Featured in this issue

Saignée, sealed, and delivered.  Rosé rocks the summer months

In these dog days of summer, what wine satisfies quite like rosé?  It’s got just the right combination of fruit, acid, and mouth-feel, it’s perfect chilled, and the color just looks so good in the sun.  It’s also more readily available in the U.S., with better quality rosés popping up every day.   The best technique for making rosé is called saignée, whereby the free run juice from black grapes is “bled” (saignée) or run-off from freshly crushed grapes after a little bit of time soaking them with the skins on.  This process is used in classic quality rosé producing regions such as Bandol (in Provence) and Tavel (in the southern Rhône) and is quite different from the process used in another quality producing region, Champagne (where their rosé is made from adding red wine to white).  Saignée can also be employed to make the remaining juice for a red wine more concentrated.  However, if the winemaker has the resources and the will to bottle the bled juice, the happy by-product will be more rosé for the rest of us!

The Blend’s Monthly Featured Producer: CHÂTEAU DES BAUMELLES

Situated in Bandol, a region often referred to as the Grand Cru of Provence because of its exceptional and long lived red wines, this estate is owned by Michel and Louis Bronzo who also own the prestigious Bastide Blanche.  In addition to his winemaking, Louis sits on the board of the INAO, the French government agency that regulates appellations.  In the distinctive appellation of Bandol, Mourvèdre thrives on the warm climate of the well protected, south-facing terraces and dominates the blends, not just at this estate, but the whole region, often making up 100% of the wines.  The yields are kept very low, with no machine harvesting allowed, and the Bronzo’s winemaking techniques remain traditional.

Recommended Wine:

Rosé actually makes up one in three bottles of all Bandol wines produced.   This lovely example is made from Mourvèdre, Grenache and Cinsaut.  Mourvèdre, when used in rosé, offers all the bright acidity and body that great rosé is capable of delivering.  The color is the tell tale Provençal salmon pink.  On the nose are subtle aromas of strawberries, tea leaves, and a hint of herbs.  The overall effect is one of very good balance and a delightful thirst quenching appeal.   Pairing foods is a cinch with this wine as well.  Try a plate of roasted root vegetables with garlic aioli, or a grilled branzino with herbs.  Even a light meat dish would be a welcome dinner guest at the party!  About $16 USD. 

Because Bandol rosé is not widely distributed, other wines to look for include the previously mentioned Bastide Blanche, Tempier, La Rouviere, Pibarnon, and Pradeaux.

Catalog this wine in The Personal Wine Curator cellar software like this:
  • Producer: Baumelles
  • Wine Name/Appellation: Rose, Bandol
  • Vintage: 2006
  • Varietal: Mourvèdre
  • Type: Red
  • Vineyard/Sub-sub:
  • Sub-region: Bandol
  • Region: Provence
  • Country: France
  • Body: Medium
  • Drink after: 2007
  • Drink by: 2010

PWC Tips and Tricks

This month we look at the Grapes layout. PWC lists almost every major grape you can think of, but you can still add your own favorites. Take a look. CLICK HERE.

Did you know: sulfites occur naturally in every wine?

Sure, we’ve all seen the label on every bottle of wine made in the U.S.:  “CONTAINS SULFITES.”  It’s capitalized, too, giving it the overall effect of a horror movie.  OH, NOOOOOO, SULFITES!!  Well, the U.S. government likes to keep us safe.  You may not even know what a sulfite is, but from the looks of the warning label, maybe it’s something better avoided.  European wines don’t always have the same warning labels, so they must be sulfite free, right?  Besides, sulfites give you headaches, right?  Actually, the answer is no on both accounts. 

Let’s rewind all of this.  What exactly is a sulfite?  Technically speaking, it’s a negatively charged ion that is liberated when sulphorous acid dissociates.  However, in the U.S., “sulfites” is a term that is used to include various forms of sulphur elements, including free sulphur dioxide and sulphurous acid.  What this means for you is that your wine has a shelf life precisely because it contains some form of sulphur dioxide.  In fact, SO2 is widely used throughout the world in wine production as a preservative and a disinfectant.  Vines absorb sulphur from the soil naturally, and it is used judiciously in the winery (in good wineries, anyway) to shut down the yeast and bacteria that hop along for the ride with the grape skins.

European and other wines don’t always have sulfite warnings, but they do have sulfites, just like the wines in the U.S.  And people with asthma and allergies are certainly at risk when exposed to sulfites, though their symptoms don’t include headaches.  In fact, asthmatics must be very careful to avoid them, as their reactions can be severe.

So, just what is the cause of those headaches after you’ve been drinking?  It may be the histamines, also naturally present in wine (try a Benadryl or ibuprofen before indulging).  It may be the purity, or lack thereof, of the alcohol (drink better wine).  It may even be that you forgot to eat (more Champagne, anyone?).  The most likely scenario however, is that you probably drank too much.  Judgment is the first casualty of intoxication.  And we all like a soupcon of denial to help wash it away.

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