Looking for special bottles of red wine from Provence is not necessarily easy in Bordeaux. Over half of the wine in Provence is pink, the color many identify with the region. To find a few, I headed to a favorite wine bar, Julo-Halles de Talence, where I knew Guillermo would have some enticing bottles. He has an eye for finding small and interesting winemakers in Southern France.
He immediately pulled out his favorites and ravenous Franglish ensued. I settled on two that fit my budget: Domaine Hauvette and Clos Cibonne.
Allons-Y! (Let’s Go!) at Domaine Hauvette
Guillermo took a chance showing up at the Saint-Remy-de-Provence winery the day and time he proposed to Dominique Hauvette- she had not responded to his inquiry. Apparently, it’s quite difficult to get a visit yet she waved him up the road and they were off.
He shared that the Domaine and vineyards are tucked right up against the base of the Alpilles mountains (little Alps) which rise up steeply in the Les Baux-de-Provence region. The area is wildly rugged, hot, and luckily enjoys the Mistral wind. The latter two keep things dry making forms of organic viticulture easier and the norm among vignerons; each of the twelve producers practice either organic, biodynamic, or an equivalent form of farming. And in fact the appellation, AOP Les Baux-de-Provence, is trying to make it a mandate.
Hauvette’s technique in the vineyard and winery is in line with this- no chemicals, natural preparations and minimal intervention. She prefers letting the vines and grapes express their true personality and practices biodynamic farming. This inspiration came from meetings with Eloi Dürrbach at Domaine de Trévallon early in her wine life. Trévallon is a Les Baux pioneer of these methods.
Awarded for her work and her wines, Dominique was elected Winemaker of the Year 2020 at the Grand Prix of the Revue des Vins de France. She is the first woman to earn that title.
Wine Two – Eccentric Tibouren at Clos Cibonne
The second wine comes from a different area in Provence, Le Pradet, where Clos Cibonne goes back centuries. The late 1700s is when the Roux family purchased the estate. In 1930, Andre Roux found a few peculiar vines growing in an area of his Mourvèdre vineyard. Taking them for analysis, he discovered the grape to be Tibouren. He ended up propagating them, pulling out the Mourvèdre vines and planting the entire vineyard to Tibouren.
His Tibouren was (and still is) so regarded that Clos Cibonne is the only Cru Classé granted special permission to put the grape variety name on the label. This is not surprising given his advocacy for the area and work to establish Provence’s Cru Classé of which Clos Cibonne is one of eighteen.
Today the fifth generation is making the wine and running the show: Brigette Deforge, the granddaughter of André Roux, and her winemaker husband Claude Deforge.
They continue to love this finicky grape even though it’s susceptible to rot and has non-homogenous clusters. Their vineyard position twenty minutes from the Mediterranean means prevalent sea breezes and thankfully, no rot problems.
This very rare grape with limited acreage is also a new love for us- our first time tasting it. DNA analysis confirmed it is the same variety as Rossese di Dolceacqua from north-eastern Italy’s Liguria region.
My tasting notes and wine pairing follow. Note both wineries are organic and Domaine Hauvette utilizes biodynamic principles.
Domaine Hauvette Roucas 2018
- Winery location: Saint-Remy-de-Provence
- Total vineyard area: 17 hectares (42 acres)
- Total annual production: 40,000 bottles (one of the smallest producers in this region)
- Winemaking Roucas 2018: Native yeast fermentation in amphora, aging in stainless tank.
Pronounced ruby red in color, fairly intense blackberry, black cherry and plum aromas dominate with violet hints, and oregano and tobacco notes. It’s fresh, rich and well-structured with a round mouthfeel yet stays light on its feet. Flavors are more red-fruited (plum and cranberry). Dry, medium acidity, medium fine tannins, medium body. Distinct white pepper on the medium+ finish. Alcohol: 12.5%. Price: 24€ / about $32.
While this wine is not imported to the US, you can find other Domaine Hauvette wines through Kermit Lynch Wine Merchants.
Clos Cibonne Cuvée Spéciale Tibouren 2019, Côtes de Provence Cru Classé
- Winery Location: Just outside Le Pradet, between Marseille and Saint-Tropez, not far from the Mediterranean sea
- Total vineyard area: 15 hectares (37 acres)
- Total annual production: 134,000 bottles of which 24,00 are Tibouren rouge
- Winemaking Cuvée Spéciale Tibouren: Native yeast fermentation in stainless vats with twice a day pump over; aging in large, old casks 4 to 6 months, depending on the vintage.
Pale ruby in color. Pronounced wild strawberry and red currant that meet evergreen-like forest mint. We loved the purity and prevalent balanced structure. Medium acidity. Medium slightly tacky yet fine tannins. Medium body and finish. The red fruit flavors are in the background on the palate, which showed pine, garrigue, and significant black pepper on the lingering finish. Alcohol: 12.5%. Price: 24€ ($30). Find in the US here. If in the EU, order directly from the winery here.
Red wines from Provence with Mediterranean Lamb Meatballs
Mark and I love Greek keftedes, which are ground meats with an assortment of spices grilled on a skewer or fried. I decided to make these meatballs and bake them because it’s no fun grilling in the rain.
I mixed garlic, cumin, cilantro and oregano into the keftedes and served them on a plate with hummus, cilantro sauce, tzatziki, crumbled feta, and home-made naan bread.
The richness and spices of all components of the dish mirrored the same in both wines, the spices playing off of each other. I have to say this was really a wow pairing!
French Winophiles Head to Provence for Red Wines
This article is part of the French #Winophiles February theme ‘Red wines of Provence’ led by our host Payal from Keep the Peas. We are a group of wine loving writers and bloggers who meet for a Twitter chat the third Saturday monthly at 8am PT, 17:00 CET. Please join us February 20th using hashtag #Winophiles. And make sure to check out articles from other members below!
- Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla is presenting “Provençal Pork Stew + Clos Cibonne Cuvee Speciale Rouge 2019”
- Wendy from A Day In The Life On The Farm shares “Beef Daube Provencal with a Bandol Rouge”
- Payal at Keep the Peas is having “A Bandol Red and Lamb Biryani”
- Jane from Always Ravenous is showcasing “Provencal Braised Beef with Bandol Rouge”
- Susannah from Avvinare is telling us how “Beef stew and A Glass of Bandol Rouge Warms the Heart”
- Jeff at Food Wine Click! shares some “Provençal Memories and Mas de Gourgonnier Rouge”
- Gwendolyn from Wine Preditor tells us of “The Magique of Provence
- Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles shares “Bandol Rouge from Château Saint Anne”
- Cathie from Side Hustle Wino shares “Off the Beaten Path in Provence”
- Mel from Wining With Mel shares “Roses are red? Love for Provences big red wines and Chateau Calissanne”
And here at Savor the Harvest I share “Winning Red Wines from Provence with Lamb Meatballs: Domaine Hauvette and Clos Cibonne”