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20th June 2014

Provenance: Provence

I had the pleasure to present a tasting of Provence wines for a company at the Cannes Lions media festival on Wednesday.
In the very swanky surroundings of the Hotel Majestic Barrière, which is immediately opposite the Palais de Congres on the Croisette, I had to squeeze past two Ferraris to get through the door.

The wines had to come from the hotel’s wine list, which is short but well chosen. I was able to pick four in total, so I went for one white, two rosés and a red. They all showed well.

Château Gassier "946" Côtes de Provence Sainte Victoire Blanc 2012
Nestling in 40 hectares of vines at the foot of the Mount Sainte-Victoire and just a few kilometres from Aix en Provence, Gassier occupies a privileged position at the crossing of the three Provence appellations, including Côtes de Provence Sainte Victoire – the rock massif so beguilingly painted by Cezanne (more than 80 times, and by others including Picasso and Kandinsky). This is their top white cuvée, and a blend of Rolle (Vermentino) and Ugni Blanc (Trebbiano). The wine has a richness of texture and depth of flavour that more accurately represent the winemaking and price, than they do the natural characters of the two varieties involved. Very ripe grapes have produced a lush wine, touched by oak and with a honeyed, creamy texture. Delicious.



Château Sainte Roseline Côtes de Provence Rosé 2013
In 2007, Aurélie Bertin Teillaud took over management of this beautiful estate at the Abbaye Sainte Roseline. Much investment in both the vineyards and buildings since has produced one of Provence’s landmark winery destinations. The vineyards are farmed without any recourse to artificial fertilisers or pesticides. This rosé is the characteristic ‘assemblage’ (blend) of Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvèdre, Tibouren, Syrah and Rolle. Very pale and orangey in colour (indicative of a high percentage of Grenache), this is delicate and strawberryish, with a leafy touch but no bitterness from the skins. Well made and light.

Domaine Sorin Bandol Rosé 2013
An exciting small property (12 hectares) farmed entirely organically in the heart of the esteemed Bandol Appellation. Here the Rosés (and reds) are made in the main from Mourvèdre (65% here with 35% Grenache), which gives a sturdier, more structured depth of flavour. The colour is deeper and more red than the above, too, but the wine is excellent. The extra depth of flavour is exactly what is required for a flavoursome dish, such as the local bouillabaisse, or something more trendy like tuna with wasabi and soy. No wonder that Robert parker said this “Luc Sorin is one of the most exciting winegrowers the South of France has to offer… A wine of exceptional quality to be bought now before the price goes up.”

La Chapelle Gordonne Côtes de Provence Rouge 2009
On the schistous soils of the Pierrefeu part of the appellation. In fact from 2014 this area has its own appellation Côtes de Provence Pierrefeu.
Château La Gordonne is a unique property in Provence, covering a contiguous area with some 300 hectares of vineyard planted on an exceptional, seaward-facing amphitheatre of shale. Here black varieties perform particularly well, making for some of Provence’s better red wines. In this case the blend is 75% Syrah and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, from their cooler, higher altitude vineyards. Far better to make reds in Provence from dedicated varieties rather than risking the raisiny, soupy qualities of over-ripe Grenache and Cinsault.

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