Response to “Provence”

By Jesse on July 18, 2008

As we continue to enjoy our post-LA Times infamy — now in its fifth month — we can sometimes tend to forget our humbler roots.  Back in our slightly more obscure period, we’d occasionally have meetings with as few as eight, seven, or even six Winos in attendance.  These days, we typically fill each meeting with upwards of sixteen or seventeen thirsty young critics… but every now and again, we still experience the occasional week in which interest, for whatever reason, is less pronounced.  So it was at Jason’s house for our Provence meeting, which saw the arrival of only ten Winos — our lowest total in months.  Unfortunately, that also meant only four bottles.  Here are our thoughts on those four.

The 2004 Domaine Ott “Blancs de Blancs” (Côtes de Provence) was our sole representative in the white wine department.  The pigmentation was an intriguing and golden-skewing shade of yellow, like an overripe banana.  Jordan observed a honeyed nose, and I picked up some straw.  Emily cited orchard fruit, and newbie Eric agreed, picking out apricot notes.

On the palate, Jordan observed some refreshing lemon zest, and Jason got green apples.  Leah thought the mouthfeel was buttery, while I enjoyed a nice honeyed flavor profile with strong acidity on the end.  We all thought the juice had benefitted from its several years in the bottle, and this proved a well-received wine.  Unfortunately, the $40 tariff was not as well-received, and few were eager to re-visit the bottle at that price.

Next up was the 2005 Domaine Ott Rosé (Bandol), which was exciting… it’s not every day we get to taste two wines from the same legendary French producer back to back (even if they weren’t the same vintage).  Interesting pigmentation on this one as well; Jordan called it orange, Jason said “rusty pink,” and I deemed it “salmon.”  The nose was more subtle than the last one, according to Jason, although I got a good little dose of healthy French funk on the beginning.  Eric got floral notes, Jordan called it grassy, and Jason thought it was earthy and woody.

If the nose was subtle, the palate was more so; this was certainly no White Zinfandel.  These Provence rosés are supposed to be refreshing and quaffable, without too much fruit or structure getting in the way, but there really wasn’t much of anything going on here.  I picked up some acidity and found the wine generally refreshing, but many present were put of by the lack of anything to talk about.  Leah said that the wine “just tastes like vinegar”; although I wouldn’t go that far, it’s certainly possible that this bottle was past its prime.

The third bottle was the 2007 Saint André de Figuiere Rosé (Côtes de Provence), which Jason thought smelled “exactly like scented soap.”  Emily agreed, calling it “scented candle.”  I got some cherry, Jordan got lemon, and Eric got plum.

The palate was light yet fruity, more along the lines of what the Wine Enthusiast piece had led us to expect.  I picked up strawberry notes, while Jordan got peach.  The finish wound up a bit tart, but that almost added to the refreshing character of this dry rosé.  Leah really enjoyed it, and although she predictably wouldn’t fork over the $17 for a second go-around, several present thought the price was fair enough for this light-hearted bottle.

We wrapped up the Provence portion of the evening with the 2007 Domaine Tempier Rosé (Bandol).  A healthy little dose of funk breezed off quickly, leaving a grassy nose that Emily described as “herbaceous.”  For her part, Leah even picked up some green onions.

The herbs returned on the palate, and the wine was reminiscent in that way of a lot of Sauvignon Blancs we’ve had.  I appreciated the crisp acidity throughout, which added backbone to the soft, round mouthfeel.  Jason observed some red fruit character, and he also got some woodiness.  Jordan complained that the wine wasn’t quite as purely “refreshing,” due to its complexity.  We all agreed this $30 number was a “wine drinker’s rosé” rather than a simple quaffer.  That said, very interesting.

Having exhausted the Provence supply, we raided Jason’s wine fridge and grazed on healthy quantities of fromage.

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