June 4, 2019
Rosé sales may be booming in Alberta, but it was not always that way. Centuries before it was common to reach for a chilled bottle of pink, the southern French region of Tavel had already established itself as the premier rosé producer. Vineyards have existed in this part of the southern Rhone Valley since the 5th century B. C., while records show that it has been known for its rosés for hundreds of years. In fact, when Popes used to vacation in southern France during the middle ages, many often enjoyed a refreshing glass of Tavel. Back then, it quickly became known as, “the king of rosés.”
But now, Tavel seems to be a little under-the-radar and likely not too familiar to most of our customers. Unlike the uber-popular, lighter-styled and sometimes downright simple rosés filling store shelves, the wines of Tavel are darker, richer and a little more substantive than your average pink wine. Think of the wines of Tavel as red wine substitutes when you are craving something cool and refreshing. They tend to be noticeably darker than your average rosé, a notch higher in alcohol, spicy and quite a bit more full-bodied. This little village’s ruby coloured wines seem best suited towards being savoured with a thoughtfully prepared meal, rather than the mindless swigging we tend to use lighter rosé for.
The grapes here, like other wines of the Côtes du Rhône and Provence, are predominately Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre, with the fruity, lesser known Cinsault increasing its presence in the blend. This is a hot climate and these black skinned grapes ripen quite handily. You can expect creamy, intense flavours of strawberry, red cherries and white peach. Always dry, the wines of Tavel should be served lightly chilled, and will pair nicely with a variety of foods. There are more intense flavours here, allowing for more bold dishes like BBQ meats, burgers with aged cheddar and bacon, and even smoked foods.
Incredibly crowd-pleasing, they are that unique kind of wine that is both approachable for those new to wine, while offering loads of interesting character to the passionate wine fan. So fire up the grill, place a bottle of Tavel on top of the ice in the cooler, and turn on the music. Bon appétit!
A bit of a specialty, Tavel wines are in limited supply at select locations. Look for M. Chapoutier Beaurevoir Tavel or Prieure de Montezargues Tavel.
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