WTN /Wine Advisor: Rediscovering Provence

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WTN /Wine Advisor: Rediscovering Provence

Postby Robin Garr » Mon Jun 09, 2008 12:47 pm

Rediscovering Provence

France's Provence region has become a mighty trendy place in recent years. With its sunny climate, vivid colors, appetizing cuisine and natural scents of lavender, rosemary and thyme, Provence has inspired books, posters, television programs and, of course, travel packages.

Curiously, though, the wines of Provence don't seem to have developed as affectionate a following. Those in the know appreciate their aromatic charms, but even though Provence wines share much in common with the neighboring Southern Rhone and Languedoc, they don't command much publicity ... or shelf space in retail wine stores.

A few Provence appellations like Bandol enjoy near-"cult" followings, and specific producers like Domaine Trevallon and the organic Mas de Gourgonnier featured in the April 30, 2008 Wine Advisor are sought out by their fans.

But the fact remains that Provence wine doesn't seem to enjoy the luster that surrounds Provence as a region, and that's a shame. The wines are typically food-friendly, balanced and - with the possible exception of top Bandols, Trevallon and a few other prizes - quite affordable.

Here's a fine, budget-priced Provence wine I recently enjoyed. I'd like to hear about your favorites.

Domaine Valdernier 2005 Coteaux d'Aix en Provence ($9.99)

Very dark garnet with a clear edge. Fresh raspberry aromas, with a distinct edge of fresh herbs that makes me think of herbes de Provence. Raspberries and something a little more tart - cranberry, maybe - in a fresh and inviting flavor. Good, crisp red fruit lingers in a cleansing acidic finish. U.S. importer: Wine Adventures Inc., West Des Moines, Iowa. (Jan. 31, 2008)

FOOD MATCH: Fine with a standard red-meat match, local grass-fed rib eyes pan-seared medium-rare.

VALUE: Interesting, fruity and tart, a no-brainer at or around the $10 point.

WHEN TO DRINK: The '05 is still showing well, but it's not a wine for long-term cellaring.

Here's a link to the U.S. importer's Web page:

Find vendors and check prices for Domaine Valdernier Coteaux d'Aix en Provence on Wine-Searcher.com:
http://www.wine-searcher.com/find/Valde ... g_site=WLP

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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Rediscovering Provence

Postby JC (NC) » Mon Jun 09, 2008 2:20 pm

I will be visiting Provence late July to early August and I'm so excited. I've already sampled a number of the wines at wine dinners in Raleigh. (A restaurant owner who is from Provence originally is leading the tour group.) Will see if I have any notes on favorite wines from the region to share.
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Rediscovering Provence

Postby Tim York » Mon Jun 09, 2008 4:26 pm

Thanks, Robin, for the reminder about the interest of wines from Provence. However my take on the region is that, with the exceptions which you mention and one or two others of which more below, it has under-performed its potential largely due to the easy money to be earned from the tourists who flock to the Côte d'Azur throughout the year. In particular Rosé de Provence can be delicious but too often is bland easy drinking and over-priced.

Hopefully improvement is under way, particularly to the West in the Les Baux area and around Aix-en-Provence away from the tourist beaches. Close to Trévallon, I have had excellent wines from Domaine Hauvette whose owner's reputation for eccentricity and frequent unfriendliness has discouraged me from visiting. Close to Aix-en-Provence, enjoying an exceptional cool terroir in a North facing amphitheatre, is the small appellation Palette with the outstanding estate Château Simone which produces one of the most elegant whites in the Midi, an outstanding age-worthy rosé and a decent red. Wines which I bought in the mid/late-90s from Domaine Les Bastides and Domaine Richeaume, close to the Cézanne famous Montagne Sainte-Victoire, are still excellent. At the other end of the Côte d'Azur, the tiny appellation Bellet, mostly within the Nice city boundaries, provides glimpses of some original flavours though no bottles which have come my way have overwhelmed me and they are quite dear.
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