A Deeper Shade of Pink

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Bandol's Chateau Pibarnon bucks the trend of rosé lite

It’s summertime, which can mean firing up the grill, switching off the brain, and pouring lots of rosé—sometimes even over ice.

The world has developed a thirst for highly quaffable, ultrapale rosé, and Provence is its main supplier. By today’s fashion, the lighter the better. (See my blog post on how research into aesthetic preferences has shaded the color of Provence rosé.)

Now, I don’t mean to be a Provence party pooper, but I want to talk about a smaller school of winemakers—let’s call them rosé resisters—who are bucking the trend by making darker, more substantial and complex rosés.

One noteworthy resister is Eric de Saint Victor of Château de Pibarnon in Bandol—the small coastal appellation neighboring the much larger Côtes de Provence. Since 2000, when he took over his family’s stunningly gorgeous 130-acre spread high in the hills above the Mediterranean coast, he has focused not just on Bandol’s flagship powerful reds, but on rich rosés meant to stand up to the local cuisine’s strong flavors, like garlic, saffron, anchovies, sea urchin and roast peppers.

"In Côtes de Provence the higher up you go [in price], the lighter the wine—to where it’s almost a white,” says the blue-eyed Saint Victor, 52, from a hilltop vineyard on a breezy early summer day. “In Bandol, that’s not our way. In Bandol we are used to looking for concentration—even in rosé.”

A Deeper Shade of Pink

RC_Victor071116_1600.jpg

Bandol's Chateau Pibarnon bucks the trend of rosé lite

It’s summertime, which can mean firing up the grill, switching off the brain, and pouring lots of rosé—sometimes even over ice.

The world has developed a thirst for highly quaffable, ultrapale rosé, and Provence is its main supplier. By today’s fashion, the lighter the better. (See my blog post on how research into aesthetic preferences has shaded the color of Provence rosé.)

Now, I don’t mean to be a Provence party pooper, but I want to talk about a smaller school of winemakers—let’s call them rosé resisters—who are bucking the trend by making darker, more substantial and complex rosés.

One noteworthy resister is Eric de Saint Victor of Château de Pibarnon in Bandol—the small coastal appellation neighboring the much larger Côtes de Provence. Since 2000, when he took over his family’s stunningly gorgeous 130-acre spread high in the hills above the Mediterranean coast, he has focused not just on Bandol’s flagship powerful reds, but on rich rosés meant to stand up to the local cuisine’s strong flavors, like garlic, saffron, anchovies, sea urchin and roast peppers.

“In Côtes de Provence the higher up you go [in price], the lighter the wine—to where it’s almost a white,” says the blue-eyed Saint Victor, 52, from a hilltop vineyard on a breezy early summer day. “In Bandol, that’s not our way. In Bandol we are used to looking for concentration—even in rosé.”

Vermentino: A Love Story

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The broken heart behind Cantine Lunae Bosoni's success

As Paolo Bosoni tells it, he was born in a Vermentino vineyard overlooking northwest Italy’s Ligurian coast during the 1946 harvest.

“My mother was bringing lunch for the harvesters when her water broke,” he says. The birth was complicated: His umbilical cord had wrapped around his neck in the womb. “When the doctor arrived, I was blue, and he told my mother, ‘This baby will never be normal.’”

The infant Bosoni quickly recovered and grew into a strapping youth who took the location of his birth as a sign of his destiny—to work in the vineyards.

At 13 years old, Bosoni's plan for the future was given a boost by heartbreak, after he proposed marriage to his first love—a local schoolgirl.

“It was pure love,” he says, a boyish smile creasing his weathered face, accented by his white mustache. “We were engaged, but she broke up with me because I was a contadino [peasant]. Nobody wanted to marry a contadino. She wanted a future.”

Bosoni says that incident drove him “to do something with my life—to be someone.”

Today, at 70, Bosoni is very much somebody—regarded, among Italy’s star winemakers, as the maestro of Vermentino...read the full blog (free) at winespectator.com

Bubble Head

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Italians have a thing with bubbles. A big thing.
 
France still consumes more sparkling wine, but in my non-scientific observations over 15 years living in Europe, Italians seem to enjoy it more.
 
Go to any restaurant or bar terrace on a warm evening in northern Italy and watch the endless flow of Prosecco, Franciacorta, other vini spumanti or frizzanti and spritzes. Italians don’t sip daintily at their bubbles or serve them in little flutes. Look at those generous glasses and see the way people seem to simultaneously swirl, drink, talk, laugh and gesticulate.
 
Some attribute bubble-mania to the Italian temperament.

High in the Dolomites: Martin Foradori of Hofstatter

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From a high slope on the east side of the Adige Valley that cuts across the Dolomite foothills, Martin Foradori explains some of northern Italy’s strangely un-Italian terroirs.

“My winery is built on two pillars—Pinot Noir and Gewürztraminer,” Foradori says. Gewürztraminer dominates on the western side of the valley, around the village of Tramin, which gets morning sun. Pinot Noir is more adapted to the eastern side. “The evening sun is cooler than the morning sun, so the microclimate is fresher,” he explains. “Here we are in Pinot-land.”

Pinot Noir? Gewürztraminer? In Italy?

Welcome to the Alto Adige, Italy’s bilingual Tyrolean stepchild, adopted nearly a century ago after World War I—and now known for some of Italy’s top white wines and intriguing reds.

Foradori, 46, is deputy mayor of Tramin (or Termeno if you use the Italian name over the German one), which is home to his J. Hofstätter winery. It’s a postcard-perfect village, population 3,300, that looks like it came right out of the Sound of Music.

Foradori is considered a gifted interpreter of the vineyards here...read the full blog at winespectator.com 

Life changing whites

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Terlano sets the bar high in the Italian Dolomites

In Italy, “wine cooperative” can be a pejorative, synonymous with grape-buying collectives that produce oceans of basic wine destined for supermarkets.

Northeastern Italy’s Alto Adige is an exception, known for co-ops that produce wines as good as those from top independent winemakers. Here, on the edge of the Dolomites, just six miles northwest of the regional capital, Bolzano, Cantina Terlano produces some of Italy’s most prized—and most historic—white wines.

How good? Since it began exporting its wines in the mid-1990s, this cooperative has released 73 wines that scored 90 points or higher in Wine Spectator's blind tastings. Something special seems to happen to white grapes—particularly Pinot Bianco—grown in the quartz-rich volcanic soils (known as red porphyry) at up to 3,000 feet in the hills above sleepy Terlano (pop. 4,200).

“It’s a different culture here,” says enologist Klaus Gasser, 48, who has been the winery’s public face for 20 years. He is maneuvering a four-wheel-drive up steep, narrow roads flanked by terraced vineyards and tidy, white stucco Tyrolean farmhouses. “It’s a little bit more organized. It’s the German spirit of taking care of the land.”

Indeed, the Alto Adige, or South Tyrol, was annexed by Italy from the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918....read the full blog at winespectator.com

 

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