Steve’s Tasting Tour of French Wine continues with this tasting notes from the wines of Southern France.

by VineSleuth Contributing Writer, Steve Gross

After delving into several of the widely-distributed wines from Southern France, I’ve reached a few conclusions. Note, however, that the sample size is small. This is due to the fact that there aren’t a whole lot of these wines on the shelves of my local wine shop. I find more pink wines from this region (Tavel, Bandol) than others. And we already covered the roses in a previous post.

I was glad to come across the Picpoul de Pinet, and I’ll introduce this wine to friends who like drinkable, light, and refreshing whites (a real plus during Houston’s long, humid summers). Prices for these Southern wines are relatively low (the highest price I paid for a wine this month was $27, and most were just above $10), and most of these unassuming wines are user-friendly, to be sure.

There was a hit-and-miss element to this month’s tastings, since a wide variety of grapes are used in the wines (see my previous post for details on that). Some were really nice, like the Domaine Delsol Picpoul de Pinet and the Domaine Sorin Cotes de Provence. Others were not so great.

This year of tasting French wines has taught me the importance of trying A LOT of different wines. I’ve learned a lot more about what I like and what constitutes a well-made wine. I’ve learned to appreciate the great variety of satisfying wines that France has to offer. I’ll have to get to the rest of the world starting January 1st.

Next month, the Loire Valley. I can’t wait to taste what French winemakers can do with Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chenin Blanc, just to name a few. Stay tuned.

Tasting Notes from the Wines of Southern France

Domaine Delsol Picpoul de Pinet $9
Nice straw color
Some petrol on nose, but not off-putting
Bright acidity, Sweet grapefruit and bit of orange pulp
No bitterness on finish
Good wine for a warm summer day

Font-Mars Picpoul de Pinet $9
Slight bit of petrol on the nose, with lemon curd
More lemon than apple, but both on palate
Refreshing, fleshy, with short finish; not as enjoyable as the other Picpoul de Pinet

Pere Anselme Syrah  $11
Corked, so I couldn’t sample it.

Domaine Sorin Cotes de Provence 2006 $27
Mourvedre blend
Really wonderful nose, full of earthy aromas, like cedar, handfuls of rich soil, and dark berry fruit. Strong oak presence, but not overpowering.
In the mouth, tart cherry, dried cranberry, dries the mouth, but not in an overbearing way. This wine will stand up well to food and got better as the bottle progressed, as a bit of sweetness emerged. Nice wine.

Long Duck Cabernet Sauvignon $8
Deep ruby color with a bit of purple
Pruny aromas immediately on the nose, kind of plasticky with an artificial sweetness
Not very pleasing, quite dry, with notes of raisins and petroleum. Hard to find anything natural here.

Tortoise Creek Pinot Noir “Les Oliviers” 2010 $15
Very little Pinot character here. Artificial aromas, with some tart cherry flavors, possibly from added acid, but little nuance or subtlety. I’ve had this before and liked it much more.

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