Posts Tagged ‘Provence’

Summer 2010 brings a 3rd medaille de Mumu, and the award goes to..Château Miraval’s Pink Floyd!

Winery:  Château Miraval

Wine Name:  Pink Floyd

Vintage: 2009

Composition: old vine Cinsault and Grenache

Style: Rosé 

Country: France

Region: Côtes de Provence

Alcohol: 13.5 %

US Importer: Various in California Premier Wines

US Retail: $16-18

Food: Rosemary roasted chicken, roast beef sandwiches with aioli, fennel stuffed grilled snapper, olives and cheese, brandade with crackers, ratatouille with couscous..


Château Miraval’s “Pink Floyd” Rosé is composed of organically grown cinsault and Grenache grapes grown on the clay/limestone soils of the domaine. These old vines are hand harvested at yields averaging 30hl/ha, and quickly transported to the cellar in small containers or cagettes.

 Miraval’s Pink Floyd rosé is produced via the saignée method, whereby red grapes, either crushed or uncrushed but broken (preferable), are chilled down and allowed to macerate anywhere between several hours (in the case of the Pink Floyd) to several days. The juice will then be drawn off or drained, and without being pressed.

Fermentation then takes place over the course of approximately 21 days at around 16 degrees Celsius. A long cool fermentation encourages the development of more delicate and fruity esters, which are important characteristics in a high quality rosé wine. The finished wine undergoes a light filtration before bottling.

I have already professed to you all my love of rosé. That being said, it should come as no surprise that I taste and imbibe probably more than my fair share. However my affinity for the pink in no way clouds my judgment on the quality and balance of a particular wine. I am very discerning when it comes to drinking and recommending the stuff.

Château Miraval’s 2009 “Pink Floyd” is for me a most quintessential rosé from the south of France. If you’ve never tried a rosé from Provence,this is a great place to start. If you are already a connoisseur of pink wines, or a foodie looking for the perfect wine to pair with just about anything Provencal, then this is your wine!

 Think light, bright, delicate..dry and crisp, with just enough subtle fruit nuances of wild strawberries, pink lady apple and fresh mint leaves. Producing a rosé that deftly balances lively but delicate fruit, good acidity and a snappy mouthfeel is no easy feat. Château Miraval gets the balance just right on this one.

NEXT: Oregon Pinot Camp 2010  Go….OPC!


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After our tour of the domaine and vineyards, it was time to visit the cellar at Château Miraval in order to learn a bit about the winemaking process here, as well as to taste through the present selection of wines produced by this Provencal domaine.

As we entered the chai, chief enologist Emmanuel Gaujal explained that this main cellar was constructed during the latter part of the 19th century by the then present owner, Joseph Lambot. Monsieur Lambot, a veritable renaissance man of the 19th century, is accredited with the invention of re-inforced concrete.

 When American Tom Bove acquired the estate in 1992, he quickly set about renovating and improving the existing chai. Such improvements included a sorting table, pneumatic press (for gentle extraction of juice), and stainless steel, temperature controlled fermentation vats. However, it was not Bove’s intention for newer technologies to entirely trump tradition. The cement tanks of yesteryear as well as the use of barriques for certain cuvees were maintained.

Les vins du domaine..

Emmanuel then led myself, as well as Jeany and Stephen Cronk through a tasting of the domaine’s current offerings. In fact, Chateau Miraval has certified organic vineyards in the adjoining communes of Correns and Chateauvert and produces wines under two appellations, AOC Côtes de Provence and AOC Côteaux Varois.


from the Côtes de Provence:


2008 Château Miraval Côtes de Provence Blanc “Lady Jane”

100% rolle fermented in new oak barrels. Rich, with honey and buttered stonefruit nuances.

 2009 Château Miraval Côtes de Provence Rose “Pink Floyd”

Cinsault, grenache from some of the oldest wines on the property. stainless steel fermentation to encourage bright and delicate fruit flavors.

2005 Château Miraval Côtes de Provence Rouge

Syrah and cabernet sauvignon. Intense and displaying a bright rub red color; nuanced flavors of spices and red berried fruits, with hints of wild herbs.

2006 Château Miraval Côtes de Provence Rouge “Cuvee Natouchka”

Barrel fermented old vine syrah. An intense wine that begs for braised meats and hearty Provencal fare.


from the Coteaux Varois:


2009 Château Miraval Coteaux Varois Blanc “Clara Lua”

95% rolle and 5% grenache blanc. cool, crisp and clean with citrus, white peach and fresh herb notes.

Off in the corner, were displayed several bottles of Miraval history. Who knows in what vintage these wines were created. I suspect that at this point the wine itself had seen better days, however it was so charming to see this bit of history preserved after all this time.

a la prochaine fois Château Miraval!


Thank you to M. Gaujal for providing such an informative tour and tasting of Château Miraval!

Next: a 3rd medaille de mumu!

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My 2010 trip to France culminated with a visit and introduction to the wines of Château Miraval.

A view from the oliviers.. Château Miraval

Situated deep in the heart of Provence, and not far from the town of Brignoles in department of the Var, Château Miraval’s history spans centuries. The domaine is situated close to the Via Aurelia, one of the five main “highways” radiating outward from Rome. Miraval first appears on a map in the 13th century, when it functioned as a monastery complete with vines.

In the 15th century, the Prince of Naples joined the French court and relocated to the Château. It was during this period that Miraval first appeared in the registry of Noble Houses. Throughout the next 400+ years Château Miraval remained in the possession of the noble Orsini family.

It was not until the middle of the 19th century that famed inventor Joseph-Louis Lambot made Château Miraval his home.  Lambot is accredited with the invention of ferro-cement, which ultimately lead to the development of reinforced concrete. This, as you can imagine, is a pretty big deal.

Fast forward to the late 20th century and the history continues. Throughout the 1970’s, Miraval’s owner the famed french jazz pianist and composer Jacques Loussier set up his own recording studio on the domaine. Here at Studio Miraval, Loussier worked with a veritable pantheon of 1970s-80s rock musicians. Bands included Pink Floyd, Elton John, Sting, Yes, AC/DC, U2, and UB40.

In 1992 Loussier sold Miraval to Tom Bove, an american from Indiana who fell in love with the property and dedicated his efforts towards restoring both the domaine and vineyards at Miraval.

Fast forward to 2008..with tremendous improvements and rennovations at Miraval behind him, Mr. Bove has dived into a new labor of love, La Mascaronne, located about a 30 minute drive from Miraval. Presently, a high profile american couple and their young family have set about making this grand Provencal estate their new home.

Les Vignobles de Miraval..

On this particular day, I had the opportunity to meet with Emmanuel Gaujal, enologist and vineyard manager at Miraval. If anyone knows the soils, vines and wines of Provence, it has to be Monsieur Gaujal, as he has worked in the region and with Miraval since the early seventies. How fortunate was I to tour Miraval and the vineyards with the man who knows it best!

As we toured the property in our tiny quatre x quatre (4×4), Gaujal explained that the estate is situated at an altitude of approximately 350 meters (1150 ft.) and includes approximately to 400 hecatres (1000 acres) of land, of which 30 hectares (75 acres) are devoted to vines.

nestled on the valley floor with trees all around..

The vineyards flourish on the valley floor, protected by the surrounding forest of evergreen and white oak, and parasol, aleppo and maritime pine. The soils here are predominantly composed of limestone and clay interspersed with tiny pebbles.

The oldest vines on the property are cinsault, which is used primarily in the production of the domaine’s pink wine (more on this later). In addition, rolle, syrah, Grenache noir and blanc and cabernet sauvignon are cultivated. All of the vineyards are farmed along organic principles.

Ancient terraces being renovated..

Behind the vineyards and the main property, majestic stone terraces planted to 13 varieties of olive trees endow Miraval with the unmistakable signature of Provence. On this day, a portion of the terraces were being renovated by a team of experienced stone workers.

Jeany, Emmanuel et Mumu

Our little 4×4 scampered up to the top terrace to take in a view of the valley below.

La vue est magnifique!

And thank you to Stephen Cronk for the lovely photos.

Next: A wine tasting at Château Miraval.

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Bip and Bandol (rosé)

Bip's Tapenade

For me, one of the most satisfying  food/wine pairings is a glass of Bandol rosé and tapenade. This olive based gourmet condiment from the south of France is extremely easy to prepare, and can be enjoyed in a multitude of ways. My good friend Elisabeth (Bip) Schriber has her own, super tasty version that I whip up whenever a Provencal dinner party is in the works:

Tapenade before..


Idée de recette –BIP’S TAPENADE


1.5 cups pitted nicoise olives

 2 garlic cloves (finely chopped or pressed)

 2 tsp salted capers (rinsed)

 2 anchovy fillets

 1 inch strip of orange zest

 1 tsp of cognac (or other brandy)

 4 Tbs olive oil

 1 Tbs unsalted butter

 sea salt / black pepper

Pit the olives. This is somewhat tedious and time consuming, however if you crack open your bottle of rose and begin sipping, it helps facilitate the process immensely. Disclaimer: I used half nicoise and half kalamata for this latest version. Because the Kalamata were less salty, I also used salted butter.

 Next, combine all ingredients in a food processor. Alternatively, you can achieve the same result with a morter and pestle if you like to do things the old school (and hard) way. Puree/ Grind until you reach the desired texture. Tightly covered with saran wrap, your tapenade will keep in the fridge for up to a week.

Slice baguette, rub with garlic, then  toast. Spread tapenade on each slice, then  enjoy. Tapenade can also be slathered on grilled meats, or served alongside roasted vegees.  However, one must enjoy with a swig of dry and fruity rosé like the following..

Bandol rosé from Domaine du Gros' Noré

A  rosé  from the Provencal appellation of Bandol is a great choice to serve alongside your housemade tapenade. Right now I am really liking the 2009 from Domaine du Gros’ Noré. Composed of 40% Mourvedre, 40% Cinssault and 20% Grenache, this classic example is crisp and dry, yet exhibits a creamy midpalate richness which really kicks it up a notch.

Incidently, drinking Bandol rosé should not stop at just tapenade. This substantial pink wine can carry you through an entire meal. Grilled snapper? Ratatouille? Gigot d’agneau? Roast Pork?

Absolument un rosé!

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