by Levi Reiss
Given the terrible Artic temperatures in our part of the world, I figured why not review a well-known rose wine from the Rhone Valley region of southeastern France.
This beautiful area ranks second in acreage of France’s eleven wine-growing regions. The region runs some 200 kilometers (125) miles along the Rhone River. The northern part is really narrow. Its major white variety is Viognier and major red grape variety is Syrah. This area produces some of the best red wines in all France, and if you ask partisans some of the world’s best red wines. But the north produces only about 5% of the total Rhone Valley production. Wine in the southern Rhone Valley tends to be blended. For example, the wine reviewed below comes from three different grapes.
Tavel Wine in the southern Rhone Valley
Tavel is a village of about 1500 people located near some great vineyards, not far from the cities of Avignon and Nimes, and an hour’s drive from the Mediterranean. But you don’t have to leave the village for interesting sights. Sights in the old town center include a Tenth Century Chapel (Saint-Ferreol), the village church and fountain, and the Chemin de la Condamine. There’s a vineyard route and you’re not far from the largest sundial in Europe. Just a bit of wine trivia; Tavel is the one French wine appellation that’s allowed to make only rose wine.
Before reviewing the Cotes du Rhone rose wine and imported cheeses that we were lucky enough to purchase at a local wine store and a local Italian food store, here are a few suggestions of what to eat with indigenous wines when touring this beautiful region. Start with Soupe aux Truffes Noires (Black Truffle Soup). For your second course savor Foie de Veau a la Lyonnaise (Veal Liver and Onions). And as dessert indulge yourself with Tarte aux Pralines (Praline Tart).
Wine review of Tavel, a Rhone Valley Rose wine
OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review are purchased at the full retail price.
Wine Reviewed Perrin & Fils Tavel Rose 2006 14% about $16.50
Let’s start by quoting the marketing materials. Tavel produces some of the richest, yet driest roses on the market. They work beautifully as a sipper and are quite adaptable to a variety of foods such as grilled chicken, sea-food salads, bouillabaisse or pork tenderloin. The Perrin 2006 vintage is a blend of 80% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre, and 10% Cinsault. And now for our review.
My first meal was centered on a middle-eastern dish known as kube, slow cooked ground meat placed in crushed bulgar jackets. This is rose. It was a great blend of acidity with a touch of sweetness. The wine lingered. It sort of bounced off the peppery sauce. When sipped on its own the Tavel was feathery. I felt it was something of an introduction to ambrosia.
My next meal involved a slow-cooked chicken leg with the skin on with a sauce made from soy sauce, garlic, cumin, and onion. The chicken was accompanied by potato patties. The wine was fruity with good acidity. It was light and yet oh so present. For dessert I had a French chocolate pie with a great flaky (lots of butter) crust. The rose managed to hold its own against the somewhat excessive sugar.
The final meal was an omelet perked up by anchovies and capers. The wine was long and fruity, undisturbed by the excessive salt. It became subtler when facing a fresh, acidic tomato.
The first cheese was an Emmenthaler (Swiss). The wine remained round and forceful, but something was lost. The second cheese was a rather gamy goat’s milk cheese from Poitou in central-western France. The cheese cut the wine.
Final verdict. Tavel is known as a fine rose wine. I was not the least bit disappointed. I’ll be pleased to buy it again. But if I’m not doing a review, I won’t bother trying it with any old available cheese.
About the Author
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten computer and Internet books, but definitely prefers drinking fine French, German, or other wine. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. His global wine website www.theworldwidewine.com features a weekly review of $10 wines and new sections writing about and tasting organic and kosher wines. Visit his Italian wine website www.theitalianwineconnection.com .