With the possible, and decidedly unfamous exceptions of zones like Bandol Rouge on the red side, and Picpoul de Pinet on the white, and a few others too, Provence is all about the pink stuff. This seaside and sunsplashed southeastern corner of France consistently turns out the most interesting and sophisticated rose` wines, for my scratch, in the whole world.
BUT…because this area is so hot, dry, and sunny, with an exceedingly looong growing season to boot, Provence has long been home to black-skinned grape varieties like Mourvedre and Carignan that not only excel in such baking conditions, they actually cannot fully ripen without them (Mourvedre is regularly harvested into October!). Clearly, these reds are not typically characterized by juicy, crunchy fruit and ethereal complexity, but rather trade on their brooding, chunky, rich, and powerful elements that stem from both vine and terroir. In the very hottest vintages (and in fact for some palates even in more balanced ones) Provencal reds can be alcoholic, flabby, and overripe, but the slab-like tannins of Mourvedre, and the fiercely rugged acidic and tannic structure of Carignan (this cuvee` also includes the very velvety and complex Syrah) are natural bulwarks against it, especially for those growers at elevation, with some mountain shading, and the winemaking savoir faire too of course…
Tonight’s dinner was largely a refrigerator improvisation that eventually played out as a chilled green bean, red pepper, and purple onion salad, and then grilled garlicky fresh pork sausages simmered in a tomato, mushroom, and herb sauce with mashed potatoes on the side.
Petit Rimauresq Cotes de Provence 2008
Deep and saturated crimson purple color. Dark and pungent nose of prune, briarwood smoke, black currants, dried herbs, roasted meat, and black licorice. In the mouth the wine is full-bodied with stubbly tannins, a discreet acidity, and supple, chewy black cherry and mulberry “fruit leather” fruit, wet stones, and notes of crushed juniper berries. The wine finishes with a sweet and sour fruit, and melted bitter chocolate flavors.