07/16/08 – Provence

By Jesse on July 14, 2008


Like some other members of our generation, I’ve long felt a general antipathy towards wine magazines.  It just seems like they’re always full of useless information that doesn’t speak to me in any practical way: reviews of wines I can never find, photos of haute cuisine meals of which I’d have to eat at least six to feel full, and write-ups of “quick getaway” wine vacations that I could never afford (believe me, the only thing “getaway” about a weekend in Europe is the car I’ll be driving away from the bank I’m going to have to rob just to pay for it).  But when my 12-year-old nephew insisted I buy one of his magazine subscriptions to help him learn science or something, I scanned the list until I found the sole wine publication the service offered, and I wrote him a check.

Good thing I did, too, or else we’d never have had a meeting topic this week.  In the July issue of Wine Enthusiast, I found an interesting and informative article about the myriad wines of Provence.  Probably the most important and well-known of the French regions that have never received the attention of an exclusive Young Winos weekly meeting, Provence boasts lots of interesting reds and whites, but its most famous wines are its dry, refreshing rosés.  For this week’s meeting, please feel free to bring any of the three.

The Enthusiast piece breaks Provence down into its eight appellations.  Bellet, Cassis, and Palette are quite small, and their wines may be difficult to find.  However, you should definitely be able to locate wines from:

Bandol — the wines here must be made from 50% Mourvèdre (although most include much more).  The reds are big and meaty, and there’s good rosé as well.
Côtes de Provence — the largest appellation in Provence, in which 80% of production is devoted to rosé, including familiar bottles like Domaine Ott
Coteaux D’Aix-en-Provence — both the white and red grapes used in this northwestern region are the same ones we expect to find in Rhone wines (Grenache Blanc, Syrah, Cinsaut, etc.), with the exception of some Cab Sauv on the red side
Coteaux Varois — this appellation borders Côtes de Provence, but occupies a higher elevation.  Whites, reds and rosés are all produced.
Les Baux de Provence — on the western end of Provence, this appellation is the region’s warmest.  Here you’ll find some excellent reds, made mostly from Grenache and Mourvèdre, which tend to be concentrated and ripe.

We’ll be meeting at Jason’s nautically-themed apartment in parking-challenged Brentwood.  The RSVP situation is as follows: new members have eight spots reserved for them at each and every meeting, with preference within those spots given to newbies who were denied admittance due to space constraints in recent weeks.  Please do not RSVP in the positive if you’re not sure you can make it, as this will deny someone else the opportunity of attending the meeting.  If you do RSVP and then need to cancel, please inform me as soon as possible.

Once you’ve received a confirmation e-mail, go out and buy yourself a delicious bottle of Provencal wine… or simply bring one of those tasty $10 donations that we love and admire.  Looking forward to seeing your thirsty selves on Wednesday night!