Provence in the City
by Michelle Kwan
Crisp, chilled rosé is commonly considered to be a warm weather drink, but that didn’t stop Provençal rosés from coming to New York City early this year. To be precise, they arrived ten days before spring at Lafayette restaurant in NoHo on an overcast Monday in March. This year’s “Provence in the City” tasting and seminar featured more than 60 different wines. Six were paired with four Provençal-influenced courses from Lafayette.
With a winemaking history going back more than two millennia, Provence is the oldest wine region in France and the country’s premier producer of rosés. As the popularity of dry rosé has steadily increased over the past decade, Provençal rosé has begun breaking into new markets in Asia and South America. The refreshing character of this versatile wine and its balanced acidity has helped it gain worldwide acceptance in both the wine industry and among the wine-imbibing public.
Commonly made from red grape varietals like Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Cinsault, rosés from Provence are typically pale pink in color, crisp and full of fruit, with a clean finish. Their characteristic pink hue is created by limiting the time during which the juice remains in contact with the grape skins during fermentation.
Among the wines I tasted at “Provence in the City,” the Château Vignelaure from Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Grenache, had pronounced acidity, a delicate floral bouquet and lush berry notes. The Cuvée Speciale des Vignettes Cru Classé from Clos Cibonne demonstrated characteristics not usually associated with rosés from Provence, including a considerably darker red tint and notes of vanilla and bark.
While rosés can certainly be enjoyed on their own, they become truly memorable when paired with food. Among the lunch pairings was the soft and round-bodied Cuvée Minotaure, made from old-vine Grenache and Cinsault, whose hints of chamomile and ripe summer fruits complemented a seafood salad of poached calamari, shrimp, mussels and chick peas in a zesty herb marinade. The lovely and fragrant Les Abeillons from Château Thuerry, another Grenache and Cinsault blend, exhibited notes of apple, pear and citrus fruit that paired well with a steamed filet of halibut in a lemon verbena and spring pea broth. As a sweet ending to a delightful afternoon of enjoying “Provence in the City,” we were bid farewell with an array of colorful macaroons.
For more information, visit the Wines of Provence website
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