We are a wine shop that explores the best of both worlds with retail shopping and a walk-in tasting room open Tuesday through Sunday. Our tasting room selections change monthly and always focus on a different "Old World" and "New World" region. The ever-changing menu allows our guests to constantly explore and discover something new. This month we are exploring Provence and Lujan De Cuyo in Mendoza. Order a flight of all four wines or simply stop by, shop, and enjoy a glass. It's up to you!
The vineyards of southern France lie along the Mediterranean coast from Italy in the east to the Spanish border in the west. They are split into three broad areas: Languedoc and Roussillon to the west of the Rhone river, and Provence to the east. All three regions are hugged by the Mediterranean Sea. Provence is known for its diverse landscapes, from the majestic Southern Alps on its eastern edge, to the Camargue plains with rolling vineyards, olive groves, pine forests and lavender fields. The region runs along the coast in an east to west direction and is about 150 miles long and 100 miles wide from north to south. Perhaps no region in the world is more known for its ever-pleasing, mouthwatering rosé wines. As summer comes to a slow end, we thought we would do our part to help extend the mood, and if there is any old world wine region that represents fun in the sun and glamours vibes, ooh la la, it is Provence!
Provence is recorded among the oldest wine regions in France and is undoubtedly among the most popular. Greek colonists brought grape varieties to the region in the 6th century BC when they founded the city of Massalia (modern-day Marseille). It was the Phoenicians, 2,600 years ago, who first began pressing and processing the red grapes quickly to leave the wine with a delicate, pale pink hue. Hello rosé! They must have realized, as we now know, how perfect the region was for producing delicious juice. However, it was the Romans who arrived in the 2nd century BC, that started transporting it throughout their trading routes for, most likely, consumption AND currency.
The climate and aspect is perfect for wine production with mountain ranges providing ideal slopes and sheltered valleys. The Mediterranean Sea creates high diurnal temperature shifts with warm days and cool evenings, and the sea breezes along with the famous Mistral winds from the north help keep the pests away. The climate is generally dry as the region averages 2,700-3,000 golden hours of sunshine each year (much more than the minimum 1,400 required to grow vines). Wild, resinous shrubs like rosemary, juniper, thyme, and lavender also grow almost everywhere in Provence. Many now say these plants, collectively called ‘Garrigue” influence the character of the wines both on the nose and the palate. Underneath that vegetation, the soil on the western side is built on limestone, while further east there is more granite. The differences in soil as well as the wide range of microclimates throughout the region have strong influence specific grape varietals planted in the region.
Careful not to put Provence into a box, rosé wines do account for 82% of the total wine produced in the region. Provence produces more rosé than any other region in the world, and 40% of all French rosé comes from here. The rosés tend to be dry, crisp, bright and pale. There are nine total wine appellations within the region of Provence, but the most recognizable would be the Cotes de Provence (the largest), Bandol and Coteaux Varois all located from the central region of Provence to its eastern border.
In addition to the rosé style, you’ll also find incredible white and red wines. Some of these wines are produced from recognizable varietals such as the white Bordeaux grapes Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. You will also see influence from the Rhône valley just to the north with white grapes such as Marsanne, Roussanne, and Grenache Blanc. Less familiar varietals like Rolle (Vermentino), and Ugni Blanc (Trebbiano) are also around. In terms of reds, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot along with Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvedre, and Carignan from the Rhône are all widely planted.
The flight starts the Provence journey with a fresh, lush rose from a 17th generation house from the Cote de Provence. Next, you will enjoy a complex and fun white blend of Clairette and Rolle from the house of Domaine Houchart. This wine will make you think twice, full of lemon, mango, orange peel with a touch of spice. Then, a gorgeous blend of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon from Triennes (founded by Jacques Seysses of Domaine Dujac and Aubert de Villaine of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti). And lastly, we put the exclamation point on the journey within the appellation of Bandol as we finish with an intensely complex, classic, big and powerful Mourvedre from Chateau Pradeaux.
So, grab your sunglasses, grab a picnic, grab these wines and sit back and enjoy these last few weeks of the summer of 2022!
Mendoza is easily the largest region in Argentina. Located in the middle of the country along the western edge, nestled against the Andes mountains, the region sits between 800 and 1200 meters above sea level. It is also home to many smaller appellations like Maipu, Lujan De Cuyo, and the Uco Valley. With it's high altitude vineyards and arid climate, Mendoza has a global reputation for producing fresh, bold, and intense red wines from the Malbec grape.
Dating back to the 16th century, Spanish settlers discovered that the foothills of the Andes made for ideal wine grape cultivation. During this time they were primarily growing Mission grapes which were the first vitis vinfera planted in the Americas. It was the French Botanist, Michel Aime Pouget who planted the first Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc vines in 1868. However, during the 1960’s many of these plantings were replaced with Criolla Grande, a hearty, high yielding grape used for bulk wine, in turn giving Argentina a bad wine rep for several decades when it came to quality. The 1990s would eventually see both local and foreign reinvestment into high quality wine production, and Argentina was back.
As with any globally recognized wine region, the optimal climate or terroir is an essential component. Soils here are incredibly diverse due to millions of years of erosion by rain, wind and glaciers. The arid, cold desert climate with less than 10 inches of rain a year bodes well for producing deeper, darker and riper fruit flavors in the wines. However the lack of moisture is a bit of a challenge. The Andes mountains which run north to south along the western edge of the country are to thank for the dry climate as they cast a rain shadow over much of the region. Vineyards are often fed water from the snowmelt runoff and rivers coming down from the mountains. But it is truly the altitude that gives Mendoza its distinct advantage as many vineyards rest well above 1,000 meters. Hot sunny days are followed by incredibly cool nights, allowing for gradual ripening and flavor development while still maintaining incredible acidity and freshness in the grapes.
Our first wine in the flight is a deliciously light and aromatic Semillon. A French grape by origin, famously known for its use in Bordeaux, this Semillon from the Uco Valley provides a fresh, light, and subtle white wine. Elegant and easy to drink, this selection from Mendel makes for a great patio wine to round out your Summer.
Next up is a grape that is uniquely Argentinian, Torrontes. A natural cross between Pais and Muscat of Alexandria, this is a grape that grows well at higher elevations and has adapted to successfully growing in arid conditions. While the Areyna winery is doing some fabulous estate wines in Lujan De Cuyo within Mendoza, they actually source grapes for this wine from one of the best places in Argentina for Torrontes further north called Salta. These are again extremely high altitude vineyards and the thicker skinned Torrontes grapes here produce a white wine that is high in acid but intensely aromatic with notes of stone fruits, like fresh apricot and peaches with citrus and potpourri.
It would not be a proper flight from Argentina without the red wines, and the last two selection in the flight will knock your socks off. With a nod to Michel Aime Pouget who originally planted French grapes in Argentina in the 1860s, we give you two intense and beautiful wines. These are powerful, fresh, full bodied and easily paired with grilled and roasted meats; a staple of the Argentinian diet. The Graffito Cab Franc shows an enticing perfume and a fullness on the palate with dark red fruits that make up a full-bodied yet crushable red wine.
How appropriate to finish with a classic high elevation Malbec from this distinct region? The Casarena Single Vineyard Malbec is everything you could hope for. The fruit for this wine is grown and harvested in Agrelo, a smaller subregion where these vineyards are known for producing high quality Malbec with deep complexity. The wine itself is full of dark fruits, rich on the palate, and balanced with grippy tannins and fresh acidity.
All in all, you are in for yet another New World treat this month as we take a deep dive into the variety of wines Mendoza has to offer!
Lujan De Cuyo Flight
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We now host curated tastings for groups of two to ten people. Our tastings are a great way to explore wines that are new to you or indulge in some of your favorite regions. Whether you are looking to learn or to simply relax, our team has you covered.