The Cellar: Discover Tavel

Friday, May 16, 2014
Steffen Rasch, GoLocalProv Wine Critic

Many of you will associate Rosés with the wines from Côtes de Provence. And while Provence does produce the vast majority of French Rosés, by no means do they produce all of the best ones. That honor, in my opinion, belongs at least partially to the winemakers of a small village in the Southern Rhone called Tavel.

Tavel is considered one of the Cru villages of the Southern Rhone alongside Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Vacqueyras and Gigondas. And like its regional brothers the wines from Tavel are blends based primarily on Grenache. What makes the wines from Tavel stand out, however, is that they must be Rosés. While many of the Rosés from Provence are meant to be easy-drinking, light (body/flavor) and refreshing, the wines of Tavel are meant to be serious medium-bodied wines – and with a minimum alcohol content of 11% they usually are. So I am honored to join Louis XIV, Balzac and Ernest Hemingway in calling Tavel one of my absolute favorite wines. 

This week’s feature is the 2013 Tavel from Prieuré de Montézargues. Made from 55% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, 13% Clarette and 2% ‘other’ varietals, the grape juice spent 12 hours in contact with its skins after being crushed (maceration). After fermentation, which happened in concrete lined vats, the wine was left to age on the dead yeast for 5 months before being filtering and bottled. 

Like I said, this wine is no pushover. It is rich in flavor and medium-bodied, but young, which comes out in the racy acidity. It has many of the flavors I associate with a well-made Rosé, including those of small, wild strawberries, pomegranate and lemon on the finish but the weight makes it feel like a red wine. I urge you to ask your local wine merchant for a Tavel, which are very versatile by the way. I enjoyed the ’13 Prieuré de Montézargue with a fig, pear, mozzarella and prosciutto salad.

Steffen Rasch is a Certified Sommelier and Specialist of Wine. Feel free to email him at [email protected] with any wine-related question or learn about wine in person by signing up for one of his tastings through the Providence Wine Academy. 

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