Provence: land of lavender and rosé, located in the south of France next to the Italian Alps and beside the Mediterranean.
“The Luberon Mountains rise up immediately behind the house to a high point of nearly 3,500 feet and run in deep folds for about forty miles from west to east. cedars and pines and scrub oak keep them perpetually green and provide cover for boar, rabbit, and game birds. Wild flowers, thyme, lavender, and mushrooms grow between the rocks and under the trees, and from the summit on a clear day the view is of the Basses-Alpes on one side and the Mediterranean on the other,” writes Peter Mayle in A Year in Provence (page 5).
While most famous for rosé, the region also offers red wines– after all, what is rosé made out of but red grapes like Grenache and Mourvedre?
As the chart below shows, however, of the 176 million bottles produced each year, 89% of the region’s production is rosé; only 7% is red and the remaining 4% is white. With only 26% of the production exported, it’s not surprising that most consumers have enjoyed rosé from Provence, but not the red or white wines of the region. Fortunately, 43% of those exports make it to the United States. Unfortunately, it is still challenging to find red or white wines from Provence.
The previous time we focused on Provence with the French Winophiles group of online wine writers, back in February 2019, we were encouraged to write about a red wine or another unusual wine from the region. Many of us also read a copy of A Year In Provence which was sent to us. We wrote about two wines: from Wine House LA, I purchased a bottle of biodynamic “rouge” 2013 Chateau Guilheim Tournier “Cuvee la Malissonne”, plus I received a sample of an exuberant and expressive kosher 2017 Roubine La Vie en Rose “Cru Classe” Côtes de Provence.
Here’s what we had to say with quotes from the website using Google translate:
2013 Chateau Guilheim Tournier “Cuvee la Malissonne” AOC Bandol
purchased at Wine House LA for $40
95% Mourvèdre, 5% Grenache
biodynamic practices, certified organic
According to the Château Guilhem Tournier website, “The estate is mainly made up of parcels entrusted by Henri and Geneviève Tournier to their son Guilhem.” At 27, in 2004, Guilhem took over his grandfather’s lands and in 2005, released his first vintage. The vineyard soils deep clays with a south south west aspect which benefit from cooling sea winds at the end of a hot day:
“Mourvèdre must see the sea.”
His farming methods avoid chemical treatment and are certified organic but not yet biodynamic: “The cultivation of the vine is carried out by a natural work of the soils, natural amendments (compost, manures) and cryptogamic treatments in organic culture, for a sustainable agriculture and for an authentic production with a better expression of the soil. Operations related to the vineyard as well as to the cellar are done with a respect of the lunar calendar as far as possible, and tend towards a biodynamic agriculture that wants to develop over time.” Grapes were manually harvested, then experienced “a long vatting and gentle oxygenation of the juices, gentle extraction of color and tannins, indigenous yeasts, pumping over and pigeages to refine the tannins and make the wine silky and expressive, digestible and greedy.”
Color: Dense, garnet, mauve ring
Nose: Eucalyptus and menthol, chaparral, sage; it smells like our local sage brushed covered hillsides, on a warm day in spring, much as we imagine it might smell there in Provence.
Palate: Sprightly acidity, it dances across the palate, the alcohol is apparent in the back of the palate.
Pairing: Wonderful with the roasted olives. Goes well with the quiche. Great with the tritip and even the salad! I’d really like to have this wine with duck or with lamb. I’d just really like to have this wine again!
But with the complications of COVID, I’m not getting to Winehouse LA, I couldn’t find any red wines from Provence in Ventura where I live, and I didn’t get a chance to order any.
So what did we do?
And if you pivot in Provence, you’ll be enjoying a glass of what else but rosé!
And for something completely different, we paired the rosé with barbacoa tacos!
Barbacoa is typically a chuck roast slowly roasted in spices and adobo chiles often with bell pepper and onion which I don’t like so Sue found an alternative recipe which I loved and what a fantastic pairing! We also paired the rosé with fish tacos.
ALSO: Stay tuned for barbacoa and fish tacos for Margarita Day Monday Feb 22 with reviews of Adelita Tequila and recipes for making your own margaritas!
Maison De Grand Esprit 2017 L’etre Magique Cotes de Provence Rosé
purchased on sale at Vons
Varietals: 55% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, 15% Syrah
In French “L’être Magique” means ‘The Magic Being’ and references unicorns found in traditional medieval tapestries. About 75% of the wine from Provence comes from the area where this wine is from.
Very nice, elegant bottle, very unique shape.
Color: Very pale salmon/pink, very very pale, very clear and sparkling in the glass catching the light nicely
Nose: Stone, minerals, damp granite, a bit of carnation, strawberry, raspberry, honey crisp apple, all of it very subtle.
Palate: Clean bright acidic, watermelon, strawberry, cherry, very dry, should be a very food friendly wine due to the brightness of the wine. Nice citrus finish, eureka lemon.
Pairing: Loves the allspice in the barbacoa, both are such a hit together, like yin and yang. The spice in the barbacoa brings out so many different flavors in the wine, while the wine tames the heat nicely. We did not find it to be as fantastic with the fish taco. There wasn’t any contrast. The flavors were just bland together. Lifted orange notes with the barbacoa.
So so good! Barbacoa and rosé from Provence will be a new summer favorite!
In the meantime, keep an eye out for the red wines of Provence. I’ve only been fortunate to taste that one that I wrote about in February 2019. I wish there were more of them in the US!
Learn more about the red wines of Provence from:
- Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla presents Provençal Pork Stew + Clos Cibonne Cuvee Speciale Rouge 2019.
- Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm shares Beef Daube Provencal with a Bandol Rouge.
- Payal at Keep the Peas serves A Bandol Red and Lamb Biryani.
- Jane of Always Ravenous showcases Provencal Braised Beef with Bandol Rouge.
- Lynn over at Savor the Harvest offers Winning Red Wines from Provence with Lamb Meatballs: Domaine Hauvette and Clos Cibonne.
- Susannah from Avviranre tells us how Beef Stew and A Glass of Bandol Rouge Warms the Heart.
- Jeff of Food Wine Click! shares Provençal Memories and Mas de Gourgonnier Rouge.
- Gwendolyn from Wine Predator posts The Magique of Provence.
- Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles writes Bandol Rouge – An Elegant and Wild Provençe Red Wine from Château Ste. Anne.
You’re also invited to join our twitter chat on Saturday, February 20 from 8-9am Pacific by following the hashtag #Winophiles. Here’s what we will be discussing and when:
- 8:00 am PT
- 1/ Welcome to #Winophiles chat for February 2021 on the Red Wines of Provence! Where are you tweeting from? Introduce yourself, share a link to your blog @winesofprovence
- 8:05 am PT
- 2/ Today the #Winophiles are talking about Red Wines of Provence. Have you ever visited the region? Tell us what you thought. Share a picture if you have one! @winesofprovence
- 8:10 am PT
- 3/ Have you had Provence red wines before? What surprised you about the wine(s) you poured? #Winophiles @winesofprovence
- 8:15 am PT
- 4/ Where in the Provence region was your wine produced? Share a link to your blog if you wrote on the topic today. #Winophiles @winesofprovence
- 8:20 am PT
- 5/ Provence reds are made with local grapes varieties as well as other French grapes. Which grapes went into your wine? #Winophiles @winesofprovence
- 8:25 am PT
- 6/ Tell us something interesting about the producer(s) of your wine pick. Any interesting facts? #Winophiles @winesofprovence
- 8:30 am PT
- 7/ Provence reds are made for food! What did you pair your wine with and why? Show us a pic or share a link #Winophiles @winesofprovence
- 8:35 am PT
- 8/ Thoughts on your pairing? How did the flavors in the food and wine complement each other? Would you do it again? #Winophiles @winesofprovence
- 8:40 am PT
- 9/ Provence reds often offer tremendous QPR… did you think your wine pick did? #Winophiles @winesofprovence
- 8:45 am PT
- 10/ Are you a fan? Will you be looking for Provence reds again? From the same winery or different? #Winophiles @winesofprovence
- 8:50 am PT
- 11/ Any parting thoughts or new questions for the group? #Winophiles @winesofprovence
- 8:55 am PT
- 12/ Thanks for joining the French #Winophiles today for this Twitter chat on Red Wines of Provence! Do join us in March for French Grapes Around the World with @Culinary_Cam #Winophiles @winesofprovence
- 9:00 am PT
- Thanks again and remember to join us on 19 March for French Grapes Around the World with @Culinary_Cam. See you then! #Winophiles @winesofprovence
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It’s not surprising such a low amount of Provence red is exported given the rage for their rosé. (I really should explore it- the reds- more.) On the rosé, seeing many varying bottle shapes and textures, I’m not so into them, how about you? Certainly makes them stand out.
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I think the varied bottles are fun and eye catching! I often want to save them. I do wonder how much they add to the price.
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So great to see this post as I always wanted to go to Provence and you took me there to taste wordly wines is a treat with you remember when we wanted to bring int’l wine tasting to home. Love Annie Day
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Miss tasting with you Annie! Yes, the blog has come a long way from 2008 when I started!
Ah, Provence…I so loved reading a Year in Provence as well as the section in Kermit Lynch’s Adventures on the Wine Trail. I look forward to a time when I can taste these wines and smell the garrigue in the air right there in Provence. Until then, I will just have to read, sip and imagine.
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One of these days we’ll be able to travel again!