The Wines of Provence brought 27 winemakers to Boston this week with a tasting at Island Creek Oyster Bar. Provence is the leading rosé winemaker globally and between 2001 and 2014, saw exports of its wines to all countries rise 204% in volume and 556% in value. Here in the U.S., the market saw double-digit rates during each of the past 11 years.
Sales of imported rosés priced at or over $12 a bottle grew 41.1% on value and 34.3% on volume from July, 2014 to July, 2015, according to Nielsen. As the birthplace of rosé wine since 600 B.C., Provence has become the largest wine region in the world specializing in Appellation d’Origine Protégée (AOP) rosé wines which comprised 89% of AOP wines produced in Provence in ’14.
While all of the wines tasted were excellent, high quality offerings, several stood out in particular. We saw old favorites such as Sacha Lichine’s Whispering Angel Cote de Provence rosé, 2015, and discovered Chateau Gassier’s
La Pas Du Moin Cotes de Provence Sainte-Victoire Rosé, 2015 with notes of berry and sour cherry and hints of exotic fruits, excellent acidity and a long finish became a new favorite. Fruity and delicious, it is comprised of 35% Syrah, 32% Grenache, 15% Cinsault, 10% Rolle and 8% Ugni Blanc.
A white Cotes de Provence, Symphony 2014, made with Rolle grapes from Chateau Sainte Marguerite stood out for its clear gold color and complexity with aromas of citrus, vanilla and honey. Aromatic and rich, it was, as its winemakers put it , “a moment of enchantment.”
We also liked the wines at Chateau De Berne, Grand Récolte and PUR, elegant, fruity and delicate wines seeking an importer in Massachusetts. Other winning wineries included Chateau Saint-Maur, one of only 18 of Provence’s 700 wineries that are classified “Cru Classé.” Ranging in suggested retail price from $25 (Chateau Saint Maur Cru Classé) to $65 (Clos D Capelune Cru Classé), these elegant offerings work well with food, with minerality, freshness, full body and rich fruit.
Pure Provence proves that wines do not have to be the highest priced to be recognized for their refinement, elegance and fruit. L’Opaline, a Coteaux Varois en Provence with Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah, at a suggested $12.99 won 87 points from Wine Spectator and is fresh and full, while Cotes de Provence Rosé, 2015, at an SRP of $14.99 brings citrus notes and a fruit-filled nose.
These wines are just a few of the many at the tasting but stood out for us for their appealing rich fruit, fullness and flavor. Visit www.provencewines.com and learn more about this small region with big value wines!