Wine Authorities last week asking if I could possibly help out on Saturday with the scheduled tasting. Alain de Welle from Domaine Pinchinat, in my beloved Provence, was coming to town to pour his wines in Durham. Could I come and help out? Perhaps translate a bit and help pour? I shrieked with joy and quickly accepted. Perhaps they were afraid I would camp out for three hours at the end of the tasting bar just to listen to French being spoken? Oh, who cares. Ça m'est égal. It's all the same to moi, just as long as I am invited.
I had so much fun. First, I met his charming wife and two sons, here for vacation. Then, Alain and Bruno, the importer, born French but living in the US for 25 years now and working for Wine Without Borders, started off the tasting.
He adds the smallest amount of sulfites possible and guarantees that his wines will not give you a headache the next day. What a guy. (Although from a lot of articles that I have read, there is not conclusive evidence that sulfites cause headaches. A lot of people think that they are only present in red wine, but whites also contain sulfites, sometimes in higher quantity than reds.)
Alain poured two whites, two rosés, and two reds. The first in each color, his vin de pays, Vénus, and the second, Côtes de Provence, his AOC wines. The AOC designation is given to agricultural products from certain regions and it is based on the idea of terroir or what the soil, weather conditions, surrounding vegetation and farming techniques give to a product. There are AOC wines, cheeses, hay, honey, and many other products. The AOC designation was first given to wine in 1905 and was used to protect regional winemakers. The Côtes de Provence designation covers wines in the Var and Bouches-du-Rhône départements. Grapes used by Alain in his wines include vermentino, clairette, grenache, syrah, cinsault, mourvèdre, cabernet sauvignon, and merlot.
The Venus wines are named for the Vénus de Pinchinat, a statue found on his property over 200 years ago. Vénus now lives in the museum in Avignon. I intend to visit her next March when I am back in Avignon.
Vénus de Milo in the Louvre
Alain's Côtes de Provence wines have a Roman pottery jug on the label.
Arles Lucy came at the end of the tasting and joined us.
She and I have been big fans of Alain's rosé since we first found it at Wine Authorities. This photo is one of my favorites, taken in her kitchen.
The whites and reds are both excellent, also. He uses no barrels to age his wine, so there is no oak taste present, just the fruit. His wines age in stainless or concrete (yes, concrete-- I had no idea.)
I have all three colors chez moi.
I got an autographed bottle from Arles Lucy as a birthday gift--
It was a wonderful way to spend my Saturday afternoon-- pouring wine, speaking French, talking about food, meeting great people who love wine and food (and some who speak French beautifully), and making a new friend. I hope to visit the de Welle family in 2012, and their vineyard at the foot of Mt. Saint Victoire in Pourrières.
Bon appétit, les Welle, mes nouveaux amis! C'était un vrai plaisir de faire votre connaissance! À la prochaine!