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Lavender Fields Forever: Sipping Luberon Rosé in the Rhône Valley

When July rolls around we’re longing for Provence and the chance to see first-hand the lavender fields in bloom. It’s still on our bucket list; we are not there, yet, despite having spent many lazy, late summer days visiting friends with a house in the Luberon, usually end of August.

Lavender fields in bloom in the Luberon during summer The wines have timeless appeal year-round.

But we did have the chance to visit the Luberon in May for a wine tour of  the southern Rhône Valley.  The weather was warm and dry, and the buses of tourists were still thankfully sparse. May is a great time to visit before the summer crowds descend. While no lavender was in bloom, there were other blooms a’plenty. Numerous bright yellow wildflowers and orange-red poppies dotted the fields, and orchards were filled with blooming cherry and apricot trees. 

We’ve always been fans of Luberon rosé and tasted several during our visit. The styles of rosé in the Luberon can range from crisp and dry to fresh, floral and fruity. Rosé wines make up 52 percent of the wines produced in AOC Luberon  which was established in 1988. Vines are cultivated on both sides of the Luberon mountain range at altitudes of 200 to 350 meters above sea level, which adds to the wines’ freshness and purity. The primary red grapes are Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault. Soils vary from limestone to clay and red sand. The climate can range from Mediterranean warm to very cool nights.

It was a busy market day when we visited the Maison de la Truffe et du Vin du Luberon in Ménerbes to taste a few wines with three producers:  Lionel Bourgue, Domaine de la Citadelle,   Nathalie Margan, Chateau La CanorgueChristian Ruffinatto, Domaine Ruffinatto –  and Thomas Montagne Chateau de Clapier.

At Maison de la Truffe et du Vin Menerbes with Christian Ruffinatto, Domaine Ruffinatto; Nathalie Margan, Chateau La Canorgue and Thomas Montagne, Chateau de Clapier

Later in the afternoon, we visited Château la Canorgue, a 200-year-old family-owned estate in Bonnieux and the first organic winery in the Luberon.  The winery is run Jean-Pierre Margan with his daughter, Nathalie, who represents the fifth generation of winegrowers. The wines are recognized around the world.

Vineyards at Château la Canorgue in Bonnieux.

Visitors may recognize Château la Canorgue from Filmmaker Ridley Scott’s “A Good Year,” with Russell Crowe and Marion Cotillard. The estate was a setting for the movie. The Margans remain nonplussed when tourists arrive to snap fan photos. While at Château la Canorgue, we sat down with Nathalie Margan to discuss  styles of AOC Luberon rosé, which range from a light pink grapefruit citrus squeeze to an embrace of fresh wild strawberries.

AOC Luberon Rhône Valley rosés possess terrific minerality, complexity and freshness. These are not one-size-fits all rosés; a sense of place is evident from the first sip. You just want to reach for a salad chèvre chaud, fresh grilled seafood with vegetables drizzled with local olive oil.

 

Simple, fresh-grilled vegetables are perfect with Luberon rosé wines

 

Listen to our visit with Nathalie Margan on The Connected Table SIPS. Click image below or visit iHeart.com at this link

For more information on AOC Luberon and its wines, visit: www.vin-luberon-fr

 

 

We love the Luberon! With Nathalie Margan at Château la Canorgue

 

 

 

 

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Sipping with Marc Perrin, Famille Perrin

Famille Perrin, owner of Château de Beaucastel in Chateaneuf-du-Pape, has been making wine in the Rhône region of France for centuries.  The family has practiced organic farming since the 1950s and biodynamic farming since the 1970s.  Marc Perrin, fifth generation winemaker, recently sat down with us to taste the latest release of La Vielle Ferme, the family’s top-selling wines from the Luberon in the southern Rhône. We were familiar with La Vielle Ferme’s white, red and rosé still wines, which are all solid quality-for-value wines for everyday enjoyment, but we had not tried tasted the brand’s new sparkling wines.

Perrin told us his family spent five years developing a process, which he refers to as “mêthode contemporaine,” to produce their sparkling wines which involved introducing CO2 into the wine just before bottling. The result is a delicate effervescence, which Perrin referred to as a mousse of bubbles. For anyone who prefers a tiny-bubbles frizzante-style wines, this is delightful option at a favorable price of $16.99.

Both wines are made from grapes planted in limestone soil, which enhanced their balanced acidity and minerality. Light and refreshing on the palate, both are perfect wines for a casual meal and had us dreaming of outdoor picnics come summertime.  La Vielle Ferme is imported by Vineyard Brands.  Twitter@vineyard_brands

La Vielle Ferme Réserve Rosé is a blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Pinot Noir that delivers a light whiff of fresh raspberries and strawberries balanced with a touch of grapefruit.

La Vielle Ferme Brut, a 100 percent Chardonnay, rests on the lees with a light consistent battonage, resulting in a soft roundness on the palate with a touch of toasted hazelnut.

 

 

 

 

 

Melanie, Marc Perrin and David enjoy  glass of La Vielle Ferme sparkling rosé.  Listen to our podcast with Marc on The Connected Table SIPS. Click the image below or here: The Connected Table SIPS