Saturday, April 28, 2012

Wine and Wineries

Add to Google Reader or HomepageOne of the reasons that I so enjoy Provence is that I really like the taste of Côtes du Rhône wines. Red wines to be exact. France has SO many good wine regions but there is something about the Côtes du Rhône that I find special. Most Côtes du Rhône red wines are made from a mixture of three grapes: Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. Many of the wines in our neighborhood use only the first two, i.e., Grenache and Syrah. I think it is the taste of pepper at the end of a sip that I like best.
“The trademark flavor of French Syrah is black pepper. In the southern Rhône, around Châteauneuf-du-Pape in appellations such as Gigondas and Côtes-du-Rhône Villages, Syrah plays an important though usually subordinate role, typically adding structure to the dominant Grenache grape and other local specialities such as Mourvèdre - for Syrah grapes are relatively small and high in colour and tannins.”
“As for Grenache Noir, it is one of the most important red wine grapes… Increasingly, however, Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre is regarded as the holy trinity in this part of the world. This is the classic blend for the southern Rhone's best red wines: Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Lirac, Tavel and a host of increasingly exciting Côtes du Rhone Villages from villages such as Rasteau and Cairanne. The Syrah adds structure and longevity. Difficult-to-ripen Mourvèdre can add an exotic gamey, almost animal note. But Grenache Noir is the grape most at home in the best dry, almost drought-prone vineyards of the southern Rhone.” (Jancis

If I tried to write about all of the wineries that I like, this blog would take on book proportions. Today, I am limiting my words to a few discoveries that you might enjoy as well.

Domaine des Escaravailles (, located above the village of Roaix, with vineyards in Cairanne and in Rasteau is producing some really fine red wines. At Domaine des Escaravailles, they are now producing a red wine from only Grenache. They also have very nice wines made with the more traditional blend of Grenache and Syrah. We discovered this winery because Ellen and Jane had really enjoyed the white wine that they make called “La Galopine”. Wines from Domaine des Escaravailles are shipped to the US.

We have also been impressed with a little winery in Rasteau called Domaine Elodie Balme and run by a young woman of the same name. She has a very small vineyard (six hectares-almost 15 acres) that she got from her father. Her wines are excellent and, it seems, popular. For instance, we went to buy some of her wine and she is sold out – of everything! (She told us that she will start bottling the 2011 vintage in the middle of May.) – and we will go there to make sure that it is not sold out before we get a chance to buy some.

One more winery worth mentioning (our Lansing neighbor’s favorite) is Domaine Rouge-Bleu ( It is owned and run by Jean-Marc Espinasse and he is making some very nice reds. One of his wines, Mistral, got high reviews by Hachette and by Wine Spectator. The vineyard is between Cairanne and Ste. Cecil les Vignes in the middle of the Rhône Valley where the Mistral reigns. Apparently Jean-Marc has captured the power of the Mistral and put it in a bottle.