Tavel: The Rosé of Kings

The “Rosé of Kings”, Tavel has been the world’s most famous producer of rosé for over 200 years, although wine has been made here since Roman times.  It is said that Tavel was the favorite wine of King Philippe IV, Philippe le Bel, as well as François I.  It was also undoubtedly enjoyed by the popes who reigned during the Avignon papacy in the 14thcentury. We review several current releases of the Rosé of Kings (and Popes) below. Additional articles on the 2018 rosés will be published on this site in the coming days.

With 111 producers and about one thousand hectares of vines, Tavel lies on the west bank of the Rhone south of Avignon, a warm area of chalky, limestone soils. The modern pioneer of the region is the Chateau d’Aqueria, which was founded in 1919 and was the first Tavel exported to the US in 1948. With Grenache often leading the Tavel blend with additions of Syrah, the wines are often dark in color for a rosé. The saignée method typically followed in the region, combined with global warming, also means that alcohol levels can be high.

Avignon

Rosés pair with a wide variety of dishes but pair especially well with appetizers such as  charcuterie and boldly flavored roasted vegetables.  Tavel’s ripe red berries and garrigue and moderate acidity make it a good pairing partner with certain preparations of poultry, veal, pork and even venison.  Most significantly, Tavels are generally consistent in their flavor profile across producers.  In general, they are better suited for pairing with food than sipping on their own.  See our article “Rose and Food: Enlivening the Meal”  for helpful recommendations to readers on pairing rosé with food more generally.

The Wines

Alain Jaume 2017 Le Crétacé Tavel ($20) 92 Star bright light red. This rosé shows better balance than many Tavel wines. It offers fresh red cherries and berries on the nose and beautiful, pure fruit on the palate with firm acidity. The finish is long, rich and dry. Moderate alcohol and a super food wine. Made saignée style. 13.5 alc  Importer: Kysela Pere et Fils, Ltd Winchester, VA

Château d’Aqueria 2017 Rosé Tavel ($20) 90   This Tavel displays a light ruby red color and has effuse   perfumed aromas of fresh red berry and cherry with a rose petal accent. Big on the palate with concentrated fresh red berry flavors and a lingering finish. 45% Grenache, 20% Clairette, 15% Cinsault, 8% Mourvedre, 6% Syrah, 4% Bourboulenc, and 2% Piquepoul.  Importer: Kobrand Corporation Purchase, NY

Domaine Corne-Loup 2018 Rosé Tavel ($16) 90 Traditional Tavel made of 65% Grenache, 15% Cinsault, 10% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre, Clairette and Carignan. Fruit forward and easy drinking with good flavor intensity showing ripe red berries with spice and interesting floral notes. Finishes dry with very good persistence. Good value. 14% alc  Importer: Kysela Pere et Fils, Ltd Winchester, VA

Domaine de la Mordorée 2018 Rosé Dame Rousse Tavel ($26) 91 Medium pink rose. Made from 40 year old vines cultivated biodynamically, this is classic Tavel with alluring scents of red cherry skin and ripe, sun-drenched raspberry. A crisp attack introduces the medium weight palate with lovely, fresh dark red plum and berries complemented by spice and savory notes. Finishes very long. A blend of 60% Grenache, 10% Cinsuat, 10% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, 5% Clairette, and 5% Bourboulenc. Consistently one of our favorite Tavels.  Importer: Kysela Pere et Fils, Ltd Winchester, VA

Domaine LaRocalière 2017 Le Classique Rosé Tavel 90 This is textbook Tavel with an expressive nose of red plum and dried strawberry. Fresh and crisp on the attack, the palate is plump and ripe with good depth of fruit and notes of stony minerals and a hint of salinity. A blend of 60% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, and 10% Syrah; alc 14%.   Importer: Elite Wines Lorton, VA

 

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