Ah, the glorious region of Provence…located in the southeastern part of France, not too far from the Mediterranean Sea. The ochre soil, the scents of lavender, rosemary, thyme…the “garrigue”, and of course, the wine! The Wines of Provence Trade Show arrived in Chicago February 23rd for a delightful, informative, delicious tasting.
I attended this lovely affair for several reasons. First, there is my undeniable love of rosé wine, which I keep in my cellar year round. There are wonderful whites and reds also produced in Provence, but I feel they take a backseat unless one is exposed to them. Next is my intense love of France in general. Born on Bastille Day, I have always said, if I had enough money I would retire in France- maybe even Provence! Lastly, I simply adore being able to use my French! I find after living there in 1976-77 I long for each and every opportunity to use this beautiful language. I was so thrilled that this event was happening in Chicago that I asked my “Women into Wine” study group to join me for the day. We are all at different points in our wine careers, but we share the love and passion for wine. It was such an honor to show them one of my favorite French places.
It is always a challenge for me when I attend one of these incredible events to comment on the wines. I found them all quite pleasant, some more aromatic or original than others, but none left me disappointed. There were a few that stood out, in my humble opinion, that left a stronger mark on my palate…ones I truly wished I will be able to find here in the Chicago area. If not, I guess another trip to Provence is in order!
Provence has three AOP’s- Appellations d’ Origine Protégées- Côtes de Provence, Coteaux d’ Aix-en-Provence, and Coteaux Varois en Provence. There are also four “Terroir” Designations- Côtes de Provence Sainte-Victoire, Côtes de Provence La Londe, Côtes de Provence Fréjus, and Côtes de Provence Pierrefeu. Each of these special areas was represented. The most common grape varietals for making rosé wine are Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Tibouren, Carignan. and Cabernet Sauvignon. They are traditionally dry and refreshing. I was literally in “rosé heaven”!! Here are my “favorite of favorites”- the wines and either château or winemaker.
Château Carpe Diem, Château de Brigue, Château d’ Esclans- their Rock Angel was divine! Château Du Seuil- I liked the rosés, but the Château Grand Seuil Blanc was awesome!! Château Sainte Marguerite, Domaine d’Eole, Château Gassier, and Domaines Pierre Chavin also displayed strong wines. Maîtres Vignerons de Saint Tropez- La Légende 2015…le meilleur!! There were also wonderful wines from Mirabeau en Provence, Rose Infinie, with its personable winemaker, Benjamin Mei, and Pure Provence. I thoroughly found each winery’s selections very palatable, special and a delight. I was so honored to have had the opportunity to be there and experience them.
Merci beaucoup to all the wineries who participated. You brought the best of Provence to chilly Chicago! Santé!
After this amazing day, our little group headed to Bin 36 in Chicago’s West Loop. My dear friend and owner, Enoch, made my friends first visit one they will remember. The service was spot on, the food incredible, and of course the wines were outstanding! Cuvée Tulah, named for Enoch’s daughter, is a beautiful Roussanne that dances on your palate. We also were treated to a rare Basque wine called Maddy-another delicious choice. A great end to a fabulous day!