Provençal Carignan

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Following on from the successful Israeli Carignan tasting, I decided to look more closely at Provencal wines made from Carignan.

Until the 1970s, Carignan was one of the main grapes of Provence, blended with Grenache and Cinsault to make classic Provençal red and rosé wines. Grenache provided the fruit and sugar, Cinsault the charm and floral notes, Carignan the tannin and acidity.

However, Carignan’s main claim to fame was its potential for high yields. It was regarded as a poor quality grape – tough, unyielding and lacking in charm, a cash crop. Efforts to raise the quality of wine in Provence led to changes in the appellation regulations in the 1970s and restrictions in planting Carignan. As a result, much of the Carignan vines in Provence date from the 1970s or earlier. Continue reading

Tasting of IGP Alpes Maritimes wines

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The tasting, hosted by ASNCAP at Chateau de Crémat had been a year in the planning, sourcing some of the more obscure and often private domaines which make up the patchwork of burgeoning wine culture in the Alpes Maritimes. There were some domaines missing – but all in all it was a good introduction to the wines of the region and hopefully this will become an annual event – maybe to one day include all the wines produced in the department.

The tasting was finished with a lunch served by La Kitchenette.

Of the seven domains showing their wines, only one producer was from the Bellet appellation, the remaining six domains, one came from Menton and five came from west of the Var river, from St Jeannet, Tourettes sur Loup, St Paul de Vence, Mougins and Mandelieu. Of these, only the vineyards of Les Vignobles des Hautes Collines de Cote d’Azur, were long established. The others were showing wines made from either young vines or vines outside the limits of the appellation.

The youth of the vines on the rest of the domaines (apart from a small amount of ‘old vines’ included in blends) showed their immaturity in the wines with a generally light fruit character and fresh acidity. But, judging by the enthusiasm of the winemakers and vineyard owners, these are definitely vineyards to watch as the wines of the Alpes Maritimes develop.

No clear regional style has yet been developed, with vineyards being planted with a wide range of grapes including classic Provencal varieties (Grenache, Cinsault, Carignan, Mourvedre, Tibouren, Rolle, Clairette, Ugni Blanc) Rhone varieties (Syrah and Viognier); Bellet varieties (Folle Noir and Braquet) and other varieties (Chasan (Listan x Chardonnay), Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat à Petits Grains, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Marselan (Cabernet Sauvignon x Grenache) and the unknown Grassenc (possibly a synonym for Folle Noir) and Malunvern.

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