Sunday, 27 September 2015

An Evening in Provence

Even the name is evocative, Provence, we all think of sunshine, of foods and, for the members of the Wine Club, wines.  So it was for this meeting of the Club that we were very fortunate to have as our guest speakers and long time visitors to Provence, Jayne and Dan, presenting.  The title, wines and foods of Provence.

They were able tell and allow us to taste a very impressive selection of wines and foods of the region, but before a look at those a look at the speakers, Jayne and Dan Jennings, many thanks, you gave a great talk about 'your' part of France.

The evening started with a background to the wine industry in Provence, an area of Europe which has been producing wines and mainly Rosé wines for a very long time, back to the time of the Greeks no less. So here is an area with a very strong and robust wine culture.  Most wine is the Rosé type.

As such we enjoyed their Rosé wines and their reds, for the first time no white wines were available for us to taste , and quite right to as the white wines that are available are eclipsed by both the numbers  and the qualities of the reds and Rosé wines.  It seems that nearly 90% of wine is Rosé. This figure is coming back a little but really this is the area for Rosé wines, wines that have seen considerable sales growth of the last two or three years.

In addition to the wines we also enjoyed typical foods to accompany the wines.

In that part of France, the idea of 'Aperos' is a major social means of sharing food and wine with friends. Jayne was able to tell us how this works....what could be easier, Rosé and a mix of easy finger foods, tomatoes, saucisson, baguette and tapenade.   In theory  drinks before dinner, in fact this often extends to drinks rather than dinner. Sounds good.

The tapenade we made for the evening, it tasted just fine and the recipe for this is below.

The wines were very much of the area or terroir as the French would say. As mentioned the Rosé wines are THE wines of Provence, it seems fitting then to start with three of these wines.

The first, one of two this night from local cave in the village of Jayne and Dan, Plan de la Tour.

The Les Marquets and it's wine, La Reference. The taste and the lingering of that unique mix of flavours takes one back to Province. The warmth, the foods, the relaxation with friends. Yes all there in the bottle and the following bottles. A fine wine and a reasonable priced bottle - a great wine to start with. Accompanied by local foods. We were all in Provence now and enjoying a fruity, multi layer wine that stayed in the mouth well.   This a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault.  (We tasted a number of grapes that 'till now were unknown to us like this - Cinsault)

One of the major names of wine production in the area is the Domain Minuty, so our next tasting of the 2014 Prestige was very interesting, with a completely different blend, Mourverde, Tibouren and Cinsault - more new grapes again.  So how was it, well it was to some at least not as complex as the previous (half priced previous wine) but also very good. More subtle and with more fruit.

The last of the Rose's was the Sainte Roseline Cuvee de la Chapelle.

This a  blend but only just!  95% Mourvedre with a top up of Syrah. Different again, of course. A fine Rosé, priced at 17.5 € at the vineyard, and it has to be said quite pricey for a wine in France.  A lovely smooth and becoming wine with no bad habits.

The reds were a reflection of the climate and land, this is a tough area with poor and little soils, low rain and a great deal of sun. The reds somehow showed this in the flavours and taste. Good but robust wines.

The first was the from the local vigneron in the village, the supplier of our first wine. This a fine red, smooth and hearty, not meant in any way  to reduce the impression of quality of the wine, this was a cracker. Good to have with a good daube.

The wine: Les Marquets Rouge 2010

Interestingly this was  Cabernet and Syrah blend. A good length of flavour and just the right amount of Tannins. The wine has 12 months on French Oak.

Then back to the Sainte Roseline Vineyard to taste their  Cru Classe Red, 2010.  This was a fine wine, very smooth with a long finish. masses of fruit and a low level of Tannis. a blend of 70% Syrah and 30% Cabernet. This vineyard is one of the few (14) with the status of Cru. This wine and the  Rosé both enjoy such status.

So to the last wine of the evening, and for this we are back to the Minuty vineyard to enjoy, and enjoy we did the Rouge et Or.  Again priced at 20€ at the vineyard. A lovely wine, so silky but with a depth of fruit and a pleasant linger in  the mouth. This another 95% Mourvedre blend but this time with just a touch of Grenache.  Delectable!

The cheeses, all good came from The isle of Mull , can you believe as well as locally. One food that was very well recieved was the Tapanade. The recipe for this is:


300g of stoned black olives.     Not in bottles, Waitrose do a small tub in the Essential range, also the Thursday Market has a good supplier.

2 tablespoons of Salted capers, rinsed and well drained
2 anchovy fillets
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 sprig of Thyme, just the leaves
c 4 Tablespoons of olive oil

Put all the ingredients in a food processor and blend to the consistency you want. It shouldn't be a smooth paste, leave some texture. 

It's very good with wine but also spread over lamb , fish or chicken prior to cooking.

Keep it in the fridge

(Ref: Alex MacKay - Cooking in Provence Headline Publications)

The mid meeting talk was on the subject of Technology - Blogs, Websites, and Apps, all good and all available for the wine lover. Apps do need a smart phone.

Here are the links to the Blogs.

Olly Smith, a very able and wine writer with hosts this interesting site with links to his Blog, Website, Twitter, etc.  He writes for the Daily Mail and is a regular on Saturday Kitchen. A raft of regular features as well as 'Wines of  the Week'

Helen McGinn. The Knackered Mothers's Wine Club.

A very amusing Blog but always with two topical recommendations.

Then brilliant Fiona Becket's Blog, the clue is in the title:

Matching Food and Wine

But much, much more than just that.

This will take you there:


Fiona Becket also rights for the Guardian, a very good article each week, but in addition the Guardian has a great Wine Site, masses of good stuff to peruse, as with the Telegraph, here the links:

The Daily Telegraph: This will take you there:

The WOT WINE site is one that values wine via blind tastings by experts, all the methodology on the site.

This will take you there


The standout APP for use on the Smart Phone is the VIVINO App. 
Searches, info, suppliers, qualities, all from the label photo you send via WIFI.   In the Supermarket, in the restaurant, at your own home. A great way to build a database of your own wine buys.

All of the above are free by the way. All give access to great and current info. 

I have yet to try Olly Smith's App, I suspect this would be very good. He is someone who has embraces  technology and uses it well.


Date of next meeting

The last meeting of the year is the Christmas Knees up, both statements untrue, we meet in November but it always seems to be the start of Christmas.  Also I don't think we do have our knees up but I can say its a very good social evening.

The date FRIDAY 27th November.

Those that have been to the evening in the past will know you are asked to bring a plate of food and instead of the usual format, we relax with some good foods and wines.

Thats all folks!

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