. It's not a bad little beverage, for what it is.

I don’t often mix things with wine, but that’s because I want to experience what the wine has to offer. If it doesn’t offer much, mix. A recent report showed that 66% of consumers are "eager to mix wine with fruit/juices." And Fruits and Wine is already a popular item at poolside parties in Provence, I’m told, so maybe the younger wave of consumers can be responsible for the return of wine coolers, as well as the onset of the $17 hamburger.

Fruits and Wine is billed as a guilt free product with less sugar than a classic cola and less alcohol than the classic wine - it hits only 7% abv. It employs real fruit juice and no fruit syrup, according to the company. They seem to be targeting younger women I with this product, and possibly trying to act as a transition drink to get cider and craft beer drinkers to start exploring wine.  

Their website offers some tantalizing fun-in-the-sun shots and hits the notion that this is a "no fuss" alternative to actually pouring one thing into another. Homemade sangria, of course, is a lot more trouble than simply opening this bottle, so maybe they're on to something.  The theme of freeing one's self, escaping confinement, recurs on the web page as well. It fits right into younger wine drinkers’ "no rules" attitude.

I tried their Rosé and Grapefruit version, and I must say it's very tasty. It has a pretty and deep pink/orange hue and a nose that comes on like sweet candy. Its aroma reminds me rather of a Big Red soda, if you remember those. The flavors are similar to that soda as well, with a splash of grapefruit thrown in for a slight tanginess. The acidity is nice, falling just short of crisp. Although it's not what I want when I want wine, I can easily see this being a delightful sip on the back porch during a long, hot summer.



Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Time To Rock Some Pink Wine, Bro!

"It all started with a whisper… but now it’s time to rock!" That is the statement printed on the label of this wine, this Côtes de Provence wine. I suppose with the hipsters all draining every bottle of Provence rosé they can get their hands on, the battle for their limited attention has to start somewhere. Why not in italicized lettering on the label?

Pink is all the rage, now that the feminine stigma has been ripped from rosé by the brosé movement. I can hardly believe I just tapped out those words. Every picture I see on Eater of a ridiculously large group of men all lifting their glasses of Provence like so many Miller Lites makes me wonder. Where were you fellas last year?

Some of us guys have been drinking pink wine all along, pinkies tucked into our hands in the masculine fashion - or not. What does it matter? Pink pants may be feminine - except on a Palm Springs golf course - but pink wine is for everyone, and it always has been. "Let's rock some pink, bro!"

This Chateau D'Esclans Rock Angel Provence Rosé is light in color, but fairly hefty - for Provence - at 14% abv. The grapes are primarily Grenache, with some Rolle - you may know it as Vermentino - blended into the mix. Part of the wine is vinified in 600-liter barrels, the other portion in stainless steel tanks.

Côtes de Provence rosé is a real treat. This one acts exactly the way a pink wine should, with strawberries, citrus and a slightly herbal touch on the nose. The palate brings the strawberries in first, and a nice little cucumber element pokes through. An herbal grassy texture is no surprise in this bone-dry wine with an easy acidity that refreshes but does not sting. The lengthy finish has the herbs hanging around quite a while.


Monday, June 8, 2015

Summer Wine: Côté Mas Aurore Rosé

Smelling this French pink wine makes me think of the Lee Hazelwood song which he performed with Nancy Sinatra, "Strawberries, cherries and an angel's kiss in spring. My summer wine is really made from all these things."

I think it is an overplayed record, the song that goes "rosé is just for summer." I have them all year long. I think leftover turkey sandwiches the day after Thanksgiving is actually the perfect opportunity for rosé. But the summer connection - even for me - is sometimes impossible to ignore. This summer wine - the Côté Mas Aurore Rosé - certainly has the strawberries and the cherries. Anything more exotic in the flavor profile, I'll leave that for the poets.

Fruit aromas are not shy in this pinkie. The wine smells like the strawberries and cherries do at a farmers' market when you put your face right down in them and inhale. The farmers really hate that, by the way. They say it drives off their customers. Ha. No more than shouting and calling security on someone who is sticking his face down in the fruit and inhaling. Or so I hear.

The point is, the wine smells like a summer day. It tastes like that, too. Juicy fruit flavors straddle a beautiful acidity and ride it into the finish. This sort of freshness is common in wines from the south of France, especially in Languedoc.

Though the Paul Mas brand is overseen by vintner Jean-Claude Mas, he got it from Paul Mas, who got it from Auguste Mas. The land has been in the family forever, or so it would seem when looking at the 1,000-year-old castle on the premises.

The grapes involved in this bottle of pink sunshine are 50% Grenache, 30% Cinsault and 20% Syrah. The destemmed grapes were vinified separately using only the free-run juice. Stainless steel fermentation occurred over three weeks, and aging took place in cement vats, the wine staying in contact with the spent yeast cells for added depth and fullness. Those lees were stirred regularly. Alcohol sits at a comfortable 13% abv and it retails for $13.


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Friday, September 13, 2013

The Wines Of Jean-Luc Colombo

Jean-Luc Colombo
French winemaker Jean-Luc Colombo was in Los Angeles recently for a series of tastings and dinners to promote his wines.  The walk-around tasting at Monsieur Marcel in Beverly Hills was staged by Ian Blackburn's Learn About Wine education group.  Blackburn greeted me with the news that Colombo was in rare form.  “He won’t stop talking about non-irrigated farming.  He says irrigation destroys terroir.”  Well, he’s had a lifetime to think about it.

Colombo became interested in wine at an early age.  Back in Marseilles, he started a quest to make wine which was as good as his mother’s cooking.  Colombo is a devotee of the Syrah grape, so he was quite naturally drawn to the northern Rhone Valley.  The first vineyards he bought for himself were on a granite hillside overlooking the tiny village of Cornas.  They call it the birthplace of Syrah - in fact, Syrah is the only grape planted there.  That’s alright with Colombo.

Ian Blackburn
The winemaker shook things up a bit in Cornas with his fruit-forward tendencies, which flew in the face of traditional ways.  Colombo thought wine shouldn’t be locked away for years in a barrel before being released and enjoyed.  He is described on the winery website as having deep “respect for the unique qualities of each and every terroir, and uncompromising support of a sensible alliance between traditional approaches to vineyard management and a modern understanding of the life cycle of the vine.”  He also departs from tradition by labeling his wines varietally - Syrah, Viognier, etc.

Colombo later acquired vineyards in the Southern Rhône Valley and Languedoc regions.  He farms his vineyards organically and sees his grapes not as kings of the hillside, but residents of it.  His wines are imported by Palm Bay International.  The prices listed here are retail, found online, and they may not be exact.  He is what I tasted:

WHITE

La Belle de Mai Saint-Peray 2011, $42
Saint-Peray is in the Northern Rhône, the mirror image of Cornas.  All the wines of Saint-Peray are white.  La Belle de Mai is 80% Roussanne and 20% Marsanne taken from 80-year-old vines on steep limestone and granite slopes.  Fermentation and malolactic takes place in mostly neutral barrels, while aging on the lees last ten months with weekly stirring.  This method of leaving the wine in contact with the yeast during aging brings out some amazing aromas of nuts, flowers and lemons.  This wine is very full-bodied, creamy and buttery.  Colombo says he is “very proud of this wine.”

Les Abeilles de Colombo 2012, $12
This white from the Côtes du Rhône is 80% Clairette and 20% Roussanne.  Stainless steel fermentation, then aged on the lees - 15% in barrels and 85% in tanks.  Apple, floral, mineral.  Very fresh.

La Redonne 2011
Another Côtes du Rhône blanc, the grapes are 70% Viognier and 30% Roussanne.  Fermented in steel tanks, 20% is aged on the lees in barrels with the remainder in steel.  Minerals, oak, floral, honey.

La Violette Viognier 2011, $14
This is 100% Viognier from the Languedoc region in southern France.  Fermentation takes place in steel tanks (80%) and barrels (20%).  The wine ages for six months - on the lees, of course - with only 70% in tanks and the rest in barrels.  Minerals, peaches, almonds.

ROSÉ

Cape Bleue Rosé 2012, $12
This pink wine is made from 67% Syrah and 33% Mourvèdre grapes from Provence.  The traditional saignée method of extraction - bleeding the juice from the grape skins - is followed by two or three weeks fermentation in steel tanks.  Minerals and strawberry, nice savory notes.

RED

La Louvée Syrah Cornas 2010, $50
This single-vineyard wine is made from 70-year-old vines growing in granite soils.  It is fermented in stainless steel tanks with skin contact of one month, then aged 22 months in oak -  15% of which is new.  Extremely floral blueberry nose, mineral-driven blueberry palate.  Oak spice stays around on the finish.

Les Ruchets Cornas 2010 Syrah, $60
These grapes are from 90-year-old vines in a single vineyard on ancient Roman terraces.
Stainless steel fermentation precedes aging of 22 months in oak, a third of it new.  Minerals, delightful dark fruit, oak spice.

Terres Brulees Cornas 2010 Syrah, $50
Fermented in steel, with 21 months in oak - 15% new, 85% neutral.  Burnt caramel nose, blueberry with a caramel edge on the palate.  Extremely rich and completely delightful.

Les Bartavelles Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2011,
45% Syrah, 35% Grenache and 20% Mourvèdre, the grapes are grown in the CDP's galet soil.  Stainless steel fermentation, then 18 months in neutral oak.  Minerals, berries, spice.  Lovely, perfect use of oak..

La Violette Syrah 2011, $15
100% Syrah from Languedoc.  Fermentation in tanks is backed up with a year of aging, ten percent in oak and the remainder in steel and concrete tanks.  Floral nose, mineral palate.  Black and blue berries, herbs on finish.



Tuesday, March 20, 2012

ANGELES WINE AGENCY: LOS ANGELES SPRING TRADE TASTING 2012


Angeles Wine Agency Spring Tasting Event, Los Angeles

Angeles Wine Agency is a wine distributor based in Southern California.  They specialize in importing wines from the Rhone Valley,  Burgundy, Alsace, Italy, Spain, Argentina and Australia.  They also represent wines "by interesting Artisan producers from Napa Valley, Sonoma, Anderson Valley, Monterey, Paso Robles and Santa Barbara," according to their website.

AWA put on a trade tasting in West Hollywood at Ago Restaurant on March 19, 2012, which I was invited to attend.  I found a great mix of new and old world styles which allowed guests to taste through the spectrum of the wine world.  It was a pretty great way for a wine lover to spend a Monday afternoon.  A lot of wine lovers thought so, as the jammed the patio area at Ago.

The event got off to a great start with a table devoted to rosé wines from Provence.  A half dozen bottles - any of which would be welcome on the deck this summer - were highlighted by the dry and floral Château Routas Coteaux Varois Rosé 2011 and the earthy Domaine de la Fouquette Côtes de Provence Rosé 2011.  Both are from Jeff Welburn Selections.

Welburn's main table also featured the lovely, dark, herbal Domaine Fabrice Gasnier Chinon Les Graves 2010. 

The table featuring AWA's California brands had several standouts.  The Anglim Pinot Noir Fiddlestix Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills 2009 is fruity and very smooth with a nice, tart finish.  Anglim's Grenache Vista Creek Paso Robles 2008 is a monster, showing big cherry flavor, strong tannins and great acidity.  The Palazzo Cabernet Franc 2009 has a nice display of fruit and herbs.  The Sunstone Merlot Lot 118 Santa Barbara County 2009 is smoky, dark and earthy.  I really enjoyed the ripe, red and spicy Peter Franus Zinfandel Napa Valley 2009. 

Montecastelli Selections had a table full of Italian wines which remained so crowded throughout the event I could only elbow in once for a taste of the Monteflor Velio Pinot Grigio 2010.  The Friuli wine shows some really nice mineral aromas and a nice acidity.  It's the sort of Pinot Grigio that makes me want to drink more Pinot Grigio.

The Wines of France table drew a crowd for their Châteauneuf-du-Pape offerings.  The Cuvée du Vatican "Reserve Sixtine" Rouge is tall, dark and spicy, while the Domaine De La Charbonniere "Hautes Brusquieres" digs deep for some extreme earthiness.  The Mas De Boislauzon Tintot is 100% Mourvédre, dark and moody.

placardOle Spanish Selections poured some noteworthy wines.  The Bodegas Hermanos del Villar Oro de Castilla Verdejo brings grapefruit acidity from Rueda.  Three rugby fans founded Bodegas Rugvino - their Big Bang de Expoto Rioja 2008 is a bright and lively cherry flavor framed by wonderful acidity.  Bodegas La Cartuja Priorat 2010 is bold, tannic and toothy.

The Grapes of Spain table had a couple of great Ribera del Duero wines.  The Bodegas Arrocal 2009 was brimming with dusty roses and cherries with a nice tannic structure.  The Finca Torremilanos Montecastrillo Red 2009 smells and tastes of raspberries.  Bodegas y Vinedos Maurodos San Ramon Prima 2006 out of Toro brings an enormous showing of smoky blackberry.  The campfire sensation persists into the finish. 

The Argentine wines of Maipe presented by Kysela Selections really impressed me.  Their '10 Malbec sees four months in oak and has a fresh fruitiness that's almost grapey in its purity.  The '09 Reserve Malbec gets 12 months in barrels and delivers more spiciness as a result.  The '11 Torrontes sports a nose that leaps right out of the glass. Its acidity comes from the high, cool-climate vineyards of Saltas.  The Maipe 2010 Bonarda shows an intriguing, dark minerality and almost bracing acidity.

Last, but - as the cliche goes - certainly not least, were the Bordeaux selections.  I tried the Chateau de France Pessac Leognan 2009 and found a nice tannic grip and healthy acidity.  Château Laurensanne Côtes de Bourg 2009 is full of flinty, old world earth.  Château du Perier Medoc Cru Bourgeois is loaded with minerality and Marquis de Bellefont Bordeaux St. Emilion Grand Cru 2008 shows a fragrant bouquet.

Monday, August 22, 2011

DOMAINE LE GALANTIN BANDOL ROSE 2010


Domaine Le Galantin Bandol Rose

A sunny day, some great company, a Bandol rosé and a grilled cheese sandwich.  Sure, I'd like more from life.  That makes me feel so greedy, though.  As long as those four items are taken care of, I'd say it's at least a pretty good lunch.

We lunched at Greenblatt's Deli on Sunset Boulevard - my wife, the sun streaming through the windows and a grilled cheese sandwich with a tomato slice before me.  The Bandol rosé was provided by Domaine Le Galantin, a $9 glass at the deli.

Bandol is a small portion of Provence right on the Mediterranean coast, east of Marseille.  Vins de Provence reports that U.S. retail sales of imported rosé wines grew by 22% in 2010, while exports of rosé and red wines from Provence to the U.S. jumped 132%.  America seems to be getting on the dry rosé bandwagon.

The grapes for this rosé - 50% Cinsault, 25% Mourvedre and 25% Grenache - are harvested in the Domaine's organic vineyards, then cooled to 50 degrees for two days before going into stainless steel tanks for fermentation.  10% of the juice is saignee, in which the juice is bled off from the skins after some contact.  The remainder is made as in white wine production, with minimal skin contact.

Le Galantin's rose is a very pale salmon color with a nose of melon and minerals and flavors of strawberry fruit with a strong mineral overlay.  Dry as a bone, this pink wine has a refreshing acidity, perfect on a warm, sunny day with great company and a grilled cheese.  I can heartily recommend the experience.



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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Vallons des Glauges Rosé 2008


Salads can be one of the most boring food items on a restaurant menu.  But sometimes you find a place that makes them right.  Denise and I favor salads, but even as a fan of the leafy dish, sometimes they can be too, well, leafy.

We have found a place that does salads right.  Salades de Provence  makes salads that have eggplant and zucchini in them.  Their salads have haricots verts in them.  I know that's only French for green beans, but don't they taste better when they call them that?  Bacon's in there, Saint Marcelin cheese, smoked salmon and fresh fried potatoes!  Fresh fried potatoes!  How can you go wrong with a salad which has fresh fried potatoes in it?

They also do quiche, but there's no need to make a list of what's in them.  It's hard to screw up a quiche.  They even have a "quiche of the day."

They also have plenty of French wine which all seems to go great with their food.  Most of the offerings are not special, high-dollar wines, but everyday offerings of, mainly, Provence.

I had a quiche, with a side salad, and a wine that seemed to have been made for the occasion.  Vallons des Glauges rosé went hand in hand with my dinner, as all the other wines I've had here have gone with those light dinners.

The rosé had a tight nose - it was quite chilled - but a light fruitiness came through, peaches, or some such sweetness.  The taste, though, was dry and flavorful.  It was great with my quiche.    

Variety: Grenache, Syrah, Counoise 
Appellation: France > Provence > Coteaux d’Aix en Provence
Vintage: 2008 
Acquisition disclaimer: Bought, by the glass, by the author