Archive for May, 2014

Discover the Dry Rose Wines of Provence this Summer

May 23rd, 2014 No comments

Discover the Dry Rose Wines of Provence this Summer

The dry, floral, refreshing roses that hail from Provence have about as much in common with those California wines as a Cabernet has with a glass of icewine.

About the roses of Provence

The Romans brought wine-making to Provence before the birth of Christ, and the region has been carrying on this tradition for more than 2,500 years. Today, Provence crafts more than 1,000 different wines, with rose wines accounting for more than half of the region’s production. In fact, Provence is the world’s leading producer of dry, rose wines.

Leading government-controlled wine place names (AOC) in Provence include Cotes de Provences, Coteauxd’Aix-en-Provence and Bandol. Traditionally, rose wines from these regions have been made by blending Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault and Carignan grapes, although more modern winemakers have begun to use Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah grapes in the mix. Roses from Provence are virtually made from blending the juice of several grapes and are easily recognized by their bowling pin-shaped bottles.

Unlike rose wines from other parts of the world, Provencal roses are very dry, with slight hints of strawberries, red currants, lavender and thyme. Provencal roses may be vintage or non-vintage wines.

Pairing Provence roses with food

Rose wines from Provence are a perfect accompaniment to many summer favorites. These wines go well with shrimp and other seafood, cold pasta salads, and garlic-based dishes, such as the “aioli” that’s a hallmark of Provencal cuisine. The acidity in Provencal roses also make such wines a good choice for drinking with notoriously difficult to pair ethnic foods, such as Thai, Indian, Lebanese and Chinese.

When you go to the wine store

Many roses of Provence are exported to North America, most commonly the wines from the Bandol region. Depending on the tax situation in your state, expect to pay between $15 and $25 for a bottle of good Provencal rose. Look for the following highly-rated labels:

  •  Miraval Rose — Rated a 91/100 by “Decanter” magazine, Miraval rose is produced by Provence’s Miraval Winery, a joint venture between the French Perrin wine family and Hollywood A-listers including Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
  • Chateau d’Esclans Rose Whispering Angel — This Cotes de Provence rose earned a 90/100 rating from “Wine Spectator” magazine.

For more information on the wines of Provence, visit vins de, the official website (in English) of the the Provencal wine producing regions.

Biodynamic Wine Production: Fad or Fabulous?

biodynamic winery in sonoma

If you haven’t heard of biodynamic wine farming, you probably will in the near future. This agricultural philosophy, founded in 1924, is sweeping the wine growing community, from France to Australia, from the United States to Chile. In fact, some of the world’s most coveted wines are being produced using this method.

What is biodynamic agriculture?

Biodynamic agriculture takes organic farming one (or perhaps two) steps further. The theory, first expounded by Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, is based on the symmetry between the land and the plants. In this, biodynamics is similar to the French concept of “terroir” that maintains the flavor of a wine grape (and thus the wine made with it) is influenced by the soil and climate in which it is grown.

In addition to banning the use of chemicals and pesticides, biodynamic farming uses nine natural substances to enrich the soil, promote plant growth and boost the grape vines’ resistance to disease and pests. These substances include cow manure and quartz (which are buried in the ground inside of cow horns), dandelion leaves, chamomile, stinging nettles, yarrow flowers and oak bark.

Biodynamic farming uses the stages of the moon to guide planting, fertilizing and harvesting. Using the lunar calendar in farming isn’t a new concept. Such practices were used by Native American farmers for centuries.

Biodynamic wineries

This all may sound a little far-fetched, but this method of wine farming is being adopted by wineries all over the world, with astonishing–and often delicious–results. Some of the world’s major vineyards, including California’s Benzinger Estates, Burgundy’s Domaine Leroy and Domaine Zind Humbrecht in Alsace have adopted biodynamic farming. According to “Fortune” magazine, there are currently more than 450 biodynamic wineries around the globe.

What does this mean for the average wine consumer? In a word, it means taste. Although vintners and winemakers are at a loss to say way this practice works, the evidence is that biodynamic farming is producing superior wines to those produced using traditional methods. According to the “Fortune” article, biodynamically-produced wines were judged superior in several blind tastings to similar wines that were conventionally produced.

Though biodynamic farming is labor-intensive and only used by a relative handful of the world’s wineries, it’s a trend that merits watching. We predict now that you’ve heard this phrase, you’ll be noticing a lot more talk about biodynamic wines in the future.