Voici l’intégralité en anglais de l’article de Bill sur les grands rouges de Provence publié ce mois-ci dans les médias canadiens « WineAlign » et « chacun son vin ». Bill était venu nous rencontrer en Provence il y a quelques temps pour découvrir les terroirs de notre belle région qui ne produit pas heureusement que du rosé !
The other wines of Provence by Bill Zacharkiw
When one imagines Provence, it’s hard not to think rosé. And for good reason. It is one of the wine world’s most successful wine styles. Not only is it a massive commercial success for the wineries, but it has spawned copycats the world over, each looking to out do the next in terms of an even paler colour, even more nuanced fruit.
So it’s easy to overlook the other wines. Provence does in fact make white and red wines, and many of them are exceptional.
What is a Provencal red? They share a typicity with other Mediterranean red wines – dark fruits with notes of garrigue, or the wild herbs and flowers which grow in the countryside. But there is a finesse in these wines that separate them from many other southern reds.
The three main appellation are Côteaux Varois, Côteaux d’Aix-en-Provence and Côtes de Provence. Depending on where you are, you will have some variation between a blend of grenache and syrah alongside cabernet sauvignon and mourvedre.
Côtes de Provence is the largest appellation and most diverse. Within sub regions, like Fréjus, La Londe and Pierrefeu, each with their own soil type. I loved the syrah from Pierrefeu, and La Londe, right by the coast, is ideal for mourvedre. The 2013 Chateau la Tour de L’eveque is a brilliantly robust wine that typifies this mix between fruit and interesting aromatics. On a more reserved note, Dupéré-Barrera’s 2014 Côtes de Provence is an earthier, more elegant choice. And if you want a great entry level wine, the 2015 Côteaux Varois from Chateau La Lieue won’t disappoint.
The two jewels for red wines might be the northern part of Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence and Bandol. In the Aix, clay and limestone covers much of the appellation. Of all the Provence appellations, it produces the least amount of rosé. In the northern part of the appellation, the cooler temperatures are ideal for producing well structured red wines and there is a higher proportion of cabernet sauvignon. The wines are very refined and have serious ageability. As a common thread, I find lots of spice and herbal notes like mint and lavender.
Try the 2013 Chateau Romanin, Baux-de Provence for a blend of the Rhone varieties, led by syrah and gernache, with cabernet sauvignon. One of my favourite red wines comes from Peter Fischer, who at Chateau Revelette produces amazing complex and finessed wines. The 2014 Coteaux d’Aix is absolutely brilliant. If you aren’t afraid to spend $38, then I strongly suggest you try Fisher’s 2014 Grand Rouge. It is a staple of my cellar and ages with amazing grace.
In Bandol, the mourvèdre grape can “have its feet in the water and see the sea,” as the local axiom goes for describing the ideal terroir for Mourvedre. The reds show dark fruits, fine tannin and can age with the best of the world’s red wines. If you want a taste, try the 2014 Cuvee India from Dupere-Barrera or for a wine with a bit more age, the 2012 from Domaine de Gros Noré.
As a bonus, for those of you interested in organic wines, this is one of the regions with the highest percentage of organically grown grapes in the world, especially for “quality” wines. The reason is the climate. It’s warm, but never hot, and humidity is very low because of the mistral winds which constantly blow. So organic viticulture is relatively easy. Bravo to all those many wineries that have taken that step.
So with rosé season around the corner, get into that Provence frame of mind with some delicious and unique reds.