Côtes de Provençe through Rosé filled glasses #Winophiles

Emotion, Urban Provençe and Inspiration. Emotion and Inspiration come from Château de Berne and Urban Provençe is from Ultimate Provençe feature shot

Provençe …

Even the word itself sounds like a sigh, an exhalation. Your mind drifts to summer breezes, the fragrance of lavender in the air, warm sun on your skin, sunflowers, olive trees, elegant beaches and Provençe rosé.

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This month the French #Winophiles are tackling French Rosé.  Rosé, the wine of summer, can be made anywhere, from almost any red wine grape.  The styles across the world vary and even within the borders of France you will find many expressions of “rosé” from Tavel to Alsace, sparkling rosés from Champagne and crémants from other regions. Even with all those rosés out there, when you first think of rosé, you probably think of Provençe. It is the largest wine region in the world that specializes in rosé. The French now drink more rosé than white wine, and the love of rosé from Provençe is global. There is a bit of history with this.

Quick Provençe history

Le Vallon des Auffes, Marseille

Le Vallon des Auffes, Marseille

It was somewhere around 600 BC when the ancient Greeks founded the city of Marseille and brought vines to southern France. Most of the wines made at this time were lightly colored. The Romans came in 125 BC and claimed the region “Provincia Romana”  giving it it’s current name. While the Romans brought red wines of a deeper note to the region, the quality and reputation of the lighter colored rosé from this region held. Today 88% of the region’s wine production is rosé.

Making Rosé

So there are 4 basic ways to make a rosé.

Blending: You can mix red and white wine to get the desired color, but this method is not highly regarded, and is not used in Provençe. Back in 2009 there was a proposal to allow this method and French wine producers protested so vehemently, that the proposal was withdrawn.

Saignée: Saignée means “to bleed” and wines made in this style are a byproduct of red wine making. As a red wine is fermenting part of the juice is drained off. This juice will be pink, because it has not had much skin contact. This concentrates the juice left in the tank allowing in a higher skin to juice ratio giving you a fuller red wine.

Limited Skin Maceration: This method leaves the juice on the skins to “mascerate” for a short time (at least compared to red wines), typically 6 hours to 48 hours although in Provençe that time is more in the range of 2 to 20 hours.

Direct Pressing: To make a really light colored rose, the grapes may be gently pressed and the juice taken immediately away to ferment, not left to sit on the skins at all. This will give you a light pink color, just a little bit from the skins, which is inevitable if they are red grapes.

The last two methods are the most well regarded and there is one big reason for this. The grapes used in these methods are typically grown specifically to make rosé. The saignée method is using grapes that were grown to make red wine. They may be very good, but the vintner is focused mostly on the red wine and the rosé is a byproduct. With the limited skin masceration and direct pressing methods the grapes are picked with the acid to sugar ratio perfect for making a rosé not a red, and these can be very different things.  Grapes for rosé will typically be harvested earlier than for red wines.  This keeps the sugar low and the acid high.

In Provençe that delicate light pink color is due to the majority of producers using the Direct Pressing method. Rosé in this region is typically made dry, that is with no residual sugar.

Provençe: the region

 

a map of the wine regions in Provençe

Vinoble de Provençe, a map of the wine regions in Provençe

The region of Provençe is large, it spans the south east corner of France with the Italian border to the east, the Mediterranean sea to the south, Occitanie to the west and Rhône and the Alps to the North. It includes the City of Marseille and on the coast encompasses St. Tropez, Cannes and Nice. North up the Rhône it takes in Arles where Vincent Van Gogh was inspired to paint his famous sunflowers.

Overall the regions warm days and cool nights due to the Mediterranean Sea makes Provençe a perfect place to grow wine grapes. The area is also gifted with the “Mistral” a wind off the Alps that keeps the grapes dry, so there is no worry of mold on the bunches late in the season.

Côtes de Provençe

There are multiple appellations in the Provençe region, the largest being Côtes de Provence. Within this large region, there are many differences in the areas subregions, which you may see named on labels.  These include: Saint-Victoire, La Londe, Fréjus and Pierrefeu.  I recently had a friend mention Pierrefeu and I look forward to diving more deeply into this area.

The Côtes de Provençe encompasses 49,000 acres and produces 123 million bottles of wine, 89% of which are Rosé. There are some rules within the AOC. Residual sugar is restricted to 4 grams per liter and the minimum alcohol level is 11%.

Grapes in Côtes de Provençe

There are 5 primary grapes and 6 secondary grapes that are allowed to be planted:

Primary Grapes:

Cinsault, Grenaches, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Tibouren

Secondary Grapes:

Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Clairette, Semillon, Ugni Blanc, Vermentino (or Rolle)

The wines we tasted through are from the Côtes de Provençe AOC. Two are from the Château de Berne and the third from Ultimate Provençe. These wines were provided to us by Teuwen Communication and the Provençe Rosé Group, but all opinions are our own. The wine maker for all of these wines is Alexis Cornu of the Provençe Rosé Group. The Provençe Rose group has 4 estates; Château de Berne, Ultimate Provence, Châteaux St. Roux, Château de Bertrands.

Emotion, Urban Provençe and Inspiration. Emotion and Inspiration come from Château de Berne and Urban Provençe is from Ultimate Provençe

Emotion, Urban Provençe and Inspiration. Emotion and Inspiration come from Château de Berne and Urban Provençe is from Ultimate Provençe

Château de Berne

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The Romans planted grapes here and the vineyard was a trading post along the Aurelian Way (the Roman Road from Italy to Spain). The Château site is on the Triassic Plateau, sheltered by forests, atop a Jurassic limestone bed.

(The Triassic Plateau…little super simple geology here…The Triassic period sat just before the Jurassic period at the beginning of the Mesozoic era or the age of the dinosaurs)

In addition to the vineyard the Château is home to a 5 star resort.  The vineyard is 330 acres and they also source from other growers. The vineyards sit between 820 and 1082 feet in limestone and clay soils.

Harvest here is done in the middle of the night to keep the grapes cool, which allows for more control in extracting color and flavor.

Both of the following wines; Emotion and Inspiration do a 2-3 hour cold soak and are fermented in stainless steel.

Emotion

Emotion Rosé from Château de Berne

Emotion Rosé from Château de Berne

This wine is 50% Grenache, 25% Cinsault and 25% Syrah. Released in February of 2018 this 2017 Vintage sits at 12.5% alcohol and retails for around $16.

This wine was the lightest in color and aroma.  The scent of stone fruit pits and minerals first hit my nose.  In my mouth, it’s tart with a hint of pink grapefruit and light notes of strawberries in the back.  It went nicely with the goat cheese and I enjoyed the prosciutto and melon with this.

Suggested pairings from the winery include: Waldorf salad, tomato-basil bruschetta or fresh goat cheese. (We did some fresh goat cheese with our pairing)

Inspiration

Inspiration Rosé from Château de Berne Côtes de Provençe

Inspiration Rosé from Château de Berne Côtes de Provençe

70% Grenache Noir, 20% Cinsault & 10 % Syrah. This 2017 vitage sits at 12.5% alcohol and retails for around $19.99.

The color was slightly deeper on this wine and the nose a bit more prominent.  I caught strawberries and slate, and then deeper red fruit like pomegranate.  It was tart, and all that grenache in the blend loved the strawberries.

Suggested pairings from the winery include: arugula and watermelon salad (which we had to make and try…we added crumbled goat cheese to ours) or shrimp cocktail.

Ultimate Provence

Just 30 minutes drive from Saint-Tropez this 100 acre estate is located near the village of La Garde-Freinet. The vineyard is in an area of oak forest and the soil is shallow with a subsoil of a sandstone slab.

They have an amphitheatre where they hold movie screening and concerts and a restaurant with family style dishes.  They make but one wine, Urban Provence.

Urban Provence

Urban Provençe Côtes de Provençe Rosé from Ultimate Provençe

Urban Provençe Côtes de Provençe Rosé from Ultimate Provençe

45% Grenache Noir, 35% Cinsault, 15% Syrah and 5% Rolle (known elsewhere as Vermentino) it sits at 12.5% alcohol and retails around $22.99.

This was the biggest of the wines, richer on the nose and the palate, with more complexity than the other wines.  It was our favorite of the evening.

Suggested pairings from the winery include: charcuterie spread, grilled shrimp or a fresh fruit tart.

A little news on the region

The 2017 vintage had a heat wave in the spring and then a late frost, with a dry summer leading to less fruit. It has been reported that rosé production in Provençe was down almost 11% in 2017 due to the late frosts. (http://www.harpers.co.uk/news/fullstory.php/aid/23442/Provence_2017_wine_production_slumps_12_25_as_quality_rises.html)

Our Pairings

The truth is, rosé is a forgiving wine, it’s terribly polite with food, adjusting and melding to go with almost anything.  It can pair with Asian, Indian, Italian, Mexican, Spanish, Thai, Chinese, Sushi, burgers, BBQ, Steak, Lobster…you name it.  A couple of things to avoid are butter and creme sauces, bleu cheese and game, and quite honestly, bleu cheese and game could work if you were pairing with a deeper rosé, like a Tavel, or a Mourvedré rosé.

I was really into the whole idea of Provençe, so we stayed for the most part with foods from the region, or things you might readily eat at a café or restaurant in the area.  These are also pretty simple dishes that you can whip up easily, like we did, at home, without too much work.  It’s Provençe right?  We want to keep the relaxed feel going.  Close your eyes, picture the lavender, sunflowers, olive trees, beaches..or scroll back to the top and soak those in again.

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We began with a cheese and charcuterie plate with sausage, brie, goat cheese, radishes, strawberries and olives, as well as melon wrapped in proscuitto and a watermelon, arugula and goat cheese salad.  I definitely recommend the goat cheese, as well as anything with fresh strawberries or watermelon, which paired nicely, pulling forward the Grenache in each of the blends.  With the melon and prosciutto you really can’t go wrong, the sweet and salty paired with the rosé and made the melon seem extra juicy.

a Traditional Salade Nicoise with shrimp on the sideI wanted to do a traditional Salade Niçoise and we did a little shrimp on the side.  I did not have all the ingredients to create Herbs de Provençe so we improvised with fennel and orange seasoning, crushed dried lavender and dried sage on the shrimp.

The salade Niçoise was fresh spinach topped with red potatoes (that had been sliced, cooked and drizzled with a dry white wine), green beans, radishes, tuna in oil, capers, olives, sliced cherry tomatoes and a dressing of shallot, olive oil, thyme, dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper.

By the time we arrived at this part of the meal, the wine had loosened our tongues and conversation was flowing and we were eating, drinking and enjoying company, which is really what these wines were meant for.

Provençe is on my list of places to visit, but it is amazing how just by pouring a glass and closing your eyes, you can transport yourself to this perfect summer region. Grab a bottle and take a virtual trip.

The French #Winophiles Rosé Party!

You can join the French #Winophiles who will take to Twitter on Saturday morning July 21st to talk about all the amazing French rosés that they tasted!  Just head to Twitter at 11 am EST or 8 am PST and type in #Winophiles to follow along and join in!

And then grab a glass, pour some rosé and read the pieces below from some fifteen great wine writers on a variety of French rosés and wonderful things to pair with them!

Mardi from Eat Live Travel Write goes From Rosé? No Way! To # RoséAllDay.
Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares Warm Weather Rosé and Cheese Pairings.
Michelle from Rockin’ Red Blog will be Celebrating the Provençal Lifestyle with Three Rosés.
Lynn from Savor the Harvest cues up Obscure French Rosé Wines – Drink Now.
Gwendolyn from Wine Predator gives us a two-part treat: #RoséAllDay with Grilled Cheese Gourmet for #Winophiles and It’s Summer! Time for Rosé Wine from Provence, France and Seafood Pasta.
Nicole from Somm’s Table adds Cooking to the Wine: Ultimate Provence Urban Rosé with Herbed Sous-Vide Chicken Breasts and Roasted Eggplant Sheet Pan.

Jane from Always Ravenous offers up a Summer Cheese Board with Rosé.
David from Cooking Chat says it’s Always a Good Time to Sip Provence Rosé.
Jill from L’Occasion explains Why Rosé Matters, According to French Culture.
Liz from What’s In That Bottle advises us to Live a More Rosé Life.
Martin from Enofylz Wine Blog discusses The Pleasures of Provençal Rosé #Winophiles.
Payal from Keep the Peas will share Rosé: The Original Red Wine.
Julia from JuliaConey.com talks about Rosé: Not from Provence but Just as Delicious!
Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm tempts us with Soupe au Pistou Paired with Rosé.
Lauren from The Swirling Dervish shares Celebrating Our New Home with an Old Favorite: French Rosé.

We’ve explored rosé before.  If you want to learn more about rosé from France and beyond your can check out some other things we’ve written:

Rosé

Presqu’ile Rosé of Pinot Noir and a Strawberry, Citrus and Avocado Salad.

Is a Rosé just a Rosé

Rosé Season Rosé basics

Of course to keep up with all of our posts and wine adventures, you can find us here at Crushed Grape Chronicles . You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

 


Crawford Family Wines

Crawford Family Wines Tasting Room Los Olivos Santa Barbara County

Celebration of Harvest with the Santa Barbara Vintners is upon us and with the endless number of wineries in the Santa Barbara Valley, there are plenty to explore.  On our last trip we made a new discovery, as we visited Crawford Family Wines in Los Olivos.

Mark Horvath is the owner and winemaker at Crawford Family Wines.  That being so, you might ask where the name for the winery came from.  Well before Crawford Family Wines, Mark had another winery with Joey Gummere (who now runs his own winery Transcendence).  They spent a bit of time batting around names for their collaborative venture, mixing and matching their names and they came up with Kenneth Crawford.  Not names either of them were really known by, Kenneth is Joey’s first name, but he doesn’t go by it and Crawford is Mark’s mother’s maiden name but together…it sounded pretty cool, better than Gummere and Horvath or Mark & Joey, that was for sure.  So when opening his own winery Mark figured he would stick with the Crawford, and Crawford Family Wines was born.

Mark Horvath, Crawford family Wines speaking at the Santa Barbara Vintners Syrah Seminar April 2016

Mark and his wife Wendy have been in the wine industry for a while.  Spent time immmersed in the industry in Sonoma, with Mark working at Carmenet Winery, learning the cellar, the lab and then taking UC Davis courses.  It was at UC Davis, that he ran into a bunch of Santa Barbara Winemakers.  Mind you, back then there was not alot of buzz about Santa Barbara, but these winemakers had a passion and Mark and Wendy found themselves drawn to the area.  Mark worked at Babcock as the assistant winemaker, then started Kenneth Crawford with Joey Gummere and recently has worked at Tres Hermanas as the winemaker.Wendy has a background in the restaurant industry, she worked at The French Laundry and at Santa Barbara’s Wine Cask and has done work with a wine distributor.

The focus at Crawford Family Wines is Pinot Noir from the Sta. Rita Hills, many of which are vineyard specific.  They also do a Chardonnay from Rita’s Crown.  Outside of the Burgundian wines, they have an Albarino, a Rosé and a couple of Rhones.  We enjoyed a Syrah Seminar on the range of Santa Barbara Syrahs in April of 2016 and Mark spoke about the cool climate Syrah he was making from the Sta. Rita Hills AVA.

Crawford Family Wines Los Olivos Santa Barbara County Tasting Room

Tin Roof and all at the Crawford Family Wines Tasting Room in Los Olivos

The day we walked into the tasting room was a Monday and we were lucky enough to find Wendy manning the tasting room.  On the outside the building is rustic with a tin roof and wood siding, and beautifully manicured plants.  When you walk in the tasting room is clean and bright with white walls with large vivid photography gracing the walls.  While clean and sharp it’s also warm and welcoming.

We had a wonderful conversation with Wendy while tasting through their wines.

Speaking of the Wines….

 

Crawford Family Wines 2016 Albariño

Yeah, one of these things is not like the others…but this is a great wine and a great grape that is getting more traction in Santa Barbara.  The grapes for this particular wine come from Brick Barn Vineyard, which is located just outside the Sta. Rita Hills AVA in Buellton.  The entire vineyard is 50 acres on a former horse and cattle ranch.  This is only the 2nd crop of this grape.  It is fermented in Stainless steel and is bright and crisp with a some lemon, some peaches and florals.  This is what I would consider a Zesty wine.

$28.00

2015 Tin Shack Chardonnay

This wine comes from the Sta. Rita Hills, from Rita’s Crown.  As the name indicates this vineyard sits on the highest point in the region, the “Crown” in Sta. Rita.  The vineyard sits at 600 to 1000 feet and has diatomaceous soil.  Close to the ocean, you find fossilized seashells here.  It has southwest facing slopes and is surrounded by other well known, dare I say “famous” vineyards in the area, like Sea Smoke, La Rinconada, Sanford & Benedict and Fiddlestix.

This wine is called “Tin Shack” because it is fermented in Stainless Steel, then put into neutral oak for a year.  Only 180 cases were produced.  This is meant to get the best of both worlds with fermentation and winemaking technique.  The stainless steel fermentation captures the essence of the soil, the bright acidity and aromatics.  The year it spends in barrel on the lees softens it and adds some complexity giving you that baking spice on the nose.

The label for this wine as well as for the Walk Slow Pinot were done by Wendy’s Brother.

$42.00

2016 Rosé

This wine comes from probably the warmest vineyard that they source from.  It is a Grenache rosé from Mesa Verde Vineyard, which is one of the southern-most vineyards in the Santa Ynez Valley, sitting just west of Sunstone.  They picked early to keep the brightness, but because it is the southern part of the valley, the fruit developed some of those riper flavors.

$25.00

2013 Bentrock Pinot Noir

This is single vineyard wine from Bentrock Vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA.  Bentrock was formerly known as Salsipuedes.  This is the far South West corner of the Sta. Rita Hills appellation and is close to the ocean catching daily cold ocean winds (not breezes).  This is a lean and earthy Pinot Noir, with minerality.  This is a wine that has capture the terroir, you can taste the wind, the ocean, the reach for the warmth of sunlight.

$52.00

2014 Pinot Noir, Walk Slow

This Pinot is a blend of fruit from Bentrock and Babcock Vineyards.  It does 30% whole cluster fermentation and is 75% Babcock fruit which is clone 115 and 24% Bentrock which is clone 667.  Both vineyards are in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, but Babcock sits down in the valley on the route 246 where as Bentrock is up on the far west end of Santa Rosa Road.

This is 30% new french oak, which is the only new oak in his winemaking program.  It spends 16 months in barrel.  The fruit from these two different vineyards balance each other.  With a beautiful nose of black tea with woods and dark cherry and cherries and tart red fruit in your mouth.  (My mouth is watering just thinking about this wine and I’m kicking myself for not leaving with a bottle!)

The name of this wine “Walk Slow” is Mark’s reminder to himself to slow down and enjoy.  This is a wine that opens up with layer upon layer, you have to slow down and experience it as it changes in your glass.

$48.00

2014 Second Street Cuvée

The Second Street Cuvée is a GSM blend, in a Cotes-du-Rhone Style. It is named after the “Second Street” where their winery is located in Buellton.

It is 60% Grenache, 35% Syrah, 5% Mourvèdre from Lavando and Shokrian Vineyards.  Lavando is a small vineyard that is planted at a friends ranch just outside the Ballard Canyon AVA.  Shokrian is in Los Alamos and is owned by Babak Shokrian and was previously Verna’s Vineyard, owned by Melville.  This vineyard sits across the road from White Hawk Vineyard on Cat Canyon Road.  So there is a bit of distance between where the fruit grew.  The fruit came from hillside blocks together give this wine an earthy fruit quality, that is very food friendly.

$32.00

This tasting room is not on Grand Avenue, the main road in town, but is a block over on the main cross street Alamo Pintado.  If you find your self at the flagpole, head east on Alamo Pintado (past Panino) and cross San Marcos Ave.  It will be on your left past Blair Fox Cellars.  It is well worth the stroll to the outer edges of the town.  If you are hungry after your tasting, I recommend the Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Cafe, where they often serve Crawford Family Wines by the glass.

Celebration of Harvest Weekend which is coming up September 29th through October 1st, is a great opportunity to taste a variety of the amazing wines from this area and get to meet some of the winemakers.  There is so much to this amazing area you could spend weeks here and not see it all (trust me, we’ve tried).  So take the weekend and learn about this amazing wine region that is practically in LA’s backyard.  There are beautiful wines being made here and there is something for everyone.

You can find out more on the Santa Barbara Vintners Celebration of Harvest site, where you can see the entire schedule for the weekend, buy tickets for the events and purchase your passport for the weekend.

And be sure to stop back here!  We look forward to sharing with you all of our adventures during the Celebration of Harvest.

Keep up to date on all of our posts by following us on Crushed Grape Chronicles  .  You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

 

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Is a Rosé just a Rosé?

Rosé, it’s a pink wine. We talked about how you make it in Rosé Season – Rosé Basics.  But there is so much more to it.  Rosé is a color of wine, just like red wine and white wine.  So what about the difference in the grapes that you use to make it and where you grow those grapes?

Rosé can be made from any red grape, and while the intensity of the flavor differs from red wine, as the juice does not spend as much time on the skins or “must”, different grape varieties do impart different flavors and of course the terroir (soil and climate) affects flavor also.

On a simple level a Grenache rosé will be typically bright and fruity, a Syrah rosé will be more savory and a Mourvedre rosé will be fruity and floral.  Of course that is just dipping into the differences in Rhone variety rosés.  Rosés are as diverse as the grapes, areas and winemakers who make them.  Let’s delve a little deeper.

Vin Gris

Sometimes you will hear Rosé referred to as “Vin Gris”.  This translate as “grey wine” which is not very sexy.  The idea here is that you are using a red grape to make a white wine.  In this case there is VERY little contact with the skins so that often the juice comes out clear. (this of Blanc de Noir Champagne, made with pinot noir, but without any pink tint).  There is also “Gris de Gris” which is made only from the lighter colored red grapes Cinsault, Gamay & Grenache.

Off Dry Rosé

We mentioned before “white zinfandel” which gave rosé a bad name for a while.  White Zin is an off dry style of rosé.  Off dry indicates that there is residual sugar (rs).  So when the wine is fermented, fermentation is stopped before the yeast has eaten off all of the sugar, so there are “residual sugars” left in the wine.  This is where you get all sweet wines.  You see this term “Off dry” often used in Champagnes or sparkling wines.  If you enjoy a little sweetness in your wine, or have a pairing that calls for it, you can go with an “off dry” rosé, these include: blush wine, white merlot, white zinfandel, Rosé D’Anjou and Garnacha Rosado.

Rosé D’Anjou

This is an Off Dry Rosé from the Loire Valley made primarily from Grolleau.  “Grolle”  means “crow” in french and this grape is said to be named for it’s deep dark color.  This wine has it’s own AOC, Rosé D’Anjou AOC in the Anjou district of the Loire Valley. Small percentages of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Gamay, Malbec and Pineau d”Aunis are allowed.  Close by you will also find Cabernet D’Anjou & Cabernet de Saumur which are also slightly sweet rosés.  These wines while slightly sweet have bright acids which makes them refreshing and have aromas of strawberry, gooseberry, white pepper and roses with mint.

Garnacha Rosado

Garnacha is the Spanish version of Grenache, a well known grape in France for Rosé.  Of course it’s warmer in Spain than in France so the fruit tends to be a little riper and you often a deeper color in these wines.  They are often a little sweet, but can also be found in a drier style.

Dry Rosé

Dry Rosés will not have that sweetness.  In these wines all of the sugar has been eaten off by the yeast.  These wines typically fall into two camps flavor wise:  Fruit/Floral and Herbal/Savory

Fruit and/or Floral Rosé

These include: Tavel, Rosado, Sangiovese Rosé, Provençe Rosé, Grenache Rosé and Pinot Noir Rosé.  Rosado is a Spanish Rose, Grenache, Sangiovese and Pinot Noir Rosés are pretty self explanatory.

Provençe Rosé

If there is one region more known for rosé than any other, it would be Provençe. They are serious about their rosé here.  Half of the production in Provençe is Rosé. These rosés are typically Grenache and cinsault, but with a little mourvèdre and syrah.

Provençe conjures up visions of fields of lavender and sunflowers. Sitting on the Mediterranean coast, the area is sundrenched with warm days and cool evenings.  The “Mistral” winds which top at over 90 kilometers an hour are certainly not a breeze, but are credited with making these wines so delicious, by keeping away cloud cover, keeping temperatures from shifting to hot or too cold and preventing grape rot.

The largest AOC in this region is the Côtes de Provençe.  It produces 75% of the wine in the region of which a whopping 89% is Rosé.

For more on the wines of Provençe visit Provencewineusa.com

Tavel Rosé

Tavel Rosé was Hemingway’s wine of choice often drinking it exclusively on trips in France. This has been called “the thinking drinkers rosé”.  The Rosés are darker and higher in alcohol (so little wonder that Hemingway liked it!). They must be between 11% and 13.5% alcohol and most typically bump up against that upper limit.

Tavel is a region in Rhone, that only makes Rosé. Grenache is the base for all Tavel wine.  Grenache, Cinsault, Bourboulenc, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Picpoul and Clairette  are the main grape varieties but no single variety can be more than 60% of a vineyard.  Carignan and Calitor Noir may also be planted but cannot make up more than 10% of the planting.

This area is on the right-bank of the Rhone around the city of Tavel.

For more info on Tavel visit rhone-wines.com

Herbal or Savory Rosé

These include: Bandol Rosé, Cabernet Franc Rosé, Syrah Rosé, and Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé. Again, the varietal Rosés are self explanatory and we will delve more into the flavors in our next post. But lets talk a little about Bandol.

Bandol Rosé

Bandol is located on the southern coast of France. Here they grow Mourvèdre.  This is within the larger region of Provençe, but is tucked on the coast between Maseille and Toulon.  The warm climate is perfect for the late harvesting Mourvèdre.  While other varieties are allowed Mourvèdre must account for 50% of the Rosé, although most producers use significantly more.  In addition Grenache and Cinsault are also used with Syrah and Carignan limited to 10% each.

Of course this is just the tip of the iceberg!  Just searching store shelves the other day we found Rosés from Italy, France, Oregon, Chile, Spain and California and we just picked up one from Virginia on a recent trip.  The changes in soil and climate and wine making styles make for an overwhelming variety of wines.

But now that we have a little of the lay of the land, stick with us as we get into the tasty stuff and  start to explore the different aroma’s and flavors in Rosé and then delve into what to pair with them!

So stop back here at Crushed Grape Chronicles.  You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Rosé Season – Rosé basics

Series of Rosés

It’s Rosé season.  Well at least in my humble opinion.  Rosé season starts for me when the first of the spring vegetables arrive and ends when the last watermelons of the season are gone, although I have been known to dip into rosés outside of that time.

It’s “cool” again to drink rosé.  There was a time when it wasn’t, when pink was not as cool.  It was the time after Sutter Home made everyone think that “White Zinfandel” was rosé, which it is…but it’s just one type of rosé, and a sweeter style.  But now…rosé with bubbles are all the rage at the clubs and even those of us who are not quite that cool are diving back into the pink.  This year rosés are lining the shelves at stores.

There is a wide range of rosés from those that are delicately pink like tree blossoms in early spring, to those that lean more toward the tones of smoked salmon, or the desert tones of red rocks.  Some lend themselves more richly to the color of strawberries.  Regardless, there is a wide variety and lots to cover.

So this year, with all the Rosé hype, I thought I would delve deep into Rosé.  And as I delve, I will share my insights and discoveries.  For today, we will start out with a little history and the basics of what Rosé is.  Let’s start with what Rosé is, because that is going to play into the history.

How Rosé is made

The basics:

A Rosé is a wine made from red grapes where the skin does not stay in contact with the juice for very long, so it is “pink” or “rose” in color.

There are a couple of different ways to do this:

Limited Skin Maceration

The grapes are crushed and left in contact with the skin for a short time.  This is called “maceration”.   The longer the juice is left on the skin, the darker the color.  Then the juice is drained from the skins or the “must” and begins the fermentation process.

Saignée method

Saignée is “bleeding” in French.  This is the efficient wine makers method of making a rose.  Here some of the juice is bled off of the tank as the wine begins to macerate.  This allows the wine that is macerating to be more concentrated and the juice that has been “bled off” to become rosé.

Blending

This is the method used to make  most rosé Champagne.  In this method a still white wine is blended with 5% to 20% red Champagne wine.  The red wine will be made in a way that minimizes tannins.

A little Rosé history

So most early wines were rosés.  Early wines were made by squishing the grapes and draining the juice.  “Maceration” was not really thought of.  So if any of the grapes were red, you ended up with a rosé.  These wines of course had fewer tannins so they were very pleasant.  Into the middle ages they enjoyed a light pink claret and thought color to be significant to quality.  The darker the wine the lower the quality, and the more tannins which would impart that dryness and bitterness to the wines.

Rosé of Syrah

A rich deeply colored Rosé of Syrah

Early Champagne was also rosé, since is was mostly made from Pinot Noir and would have been lightly colored by the skins.  It was much later that “Blanc de Blancs” became the norm for Champagne.

We are just getting started.  Come back for more conversations on the different grapes for rosé and how the variety and length of maceration can influence the flavors of rosé.  And then of course, we will talk about what to pair with your rosé.

So stop back here at Crushed Grape Chronicles.  You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

 

 

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Santa Barbara Wines with Savory Spring Tarts

Santa Barbara Wine Tasting

 

Savory Spring Tarts….you are questioning what that means, but your mouth is watering anyway.  You can find the details on 4Farm2Mrkt. Of course we needed to do wine pairings so you get those here. We had 3 different types of tarts and I ended up choosing 4 different wines to taste with them. All of these wines ended up being Santa Barbara Wines. So, here we go… Let’s start with the video, then after the jump you can read the details!

Tercero 2013 Rosé.

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This is a Mourvedre Rose made by Larry Schaffer of Tercero. We met Larry at the Wine Bloggers Conference in 2014. He is fascinating and were lucky enough to speak with him in his tasting room earlier this year. Watch for the video interview which covers a WIDE range of subjects!
Larry’s tasting room is in Los Olivos and it is off the beaten path with the entrance on San Marcos St. They don’t have tasting notes here, but rather encourage you to see what you find in the wines.
Larry loves Rhones and is the president of the local Rhone Rangers Chapter, so a Mourvedre Rosé is right up his alley. These grapes come from the Vogelzang Vineyard in Happy Canyon. Larry foot stomps all of his grapes. (I think it’s a great way for him to expend some of his extra energy, because this gentleman has quite a bit!).
This is a rosé with depth. After a slow cool fermentation he puts it in French oak for 3 ½ months. It’s older French Oak so on the neutral side, but he says the wine develops some “funk” while there. I Love This Wine!

Grassini 2012 Sauvignon Blanc

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We met Katie Grassini a little over a year ago, in the Stunning Grassini tasting room in Santa Barbara’s El Paseo. Their family vineyard is in Happy Canyon which is on the Eastern end of the Santa Ynez Valley. The warmer climate here (the temperature rises by a degree each mile from the ocean in the Santa Ynez Valley) is perfect for Bordeaux varieties. They do high density farming of Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet, Cabernet Franc, Merlot & Petit Verdot. You will find “Grassini Vineyard” on many Sauvignon Blancs around the valley, their fruit is coveted by many winemakers. Their beautiful Sauvignon Blanc is whole cluster pressed and fermented primarily in Stainless steel, with a portion of it going into neutral oak puncheons.
This wine is bright without being too tart and is well rounded in your mouth.

Jamie Slone 2013 Aloysius Chardonnay

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Jamie Slone Wines is also in the El Paseo of Santa Barbara. His winemaker is Doug Margerum, but Jamie is very involved in the process. The day we stopped in, Jamie himself was behind the bar pouring and as it was early in the day, we were able to monopolize his time and hear many great stories. This Chardonnay “Aloysius” (pronounced alowishes) is named for his wife Kym’s late father. The grapes come from the Sierra Madre Vineyard in Santa Maria. This is a beautiful well rounded wine with just a touch of oak.

Anacapa Vintners 2010 Santa Maria Pinot Noir

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Anacapa Vintners, otherwise known as AVA Santa Barbara, The Valley Project, is a project by Seth Kunin of Kunin Wines. It explores the Santa Barbara area and looks at how the wines differ in the various AVA’s.
This wine is a pinot noir from the Santa Maria Valley which is in the northern part of Santa Barbara County. This was actually the 3rd AVA in the United States. The temperature rarely gets over 75 degrees and the growing season here is long making it perfect for Pinot Noir.
This Pinot had a bit of funk on the nose and I liked it! There were only 243 Cases of this wine produced.
If you find yourself in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone this is a “Don’t Miss” stop. The tasting room features a large Elkpen mural of the Santa Barbara Region which describes the climate and soils. As they pour your tasting, they will pull out soil samples so you can see what the different soil types are around the area. It is really an incredible educational experience, WITH WINE! What could be better?

Now to the pairings

 

The Strawberry Balsamic Tart we tasted with the Rose, the Sav Blanc and the Pinot Noir. I liked it best with the Rose. The earthiness of the wine, lent itself to the depth of the balsamic with the onions.

The Arugula Tart was meant to pair with the Rose and the Sauvignon Blanc, but it ended up working nicely with everything. Of course the natural pairing is with the Sav Blanc because of the herbs and goat cheese and indeed that was my favorite pairing, but surprisingly it went very well with the Aloysius Chardonnay by Jamie Slone. This wine is bright and tart and Michael liked it very much with the Arugula tart.

The Potato and Tarragon Tart is what I had opened the Chardonnay for and it did indeed pair well. The Pinot Noir also went well with the tarragon on the potatoes.

The lesson?

Suggested pairings are a great place to begin. But wines are individual and some of the nuances may surprise you and lead you to unexpected pairings. Don’t fight it! Give in to the experimentation!

 

To learn more about Santa Barbara Wines, visit the Santa Barbara Vintners site.

And for more great recipes for fresh farmer market produce visit 4farm2mrkt.com

Guilty pleasures…

Espiral Vinho Rose

Michael was working and it was my night off.  Now I love a good bottle of wine, but I would feel really guilty about opening a nice bottle without Michael, so… while shopping at Trader Joe’s I picked up a bottle of Espiral Vinho Rose.  This wine is $4.99. I also picked up some middle eastern flatbread and some tomato basil hummus.  I opened the bottle and got curled up on the coach for some mindless TV and some reading on the iPad.  I did some blog reading (about how those of us reading wine blogs appear to all be wine bloggers and a great WS post from Matt Kramer on the variety of types of wine lovers).

This wine is simple and festive, a wine to be easily enjoyed and poured liberally.   I actually think this wine is better in a tumbler than a wine glass. This is perfect for hot days, the minerality is refreshing and the effervescence cooling.  So go ahead, pour it in a big heavy tumbler and toss some ice in if it’s really hot!  This wine is carefree without being silly, pleasant and unpretentious.  I’ve read reviews of people who love it and people who hate it.  Some call it sweet…I get much more minerality and not much sweetness.  You may love it, you may hate it…that’s wine for you.  It was perfect for my evening.   Come to think of it…I don’t feel guilty after all!

Municipal Winemakers and the “Funk Zone” wineries

Life is Better with Wine

I have wanted to visit Municipal Winemakers for a while.  We stopped in on our last trip through Santa Barbara a year and a half ago only to find that they were sold out and had no wines to taste!  Well, if you are going to have a problem in the wine industry, I think that is the one to have.  As we planned another trip through the area I did more research on the winery.

Municipal Winemakers, Santa Barbara

Municipal Winemakers, Santa Barbara

They are kitschy, located in The Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail’s “Funk Zone”.  Their winemaker Dave Potter wants to get the wine to the people.  He loves making wine and meeting people who want to drink his wine.  Distributors and sales…that creates the distance between the grape and the glass and takes some of the heart out of the process.  So…Dave makes his wines and sells them in his tasting room.  Small lots, high quality and it’s working if he is selling out before he can release another vintage!

This is not your average wine tasting room.  Outside you have to see the sign on the sidewalk to realize that it is a tasting room, otherwise it looks like an old dive shop near the beach in Santa Barbara.  There are picnic tables set up in an area out front.  When you walk in you first notice the wall of stacked filing cabinets.

Municipal WineMakers, File Cabinet Wall

Municipal WineMakers, File Cabinet Wall

As we walked up for our tasting the person pouring pulled one drawer open and pulled out two glasses and oversized index card with a typed list of the tastings!

We tasted through the list, which included a dry, Riesling (Bright White), a Rose (Pale Pink), a Red Blend (Bright Red), a Pinot (Rita’s Crown Pinot Noir), a Cab and a sweeter Riesling (Sweetness).  The bottles have great labels and each bottle has a bottle number listed.  The rose was Grenache, Cinsault and Counoise and the “Bright Red” which I really enjoyed was the same blend with Syrah.  The Bright Red was light on the palate but with big flavor.  They do also have a “Wine Fountain” where they serve wine by the glass or in 1 liter refillable bottles.

We walked the neighborhood enjoying some more of the “Funk Zone” before heading up State Street.  Next door there is an old red phone box labeled “Book Exchange” and filled with books.  I had seen these on Facebook, but this was the first I had seen close up!  Need a book, take a book, done with a book, leave it!  It is a great concept!  Lots of other wineries have tasting rooms in the area.  Anacapa Vineyards is not even listed yet, they are so new!  They have a beautiful tasting room with big windows and chalkboards on the walls filled with all kinds of interesting information on their grapes and wines.  It is a regular wine education classroom!

Oreana Winery

Oreana Winery

Oreana Winery up the street has old trucks painted with their logo out front and a juke box in the garage that is part of their barrel room.  Pali, which is next to Anacapa, has lots of windows and a patio on the side.  Santa Barbara Winery sits in a white washed building covered in vines.  In addition to the wineries listed on the Urban Wine Trail site, there are more popping up all the time.  We saw a side door on a building that said “Drake”.  This new little tasting room evidently recently opened.  When we were later at Sculpterra in Paso, the person pouring for us said his friend had just opened that tasting room (the wine world is a small world).

While we only had time to taste at Municipal, we will happily return to spend a day or two tasting in the area and enjoying the beach.  There are around 11 tasting rooms in “The Funk Zone” and another 9 or 10 within the downtown area, including Conway’s Deep Sea Tasting room out on Stearns Wharf.

For now…we were off to take a stroll up State Street and find Au Bon Climat (or ABC as it seems to be known here).

Miramonte, 3.0

Miramonte WInery

 

Miramonte.  What can I say they have created a stunning atmosphere.  Michael got hooked on their Sangria the first time we stopped by and we both fell in love with the artistic atmosphere.  Since our last visit they have expanded the patio and added some wonderful cheese and charcuterie platters.

Miramonte charcuterrie platter

Miramonte charcuterrie platter

These are not cheese and sausage plates.  These are stunning natural wood boards filled with artisan cheeses, meats, fruits, nuts, dips, olives…  So as we were a little hungry we headed over a little early for the evenings music on the patio.  We did a tasting and ordered a charcuterie platter and when it was ready headed out to procure a couch with a heater on the patio. The Picture is taken outside lit by firelight.  The bar on the patio was opening so we could get our tasting there.  After finding a spot and indulging in our charcuterie we were joined by the Miramonte host Mojo.  We met Mojo on our last visit and he was but a puppy then, he has grown quite a bit.  Over the course of the evening, between greeting guests on arrival, he came and curled up in the couch across from us for a little rest (being a host is hard work). It was getting a little chilly and the talent for the night showed up (and threw a little diva fit as he entered the patio with his gear).  With the cold and the complaining talent they moved the music inside.  Unfortunately, all the seats inside were full by now and we did leave early.  But it was a lovely evening regardless.  The wine here is good, the atmosphere stunning with a spectacular view.  We did of course snap some photos.  This place doesn’t take a bad photo.  Enjoy!

Baily Vineyard and Winery – Wines worth stopping for

Baily Vineyards Sign

We have been to Temecula several times and I have done lots of research on the area and one of the wineries that our radar just kept missing was Baily.  As you drive on Rancho California Road from Temecula it is on the left  just past Europa Village.

Baily Tasting room

Baily Tasting room

The grey stone building is dotted with vines and houses the tasting room as well as Carol’s restaurant.  This is one of Temecula’s oldest wineries and produces all Estate grown wines.

Baily Vineyards lion sculpture

Baily Vineyards lion sculpture

Walking in you notice the sculptures, the angels and gargoyles and then walking into the restaurant are greeted by a big warm fireplace, suits of armor and tapestries.  It’s a little medieval.  They also have a patio outside for al fresco dining, but the fire looked much better to us on this slightly chilly day.  I had a lovely Sangiovese rose with lunch.  They have Dog Day Sundays where they encourage you to bring your well-behaved pooch to enjoy lunch on the patio. They have music as well as a doggie menu!  Decorated for the holidays the tree was up and some of the gargoyles were wearing Santa hats.  They have a small stage in here for music. After lunch by the fire we headed into the tasting room.

I had no expectations here.  I had read brief descriptions on their website and other than that all I knew was that they had been producing wines here for 25 years.  We were welcomed to the tasting room and Bill took care of our tasting. Bill is full of great information on the Temecula Valley and the winery so we chatted it up during our tasting.

The Baily’s bought this property in 1982 and they mostly grow reds.  All the grapes are estate grown and their wines tend to be dry. They produce about 5,000 cases each year.  They do age in small oak barrels typically for 30 months which is a pretty long time.  The wines were smooth and well-balanced without being fruit bombs or being over-oaked. We tasted the 2010 Montage which is 56% Sauvignon Blanc and 44% Semillon.  This medium bodied white wine was rounded on the palate with a nose of lemon and lime and crisp granny smith apple.  This had been used in my pasta sauce at lunch and was very nice.  The Malbec is from newer self rooted vines planted in 2004.  This wine gave you berries with deep flavor and a long finish.  The 2009 Cabernet Franc was long and smooth and very well-balanced.   Lighter than most Cabernet Francs it had a hint of chocolate.  The 2009 Merlot was especially good and with a $20 price tag is a steal. The atmosphere the information and the wines will definitely bring me back here.  We will also try to stop by their other restaurants downtown.  Their son and daughter in law run Baily’s Elegant Dining and the Front Street Bar & Grill in Old Town.

So put Baily on your radar, these are wines worth stopping for.

 

In Vino Veritas, A Long and Winding Adventure

Veritas was another winery that Kathy recommended.  Located in Afton not far from 64 this winery is a stunning location for an event.  The winding roads going in made us grateful for the driver.  The tasting room is big and boldly designed in contrast to the white washed farmhouse looking exterior.  The flower baskets in bloom hanging on the porch speak of a simplicity that disappears when you enter the tasting room.    We peeked into the back event room which is tented in silky white fabric for weddings.

Verias Wedding Room

The tasting room opens up 2 stories with a large hanging cork sculpture that reads “LOVE” above the tasting bar.  There is also an elegant (while large) glass sculpture that graces the center of the tasting bar.  There are large leather couches to sit in and enjoy a glass if you like.

Here we tasted 8 wines beginning with the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc.  This Sav Blanc was clean and not too tart and I enjoyed it.   It boasts a little minerality alongside the grapefruit and lemongrass.

Next we tasted the 2011 Saddleback Chardonnay.  Modeled after the french Chablis they ferment this in stainless steel and then put it into neutral French oak for 4 months.

Their Viognier was lovely as I have found most Virginia Viogniers to be.

The White Star is a fascinating blend of Viognier, Traminette (which was a new varietal to me), Chardonnay and Vidal Blanc (again new to me).  This is a simple fun white blend.

The 2011 Rose was very nice.  This almost salmon colored Rose is Cab Franc & Merlot.  Again a fun rose.  Fun enough that they are shipping me a bottle.

The 2011 Cab Franc was my favorite.  It has a smokiness that I am a complete sucker for.  It is tart with low tannins with a lighter than usual mouth feel for a  Cab Franc due to the late rains of the 2011 season.  Still this easy drinking Cab Franc was on my list to take home.

Love Bar, Veritas Winery in Virginia

The 2010 Vintner’s Reserve is a blend of 42% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc, 25% Petit Verdot and 16% Cabernet Sauvignon.  It is barrel aged so you get vanilla, caramel and mocha as well as black fruits and a little hit of tobacco.  Kathy & Lisa picked up a few of these.  As much as I enjoyed this wine, I was still more enamored by the Cab Franc. Perhaps because of the difference in price ($18 to $35).

The final wine that we tasted is their most popular red blend called the Red Star.  It is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Chambourcin (again a new varietal for me).  This is an easy drinking lighter bodied red.  Very easy drinking.

After our tasting we had a little time before the car service was due to return us to our hotel, so we grabbed a bottle of the Vintner’s Reserve and headed out to the patio to enjoy the company the wine and the view.

Over the course of the day we had asked about other local vineyards and one name popped up consistently Pollak.  This is a newer winery but everyone mentioned it.  So they either have great wine or a great marketing team or perhaps both.  It will be on my list for my next trip.

It was a wonderful trip, but I feel like I have just scratched the surface of wines in Virginia.  This state has sooo.. many varietals that I have not explored and I am deeply regretting not having an opportunity to taste some Norton.

 

King Family Vineyards, Crozet Virginia

From Pippin Hill Farm we headed to King Family Vineyards in Crozet.  As we headed out our driver pointed out that our last vineyard was actually closer, but…we had checked the times and the last vineyard was open the latest, so off to King Family Vineyards we went.

This vineyard is family owned and a smaller and more intimate winery.  After the fact I saw that they have a gallery with art showings!  We were so busy with the wine that I missed that while we were there.  The are also known for their Polo matches

Kings-Family-Polo

which begin each year on Memorial Day weekend.The tasting room has a 3 sided bar. The girl who was pouring for us was very knowledgable and was getting ready to graduate with a nursing degree.  When we asked how she came to work here, she said she loved their Chardonnay and would come here, get a glass and study on the porch.  They saw her so often they finally offered her a job.  She really loves the wine and the winery and was passionate about sharing information on the grapes, the vineyards and the vintages.  She began with trying to speak to all of us around the bar who began the tasting together, so as to not leave anyone waiting and give us all great information.  Of course as we began tasting we were all at a different pace, so she broke off to give attention to the individual groups.  She was indeed working the entire bar by herself, but never left us waiting too long and was always happy to provide information.

 

My friend Kathy had recommended this vineyard from a previous trip and she loves their Chardonnay.  Evidently lots of people do because they were sold out and the next vintage doesn’t come out until July!  They did however have a lovely white blend that we tried called Roseland.  Roseland is 60% Chardonnay and 40% Viognier.  40% of the volume is aged in oak so you get a butteriness that is not overpowering mixed with the peach and honeysuckle from the Viognier and a little lemongrass.  Even with the oak it has a clean finish.

Next we tasted the Crose.  This is a 100% Merlot Dry rose and a play on the name of their city.  Lots of tart grapefruit on this one with red fruits coming through.  It is bright crisp and fun.

Their 2010 Merlot was lovely with mocha, deep cherry and wet stone.  Very enjoyable and this one will just get better.

The 2010 Meritage is 43% Merlot, 27% Petit Verdot, 22% Cab Franc and 8% Malbec.  This wine is bright and young.  It had just recently been bottled.  You could see it’s potential, but I think it needs a little more time before drinking.

The 2009 Seven is a fortified wine in the port style.  It is 100% Merlot.  While it sits at 18% alcohol it does not feel hot on the palate.  It does however evaporate faster than almost anything I have ever put in my mouth.  With a bit of dark chocolate this could be lovely for after dinner.

 

King-Family-patio

The final wine we tasted was the 2010 Loreley which is 50% each Viognier and Petit Manseng.  This late harvest wine is fermented and aged in the barrel.  Sweet without being cloying it would again be nice after dinner.   We looked at our watches and knew we had to head out to our final stop of the day at Veritas.