Nature behaves better in Provence than practically anywhere else.
We can't blame her—after spending a few bucolic afternoons at the foot of the Alpilles, amid intoxicating perfumes of pine and garrigue, this is one paradise from which we would not want to be expelled.
Since the early 1970s, Mas de Gourgonnier has cared for its vines and olive trees completely organically—and has the certification to prove it. But it's not like you need a bureaucratic piece of paper to tell you that this wine is the real deal—just one look at the vineyards and you know that nothing artificial will come between you and this bottle of Mas de Gourgonnier Rouge.
The Cartier family—Luc, Lucienne and daughter Eve—work plenty hard to keep this system running smoothly, and the quality is evident. The 2006 Rouge is a knock-out, captivating red with everything you could want: perfect balance, bottomless depth, dynamic flavor and certainly great potential for the cellar. The power of the family's Cabernet Sauvignon in 2006 is especially tantalizing, giving this blend of Cabernet, Carignane, Grenache and Syrah incredible structure and great mouthfeel.
This juicy, deliciously complex red blend combines 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Carignane, 20% old-vine Grenache and 10% Syrah. Incense blends with blackberries on the lusciously perfumed nose; wonderfully grippy tannins present a structured yet silky mouth of black cherries with a serious amount of spice. The finish is fine and lingers with notes of cassis, black pepper and the unforgettable scent of garrigue that grows wild over this extraordinary, 100% organic Provençal domaine.
"This impressively concentrated rendition of Gourgonnier – only 13% in alcohol, interestingly – is slightly rustic in its tannins but will prove exceptionally versatile at table... the wine is always matured in a mixture of tank and cask, never bottled much before the next harvest, is always distinctly recognizable as Gourgonnier, and always represents excellent value." -Wine Advocate
Not just a destination for tourists and movie stars, Provence makes some delicious and easy-drinking wines. Most of these wines are rosé – a dry, pale, pink style rose. The climate here is Mediterranean, with most of the vines planted on southern facing slopes to avoid the fierce Mistral winds. Thirteen varieties are permitted in the region, the most important for rose being Carignan, Grenache and Cinsault. A move is being made to bring in more varieties, like Syrah, to increase the quality of the wines.
The most important appellation is Côtes de Provence, where about 80% of the production is the typical style rose. Unfortunately, the easy-drinking aspect does not translate to the price – some of these wines are a bit pricey for drink-today wines. Some producers are making a shift to higher quality while others are selling their wines at a bargain. Either way, Côtes de Provence rose is a delicious match with any provence-style garlic-y cuisine. Other appellations to note include Bandol, Bellet, Les Baux-de-Provence, Cassis and Côteaux d'Aix-en-Provence. Though Côtes de Provence rules in amount of wine produced, the quality appellation to know is Bandol. Mostly red and mostly Mourvedre, the wines of Bandol are able to age a few years, like many a Chateauneuf-du-Pape, but also enjoyed in their youth.
About France - Other regions
When it comes to wine, France is a classic. Classic blends, grapes and styles began in the country and they still remain. Think about it - people ask for a Burgundian style Pinot Noir, they refer to wines as Bordeaux or Rhone blends - Champagne even had to pass a law to stop international wineries from putting their region on the label of all sparkling wine.
The top regions of France are: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire, Rhone. And these regions are so diverse! It makes sense that wine regions throughout the world try to emulate their style. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and
Syrah are no longer French varieties, but international varieties. They may not be the leader of cutting edge technology or value-priced wines, but there is no doubt that they are still producing wines of great quality and diversity.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.