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Domaine de la Citadelle Le Chataignier 2013
Blend: 40% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 30% Mourvèdre
More than just a European vacation hotspot and the rosé capital of the world, Provence is a coastal, southeastern French appellation increasingly producing interesting wines of all colors. The warm, breezy Mediterranean climate is ideal for grape growing and the diverse terrain and soil types allow for a variety of wine styles within the region. Adjacent to the Rhône Valley, Provence shares some characteristics with its northwestern neighbor—namely, the fierce Mistral wind and the plentiful wild herbs (such as rosemary, lavender, juniper and thyme) often referred to as ‘garrigue.’ The largest appellation here is Côtes de Provence, followed by Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence.
Provence is internationally acclaimed for its dry, refreshing, pale-hued rosé wines, which make up the vast majority of the region’s production. These are typically blends, often dominated by Mourvèdre and supplemented by Grenache, Cinsault, Tibouren, and other varieties.
A small amount of full-bodied, herbal white wine is made here—particularly from the Cassis appellation, from Clairette and Marsanne. Other white varieties used throughout Provence include Roussane, Sémillon, Vermentino (known locally as Rolle) and Ugni blanc.
Perhaps the most interesting wines of the region, however, are the red wines of Bandol. Predominantly Mourvèdre, these are powerful, structured, and ageworthy wines with lush berry fruit and savory characteristics of earth and spice.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.