Earlier this month, on the hottest day of the entire year in London thus far, expert wine writer and educator, Richard Hemming, of JancisRobinson.com, hosted our Shades of Provence: Rosé Masterclass & Regional Food Pairings event at AWC Wine Academy. The weather was ideal for enjoying rosé and all of the wines were expertly matched with delicious, Provence-inspired dishes throughout the evening.
As the rosés were being chilled down to their optimum serving temperature, guests were welcomed with a refreshing glass of Franck Bonville Blanc de Blancs Champagne and canapés with a Mediterranean twist. This included savoury tomato and olive tapenade tartlets, lemon flavoured salmon ceviche en croute and grilled courgette rolls with rocket & goats cheese.
During the first flight of wines, Richard introduced attendees to the processes involved with making rosé and the scope of rosé production in Provence. He explained that whilst 88% of total output in Provence is rosé wine, it accounts for only 8% of the world’s total production of rosé (however, it certainly remains the most premium and the highest quality).
Ensuring that attendees knew how to properly asses a rosé wine, Richard went on to briefly explain how these wines differ from whites and reds and what one should look for in the appearance, nose and palate in order to come to an overall conclusion on the quality of a rosé. He explained that the evening’s nine wines were categorized into three different flights with the following themes: very pale rosés from the Côtes de Provence, slightly fuller-bodied rosés from Bandol, and the Super Premium rosés that are currently the finest and rarest styles in production.
Flight 1: Côtes de Provence
Wine 1: 2010 Château Miraval, Côtes de Provence Rosé
Wine 2: Château Minuty, Rosé et Or
Wine 3: 2012 Domaines Ott, Château de Selle Rosé, Coeur de Grain
Flight 2: Bandol
Wine 4: 2012 Domaine la Suffrène, Rosé Tradition
Wine 5: 2012 Château de Pibarnon, Rosé
Wine 6: 2012 Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rosé
Flight 3: Super Premium
Wine 7: 2012 Château Simone, Rosé Palette
Wine 8: 2010 Domaine de la Source, Bellet
Wine 9: 2010 Château d’Esclans, Les Clans
Two out of three of the wines in the first flight were the classic, ‘white peach flesh’ colour one would expect to find in a quintessential Provence rosé, a trait that guests were easily able to see from the built-in light boxes that are situated at each table in the Academy.
For the food, this first flight was paired with a light, seared tuna niçoise salad with quail eggs and rosemary croutons. It not only complimented the starting wines wonderfully, it was also a delectable choice to lead off the evening’s dishes.
The second flight of wines all had noticeably fuller and more concentrated palates compared to the first flight. There was a greater evidence of specific fruit characteristics and a noticeable persistence of flavour evident in all of them but particularly in the 2012 Domaine la Suffrène. As we moved further through this second set of Bandol selections, we reached Wine 6, the 2012 Domaine Tempier, which is, without a doubt, one of the most exceptional and well respected wines from the entire Bandol region. A deliciously creamy seafood risotto with langoustine and threads of saffron was served alongside the wines, perfectly complimenting this fuller style of rosé.
Between flights and food pairings the room was full of lively debate, as some people clearly preferred the higher acid and Sancerre-like, as well as somewhat herbaceous, character of certain wines, whilst others enjoyed the more fruit-forward examples and the wines that offered hints of melon, peach and red berries.
After the final wines were poured, Richard moved swiftly on to Wine 7, the 2012 Château Simone. Out of all the wines tasted on the night, this was the only one to show some noticeable tannin due to the longer maceration time that is applied during the vinification process. Richard also pointed out that Wine 8, which uses a very rare grape variety called Braquet, could quite easily be mistaken for a white wine if tasted blind due to its flavour profile and complexity. There are only 12 hectares of Braquet in the entire world, all of them are in one Provence village and Domaine de la Source owns half of the total, thereby establishing this wine’s premium positioning.
The evening ended with the 2010 Château d’Esclans, Les Clans – the most luxurious wine of the night. Produced using classically Burgundian winemaking techniques and with the influence of new, French oak barrels, the wine had a subtle hint of coconut and was exceptionally creamy on the palate.
As we finished this last wine, we also enjoyed the night’s final dish, lamb cutlets with anchovy and rosemary breadcrumbs, salsa verde and wilted chard, Richard received a round of applause from a room of very satisfied guests and it was revealed that the wine of the night was the 2012 Domaine Tempier.
In August we have the WSET Level 1 Certified Course being held here at the Wine Academy, as well as some great events throughout September, such as The Importance of Glassware: A Tutored Comparison on 10th September and a Château Pape Clément Masterclass on 17th September.