They go back a long way do wine and Provence….some 2,500 years of swirling and slurping, laughter and carousing with the Greeks, Romans, Catalans, Gauls, and whoever else seemed to be tromping through the area at the time, all having their fill of the local product over the years.
Bandol, you would have to agree, is where the big guns lie……where the most famous wines come from and rosé production is massive….granted, the vast majority of it is fairly average….. but it does a fine job of quenching the thirst of the ruddy-cheeked tourists visiting the region and wanting a slice of the local vinous action.
The Côtes de Provence AOC in the East produces the majority of the wine….some 75% of Provence’s total output and 80% of that is rosé….but the region we are looking at with this wine lies way over in the West near Avignon….and that region is the Les Baux-de-Provence AOC. Alas this particular AOC doesn’t allow for the production of white wine so the Domaine Milan Le Grand Blanc is relegated to the lowly Vin de Table category but on tasting, there is no doubt it soars well above that particular moniker.
Henri Milan took over the family estate from his Father in 1986 after returning from military service. The 3.5ha of vineyards lie close to the town of St Remy de Provence in the lee of the Apilles mountains and are farmed organically, being certified by Ulase and Qualite France since 1997. Low inputs in the winery also with Henri using only natural yeasts, no additives and minimal sulphur at bottling…..in fact some of his bottlings are totally sans souffre.
The blend here is Grenache Blanc, Rolle (the local name for Vermentino), Roussanne, Chardonnay and Muscat Petit Grains. The vineyards lie on clay with calcareous screes over a subsoil of blue shale and all the fruit is picked by hand. After pressing the juice is drained straight to 225 and 350L barriques, undergoing a wild ferment, regular battonage and a light fining before bottling with minimal SO2. Clay with calcareous screes over a subsoil of blue shale. Clay with calcareous screes over a subsoil of blue shale.
Pale straw in hue with fresh, jump out of the glass aromas of pithy pear, grapefruit & lemon with hints of nettle, marzipan, lavender potpourri, stone, nougat and Provencal herbs. Further in the background there are wafts of red cherry, clotted cream, funk and struck flint smoke…..just a hint of V.A…..more of a lift to the aroma rather than anything of concern, giving the wine character….in fact, it is a really attractive smelling wine with that intriguing herbal edge.
There’s richness here on the palate…..fresh and nervy with great energy and exuberance….plenty of detail to the flavours also. Crunchy pear and citrus fruits, studded with spice, Provencal herbs, nettle, minerals, almond paste, stone & dried flowers. Plenty of creamy nuance in the background with notes of marzipan and grilled nuts with that attractive herbal seam swaying through the wine. The acid structure is lively and just dripping with minerality and the finish is balanced and lingers on nicely. Delicious stuff.
Price: $42 – Closure: Cork – Alcohol: 13% – Source: Sample – Importer: Living Wines