“Think Pink”: Rose from Provence, Domaine Tempier
Rose wines are hotter than ever this year. I know, I know, every year you hear it but it never seems to actually be that prevalent. Not this year! I have been to quite a few wine shops around the NYC area and have noticed “pink” displays in the windows and at the ends of many shops’ aisles highlighting this great style of wine from so many different areas. The most popular and world renowned Rose is from France. The benchmark for roses, are those from Provence. Spain, Italy, the US, South America and Australia are prominent pink purveyors as well.
Now, let’s just make one thing clear – “traditional” Rose wine is NOT SWEET. New world version may have a little more upfront fruit, but they lack any residual sugar that makes any wine sweet. Old world Provencal Rose is bone dry with floral, herbal and fruit aromas, framed by refreshing acidity. A good Rose has qualities of both a red and white wine. It will have body and texture like a red and the bracing and refreshing acidity of a white wine. Flavors are wide ranging from both sides of the wine color spectrum, red and white, as well as flavors found only in a rose.
This is NOT white zinfandel, the adult “Kool-Aid” concocted by the folks at Sutter Home which gets its sweetness from the residual sugar in the wine. Residual sugar is the leftover sugar not fermented during the process of making the wine and not removed – yes that’s right, they don’t ferment it fully. One more thing, it also has less alcohol for what that’s worth as less sugar is converted to alcohol. There is nothing wrong with saying you once had it; many have had it as a bridge to wine from beer and spirits. So long as you eventually learned about the rest of the world of wine, its ok, not everyone can start out with Mouton Rothschild! Let’s face it, Americans are raised on sweet sugary sodas, juices, and milk with dinner from birth. It’s only natural as you move away from that as a young adult you are inclined to be more familiar with a sweeter wine, it’s more palatable and bridges the soda to wine a lot easier. Maybe that’s the reason for the explosion in super-ripe wines in this country as wine consumption is at an all time high? Enough of that for now, that will take a whole other blog to go through. Onto the feature winery and wines.
Domaine Tempier (http://www.domainetempier.com/) located in Bandol (AOC), which is in Provence between Marseilles and Toulon on the Mediterranean, is the modern day benchmark for premium rose wine. Bandol has made wine for centuries, but started to really hit its stride in the mid-20th century when pioneers like Lucien Peyraud championed Mourvedre wines. Lucien married Lucie Tempier and together in 1940 took over at Domaine Tempier and made it into the modern version we know today. Most wines at this estate are made of the grape Mourvedre. In fact red wines with the name Bandol on the label by law must contain 50% Mourvedre in the blend. Therefore, all of the rouge or red wines from this estate and others in Bandol are more than half Mourvedre, with Cinsault, Syrah and Grenache some of the remaining components. The more Mourvedre, the better the Bandol wine is thought to be. The amazing thing about the Mourvedre grape is it is unique from any other red grape in that it has a natural compound that resists oxidation. Tempier wines can age for 50 plus years, some well over 100 years. It’s not uncommon to have a 30 year old Tempier Rose and the wine is in a perfect stage of growth, many times much livelier than one would think a rose of this age would be.
Pink and copper in color. Creamy and spicy aromas abound in the wines bouquet. Surprisingly lighter acidity than I would have thought. Rounder and creamier with cherry and fig flavors. The fig was at first odd as I was not expecting it and never had tasted anything like that. It took a while to pin that flavor down, but man it was worth it. The mouth feel was viscous and complex; you knew you had a wine of structure and flavor. The finish was supple and smooth, with refreshing red fruits, spice and a little honey/waxy feel from that fig. The wine is a blend of Mourvedre, Grenache, Cinsault and Carignane.
Deeper in pink with a copper hue, the 2006 was just as excellent. The acidity was a little more prevalent, but nothing you would notice without thinking about it – quite refreshing. The nose was creamy but had more red fruit like strawberry and a touch of spice. Red fruits like cherry and strawberry filled the mouth. The finish was a little flashier than the 2005 with spice and red fruits. Also a blend of Mourvedre, Grenache, Cinsault and Carignane.
Pick up a rose this summer and you won’t regret it! Many Rose can be had for $10-15!