Since Roses are such a big item again we thought some further definition of the greatest Rose appellation in the world was in order. For instance - How does Cotes de Provence differ from just plain Provence?
It turns out Provence is one of those overly large appellations, like Paso Robles in California, that has smaller wine appellations within it. The Cotes de Provence appellation is the largest of these with fifty thousand acres (!) in eastern Provence. Actually it is the eastern half of Provence though not entirely contiguous. It is also home to most of the Rose made in Provence. Eighty percent of its production is Rose. Of the remainder, 15% is red and just 5% is white.
The red grapes allowed in Cotes de Provence Rose are Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Carignon and an indigenous variety called Tibouren. The first four listed are those blended into Southern Rhone reds with Grenache being the greatest of them. Some Roses are 100% Grenache. Carignon is the least of these. No Cotes de Provence Rose may have more than forty percent Carignon.
Tibouren is an interesting item in itself. It accounts for fifteen percent of vineyard plantings in Cotes de Provence and offers an earthy bouquet to typical blends. It also has a lengthy history there arriving from further east around 500bc.
Within the Cotes de Provence there are three departments: Var, Bouches-du-Rhone and Alpes-Maritimes and between them lie eighty-four communes. Two distinct geologies exist in the region: calcareous soils to the northwest and crystalline soils to the southeast.
We would be remiss not to mention the very important garrigue of Provence, the low lying fragrant vegetation of lavender, thyme, rosemary and juniper. We have written about this before. In short, the vegetation actually affects the resulting wine flavors!
It should be mentioned that wine quality in the Cotes de Provence is uneven and that has to do with the extremes in topography. We're talking about the Alps afterall, so we're pretty sure blending would have to be an art form there.
Then lastly we should mention the rose winemaking method responsible for the great success of the region. They use the saignee (sohn-yay) method which is extracting (bleeding) extra phenolics, color and flavor from red grape must to goose the rose.
Please call 770-287-WINE(9463) or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to attend the Dominique Chambon Halloween wine tasting this Saturday afternoon (1-4pm). Dominique is one of the most entertaining presenters in the business and he has an unbelievable fine wine portfolio. At least one of our tasters should be a Provence Rose.