Story and photos by Dwight Casimere
NEW YORK---For just a few brief hours, frigid Manhattan was turned into a sunny Mediterranean garden as the sun streamed through the glass-enclosed terrace of The Humphrey restaurant at the Eventi hotel in Midtown for an afternoon tasting, Provence in the City 2015, sponsored by the Provence Wine Council, representatives of France's oldest wine growing region.
"Provence is the birthplace of Rose' wine," Provence Wine Council President Jean-Jacques Breban told the gathering of wine journalists, sommeliers and trade members. "This is not the eye of some bird that you saw here in the states some years ago, but true rose' from the top AOP rose' region in France."
The wines of Provence, rose' in particular, are especially suited for spring. They are great for the Easter table because they go well with lamb or ham and seafood, chief among it, salmon.
France is the world's largest region specializing in Appellation d'Origine Protegee (AOP) rose wines. Growth in Provence exports has been exponential, particularly in the United States where consumption has increased by double digit rates for each of the past 11 years The thirst for premium rose' wine from French soil is insatiable.
With more than a hundred wines presented by 65 producers, participants were treated to a dazzling array of not only rose' wines, but brilliantly conceived whites and reds that showed the diversity of the Provence region.
The most common rose' grapes in Provence are Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Mourvedre, Tibouren, Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon. "Provence makes the quintessential rose, which is a very pale, pink color, and very dry. But we also produce some marvelous red and white wines that are very striking in their stylistic diversity," President Breban emphasized.
For all their finesse, the wines are surprisingly affordable. Most are in the $15-$40 range, and that includes the complex and flavorful reds. The most expensive wine there was the Rouge Fazioli from Chateau La Mascaronne 2011, which clocked in at about $40. I defy you to find a red wine from Bordeaux or Napa Valley with a comparable flavor profile for the same price!
One journalist attending the morning wine tasting symposium asked if Provence would ever produce a sweet rose' of the type recently promoted in the United States by producers seeking a younger, hipper wine drinking audience. "Never," Breban firmly stated. "We strive for 'typicity!'"
Chateau La Mascaronne Rouge Fazioli, a Syrah, Mouredre red blend