After a very long day of travel, we got home from France last night on the 11 o’clock boat, after driving from Aix-en-Provence to Marseille, flying from Marseille to Heathrow to Vancouver with a 4-hour wait in London, delays with baggage in Vancouver, and of course that eerie thing of spending nine hours in the air while the Sun moves eight of those hours with you. So you land just an hour after you take off, local time, which is, you know, always hard to get your head around cuz it’s so close to the local time when you took off all those hours ago!
Rosé en Provence
At some point you have to ask yourself: how is rosé made, anyway? Well, there are several methods, but the one most used en Provence probably accounts for most of the rosés you see on our shelves. Rosé is typically made from red grapes (i. e., that can alternatively be used to make red wine). The main difference is that when making rosé, the juice remains in contact with the skins for as little as a few hours, and at a relatively cool temperature, before separating it from the skins. The longer the contact time between the skins and the juice, the darker the color and the more red-wineish the wine becomes. So the very pale rosés one often finds in Provence usually mean that the contact time is very short, with the common goal of producing a wine that is aromatic, fresh, crisp (acidic), and refreshing. And pale!
Commanderie de Bargemon
Our last few days in France were spent at Aix-en-Provence, which is spitting distance from one of our best-known rosé producers, Commanderie de Bargemone, where we did squeeze in a brief visit. The land here is quite flat, and the fifty-odd hectares of grapes here translate into about 400k bottles, or in the ballpark of 33K cases. There we took a tour of the production facilities with owner Marina.
This Week’s Tasting Notes
Anne Amie Amrita white ’13 Oregon $14
Palate-tickling blend of pinot blanc, viognier, and riesling; aromas of quince, Rainier cherry, and lemon; palate of strawberry, raspberry, and nectarine; good match for Asian spices.
Bargemone Provence Rose ’13 France $14
Pale pink. Bright, mineral-dusted aromas of pink grapefruit and dried red berries. Light-bodied and racy on the palate, offering tangy citrus and redcurrant flavors. Finishes brisk and dry, with good lingering spiciness and length.
Olivares Monastrell Altos de la Hoya ’11 Spain 91 pts $10
Black raspberry and cassis aromas, with spicy mineral and floral elements. Powerful dark fruit flavors with vanilla and cola nuances and juicy acidity. Impressively velvety wine, with very good finishing breadth and lingering spiciness.
Rio Madre Rioja ’12 Spain 91pts $10
Sexy, high-toned cherry and blackcurrant aromas with notes of Indian spices and fresh rose. Smooth and seamless in texture, offering intense black and blue fruit flavors that become spicier with air. A great value.
Les Aphillanthes Galets Plan de Dieu ’10 91pts $23
From 45-65 year old vines, 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 20% Mourvedre. It boasts stunning aromas of kirsch liqueur, licorice, camphor, tobacco leaf and underbrush. Spicy, peppery and loaded with fruit.
Since circumstances here en France are conspiring to make posting the weekly blog something of a challenge, this post will just be a reminder to all of our Faithful Followers that the wine shop will NOT be open this weekend, because we are en chateau deep in the French countryside in the northeast corner of the Languedoc wine region. If there is time later I will update. Right now I gotta go or some really good wine is gonna disappear before I get to it!
ummm…late reminder…we are not open this weekend or next…!
Just concluding a week in Lyon and environs, leaving today ( Saturday) to join Ryan and tour group at a beautiful place somewhere, as best we can tell, in the middle of No Where…!
More later ! In the meantime, here are a few photos. The first is the view from the top of Hermitage, the second of Hermitage from below, third, a street in Vieux Lyon.
There was a time when flying had the air (!) of luxury about it. People dressed up a bit. It was Festive. Passengers we’re treated well. And here by “well” I mean “treated to a bit of comfort and luxury,” not merely “herded politely into barely tolerable density.” Well, it’s not like that any more. Long flights have become something of an ordeal for the hoi pollo I, with a bit of comfort available for those willing and able to pay. Coach class is the new Steerage of steamship days. That said, we did upgrade our tickets a little to get just a little more wiggle room, and it did make a difference in the quality of our flight experience.
However, the flight schedule this time did involve a lot of time at airports (Vancouver, Heathrow, and Geneva), and this time the relentless crush of the security queues, the stupefying heat of too many bodies too close together for too long took a definite toll. Nevertheless, we were delivered magically to Geneva, where we rented a car and drove for two hours through beautiful mountains to the little town of Arbois, in the Jura wine region about an hour and a half northeast of Lyon. Photo is looking toward Geneva from the hills north of the city and airport.
Arbois is a charming town at the center of the Jura wine world. It is beautifully situated amid steep hillsides and beautifully sloping fields and vineyards. The wines here are unique, especially the whites, some of which are deliberately aged without topping up the barrels the wines sit in, so that the longer they rest in barrel, the more oxidized they get. Thus they develop flavors strange to modern palates. More on these wines in a later post. For now here are some photos of the area.
This weekend in the wine shop
The wine shop will be open as usual this Friday and Saturday, with Ryan hosting. At the moment the tasting selections for the weekend have not been established, but a number of excellent French wines came in in the past week, so it is very likely several of them will appear on the tasting list. also, please note that the shop will be closed for the two following weekends, June 7 and June 14. Be sure to stock up! The shop will reopen on Friday, June 20…make a note of it!