Life gets busy. These days I find myself reading quite a bit, but the reading I am doing is often short articles or posts on my phone. I long for a cold, perhaps rainy day where I can curl up on the couch with a blanket and a book. Oh and perhaps a good glass of bandol wine.
The French #Winophiles
This month the French #Winophiles decided to tackle Provençe, and take the mostly non-rosy path, searching out red and white wines from the region. (Scroll to the bottom for links to all of the posts by the #Winophiles) Wendy Klik our host and leader for this journey procured multiple copies of Peter Mayle’s “A Year in Provence” to inspire us (and, lucky for me, satisfy my urge for reading!) These were provided by the Blue Vase Book Exchange. This is a local book exchange in Michigan.
Blue Vase Book Exchange
What exactly does the Blue Vase Book Exchange do? Here’s a quote from their website:
We strive to find balance between purpose and profit, which is why we do what we do! By hosting our book exchange, we can feel good about getting books into hands who might not have access to literature via other means.https://www.bluevasebookexchange.com/about
Curling up and reading
After receiving the book that Wendy so graciously sent to me, I found a corner of the couch on a cold winter day, grabbed a blanket and a glass of wine and started to read.
“A Year in Provence” within it’s first pages, will have you daydreaming of moving to Provençe. Even as he describes the cold of the Mistral wind in the winter, you will find yourself longing for this place. It is the “simpler life”, the unhurried pace and as this book was written a while ago, it also reminds of the quiet of a life free from our cell phones.
On to my search for a bottle of wine that was not a rosé from Provençe.
Searching for the Red Wines of Provençe
This region is of course known for it’s rosés, which are perfect on a warm day in the south of France. The south of France shares it’s long lovely season with my home here in Las Vegas. Most of the year is warm (often times too warm…”but it’s a dry heat”…whatever it gets hot!), with a bit of the year where the cold rolls in. Perhaps we are spoiled and that is what makes the cold feel all the more brutal. I am shivering in the 39 degree temps! Regardless, the cold weather made me anxious to find some reds from the region.
I searched for maps and information on the reds of the region, trying to see what would have been nearby for the Mayle’s. The house in the book is was built in the 18th century and is located in the Luberon Region of Provençe outside of the town of Lourmarin. This would be within the Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence. The town is enchanting…
This region covers 4127 Hectares and produces what would be about 28 million bottle of wine annually (Information Courtesy of Vins du Provence) 82.5% is rosé, 5.5% white, and 12% red. This is about 16% of the wine made in Provence. Primary grapes include Cinsault, Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache & Counoise, with bits of Cab Sav and Carignan. (I have researched and can’t seem to find what grapes Faustin had planted in the book)
On to Bandol
Of course finding a bottle of red wine from Provençe is significantly harder than looking it up! I ended up with a bottle from Bandol, which is perhaps the best known spot in Provençe for red wine. Mourvèdre is the “King of Grapes” here and you will find it as the primary grape in the areas red blends. In fact, often if you say “Mourvèdre” to a wine lover the first word that will come out of their mouth is “Bandol”. Often you will find grenache and cinsault blended in, or perhaps syrah or carignan, so we are still within the varieties that are well known in Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, but here, in Bandol, mourvèdre will lead the blend.
The village of Bandol sits west of Toulon and east of Marseille. We spoke before about the history of the wines of this region “Cotes de Provence through rose filled glasses“
Bandol has some of the oldest vineyards in France. The Phocaeans arrived on the shores of Provençe in the 6th Century bringing amphorae, vines and wine. The Romans came and the Phocaean colony of Torroeis became Torroentrum and the vineyard they planted here can still be seen today. (information from http://www.vinsdebandol.com/en/history.cfm)
The Wine – 2015 Le Pont Bandol
In the spirit of Provençe and the book, I refused to stress about the wine. I picked up the only bottle I could find at the wine store which was a 2015 Le Pont Bandol. It was a 60/40 blend of Mourvèdre and Grenache.
The sketch on the label of Le Pont got me wondering about the place and I searched and found a photo of the Viaduc de Bandol, this shot taken from out on the water looking back at Bandol and the Viaduc.
In my search I also came upon a painting by Edouard Pignon. He painted this in 1957. (Click through and give the painting a look, in the lower half of the image you can see the curve of the viaduc)
This painting evokes the wild feel of Provençe. You can almost smell the salt and garrigue. This scent melds with the Mourvèdre and Grenache in my glass. Scent is memory and all this lets me step into Mayler’s world.
A Simple Pairing
Did I do a pairing? A food pairing that is? Well yes. The mourvèdre screams for something wild, like boar. I settled for a rare steak, roasted potatoes covered with herbs de Provençe and some peas. It was simple and delicious. I will admit to dreaming a little of the feast that the Mayle’s enjoyed with their neighbors, the never ending feast in the cold of winter. That feast will be for another day, one with a full house and a long table!
Have I finished the book?
No. My bottle is empty. I am searching for another Bandol and I will keep reading. The thing is…I don’t want the book to end. Each time I have a moment, I want to curl up with my Bandol and my book. He wrote a few more books didn’t he? In the meantime, I can continue to visit Provençe through pages written by my fellow #Winophiles as they share their journeys through these wines of the region.
More on Provence from the #Winophiles
As I mentioned this month’s French Winophiles was sponsored by Blue Vase Book Exchange. They provided some of our members with a copy of “A Year in Provence” by Peter Mayle. You can find Blue Vase Book Exchange on Amazon and on Facebook.
And….if you read this before February 16th 2019…you can join us on twitter to talk about the wines and the region. Just follow #Winophiles and join the conversation. We get going at 8 am Pacific or 11 am Eastern!
- “A Book, An Inspired Braise, and A (Surprise!) Bottle of Red from Provençe” by Culinary Adventures with Camilla.
- “At Last! A Provencal Rouge-2006 Domaine La Bastide Blanche Bandol” by Enofylz Wine Blog
- “Beef Daube Provençal with Bandol Red Wine” by Cooking Chat
- “Bellet: Provence’s Urban Appellation” by L’Occasion
- “Blanc de Bellet: Like a Bouquet of Spring Flowers!” by Keep the Peas
- “Dreaming of Provence with a Rabbit Lasagna and a Clos Cibbone” by A Day in the Life on the Farm
- “Halibut with Meyer Lemon Olive Salsa and Bandol Blanc” by Always Ravenous
- “Lamb Shanks Provençal with Les Baux de Provence and Cassis” by Food Wine Click
- “Pissaladiere and a Provence Red” by Our Good Life
- “Provence: Beyond Rosé” by Kate’s Recipe Box
- “Provence: Viewing the World Through Rose Wine Glasses” by Side Hustle Wino
- “Say Oui to a Glass of Provence Rose and Succulent Seafood” by Chinese Food & Wine Pairings
- “With Love From Provence. A Biodynamic Red and a Kosher Rose with Tritip, Quiche, Soup, Salad by Wine Predator
- Cooking to the Wine: Domaine de L’Olivette Bandol with Herb Roasted Leg of Lamb and Saucy Mediterranean Veggies by Somm’s Table