© Andy Abramson
Thanksgiving is not celebrated in France, obviously so lots of wine, food and traversing across the Provence countryside occurs for yours truly.
I stopped before lunch at the wonderful Maison des Vin in Les Arcs, the spot where the entire Cotes De Provence wine industry sells their best, dines upstairs and tells the world about their offerings.
Downstairs is the tasting room and shop. Upstairs is their gourmet restaurant, Bacchus Gourmand, the site of today's lunch.
When you walk in you get a smiling greeting from Natalie. More than a dozen wines are up for tasting, changing each week, in order to give every producer a fair chance to show off their wines.
Up first are the blancs (white wine)
I'm told that 1998 is better than 97 for blancs and roses upfront, so I'm not too concerned. I've been here twice before and know the drill. The perceived best and most expensive wine is always poured last. But, usually there is a hidden gem or two in each flight.
1998 Cave de Ramateulle, Chateau Moulins Pailles, from Saint Tropez 29FF
This is a cooperative wine. It's light pale yellow-gold color delivers an impressive array of fruit. It's light, dry and zesty wine. Off the mark, you sense limestone, limes and orange peel. It follows through with minerals and stone flavors and ends with a great finish.
90% Ugni Blanc
Chateau Verez, Vidauban 30FF
This is a deep golden colored wine with a simple taste and slight acidity. The wine finishes with melons and apricots. Simple and very on dimensional.
95% Ugni Blanc
1998 Chateau de Roux, Le Cannet 35FF
Straw color with a herbaceous bouquet. It is round, dry, lush and delicious. Super extraction of fruit, melons, peaches, pears, exotic fruits like papaya and kiwi. Long lingering finish and best of the lot.
1997 Chateau Marvenne 40F
Mineral nose at first very soft on the palate. It has a light golden color but no really strong flavors. Easy to see why the US importer dropped them.
1998 Chateau de la Gordonne, Les Grauieres, Pierrefau 25FF
Deep rose color with hints of strawberry and raspberry on the nose. They come through along with an almost oozing level of blueberries. This is an easy to drink wine, which is round and has a full on the mouth finish.
1998 Cave de Gonfaron 26.5F
Light pale salmon color with flavors of fresh strawberry fruit and ripe raspberries. Nothing special.
1998 Domaine de Beaumont, Clos du Hermitage, Entrecasteaux 30FF
Spritzy on the first taste it has a light coral color with a spicy nose and slightly grassy flavor. No lingering finish, but it is very dry and would be a good summer sipper.
Chateau de Pourcieux, Porcieux 35FF
Good structure, simple fruit. Typical strawberry flavor. Dry finish.
1998 Domaine Des Plains, Cuvee Tibouline Roquebrune 48 FF
Light salmon color with a very lively aroma. Loads of strawberry, off dry middle. Hot acidic finish.
1998 La Cave de Cotignac, Pierrefeu 15FF
Figure $2 a bottle, has to be awful. WRONG. Though this wine is simple and one dimensional, it is very well made, with a light red color. It's a quaffer with loads of berries-black, blue, raspberry and red cherries. A nice finish to boot.
1998 Domaine de la Bouvier, 34FF
Aged in oak, this wine comes off like an Aussie red. Super deep extraction in the color and flavor, its got the stuffing to age 8-10 years and needs another year or so to lose the baby woodsy flavor and the tannins to soften. Only three months in bottle this wine was very impressive.
1997 Domaine de Saint Jean Baptiste, 42FF
Ouch. Acidic, hot and unbalanced. No real fruit to describe. Either a bad bottle, or past its prime.
1996 Domaine de Curebeasse, Roaches Noir, Frjus 46FF
Not a big wine it was actually fairly light and easy to drink. Some cassis flavors.
1996 Chateau Miraval, Le Val 46FF
Rich and wonderful. Loaded with red fruit. Lots of spice on nose and palate. Jammy cherries, plums, cassis, blueberries with a lingering finish. Very good.
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