Provence, White Wine

Sep 1, 2014
2014 / August 2014

In a region where 89.5 percent of the wine production is rosé, whites have a very small voice. Provence, that glorious stretch in the south of France where sunflowers seem to smile and fields of lavender waft their perfume across the countryside, is the only French wine region where rosé dominates. But hidden behind this sea of rosés are lovely, virtually unknown whites. While they account for only 3.5 percent of Provence’s output (the remaining 7 percent is red), they are nature’s perfection for summer sipping.

One attractive example is Domaine Houchart 2013 ($15), a blend of 75 percent Clairette and 25 percent Rolle (France’s name for Italy’s Vermentino grape). Its color is pale, just barely tinted, so its fresh, forward aroma may be a surprise — a mix of flowers and summer fruits with a hint of citrus and a touch of honey. Its texture is silky, and an aftertaste reminds one of Provence itself.

Château Pas du Cerf 2013 also pale-shaded, combines Rolle and Sémillon to produce a tasty wine, vigorous and minerally and steely, young and snappy. It sells for $15.

Château La Mascaronne 2012 produces Vita Bella, a blend of Rolle and Ugni Blanc, also pale in color. Its fruity aroma and round-textured body combine with a quiet acidity and medium finish. Expect to pay $20 to $25.

Première de Figuière 2013 is the product of the winery Saint André de Figuière. The most expensive of these whites at $32, it is a blend of Rolle and Sémillon. The wine’s brighter yellow color combines with an aromatic mixture of herbs and earth on the nose. The body is smooth, the finish medium-long.

Château La Tour de L’Évêque labels its 2013 white wine Blanc de Blancs, a white wine from a blend of Rolle and Sémillon. Less forward in its flavors than the other Provence whites I tasted, its appeal is soft and inviting with quiet charm; it is priced at $25.

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