Friday, September 24, 2010

Drinking The Koolaid

The aforementioned Provence journeys included many, many wines of note. The challenge is in narrowing down the accolades to only a few. And even more challenging, finding the wines in the U.S. market. Most major cities offer up the famous producers like Domaine Ott, Chateau D'Esclans and Domaine Tempier. But like most of France's wine regions, Provence harbors hundreds of winemakers whose juice never leaves the country.

Here are a few standouts among several intense days of tasting:

Chateau des Annibals - Owner and winemaker Nathalie Coquelle

Across the board, Nathalie's organic wines are multi-layered, sophisticated wines. Her export volume is very small but if you are in the area be sure to visit. She's outside Brignole at a very welcoming property.

Chateau Margui Especially search out the Syrah/Cabernet blend. It is an intense black fruit, coffee bean, truffle-nosed red. And there are several U.S. importers. This is another organic producer

Chateau Vignelaure Best known for their notable red blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Grenache.

Chateau Ferry Lacombe Their Cascai series from their oldest vines is especially good.

Chateau Sainte Marguerite and also Chateau Hermitage Saint-Martin from famille Fayard father and son team, certified organic

Chateau Les Valentines The white, 50% Ugni Blanc, 30% Vermentino and 20% Clairette is both crisp and lush at the same time.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Taking Pink Seriously

If you thought pink wine meant wimpy stuff think again. If it's coming from Provence, they are taking their craft very seriously. A recent whirlwind visit sent a band of wine nerds crisscrossing the region, swirling, sniffing and usually spitting. Sure, Provence wines evoke sun and idyllic wanderings. But while you are lounging in St. Tropez at Cafe de Paris (okay maybe some of that went on too) the expert vignerons are toiling away.

At the Centre du Rose there is a laboratory devoted to analyzing, defining and cataloging all things pink. Charts, graphs, and gradient color analyses are their raison d'etre. They make small test batches of wines there, using grapes from various sites, and constantly evaluate quality, style, and ways to improve.

According to Francois Millo, Director of the CIVP, only about 15% of Provence AOC wine makes it to the U.S. That's something they are working hard to change. And while Monsieur Millo is focusing on the pink, don't discount the reds and whites. Can you find them at your local wine shop? Probably not. So it's up to the U.S. consumer to ask for them.

The trip wasn't all business, of course. After all, it's Provence in September. Who wouldn't be full of Joie de Vivre?