When you think of wine from the Rhône Valley, red wine probably comes to mind first; after all, approximately 86% of the wine production is red. But the Rhône Valley also produces white, rosé, sparkling, late harvest, and sweet fortified wines. One Rhône Valley AOC is dedicated solely to making rosé. The Tavel AOC, one of nine crus located in the Southern Rhône, is 100% rosé.
This month the French Winophiles are exploring the diversity found in France’s Rhône Valley. Check out more articles at the bottom of this post and join our Twitter chat on Saturday, January 21st, at 11:00 AM ET. Use the hashtag #Winophiles to participate.
Where is the Tavel AOC
The Tavel AOC is located in the Southern Rhône at the very bottom of this map. It is west of Chateauneuf-du-Pape AOC and northwest of the city of Avignon.
How does Tavel Rosé Taste
Tavel rosé must be made via the Saignee method. It is often noted for its deep pink color from extended skin maceration any where from 6 to 72 hours; however 10 to 36 hours is the most common. Extended skin maceration also concentrates and gives structure to the wine.
The main grape varieties used and their characteristics to look for in the glass
Grenache Noir – high alcohol with flavors of strawberry, wild cherry, prune, licorice, and spice
Syrah – densely pigment and high tannins with flavors of raspberry, black currant, cherry, plum, pepper, sundried tomatoes, herbs, and cocoa
Mourvèdre – densely pigmented with high alcohol, tannins, and acidity
Cinsault – supple tannins and red fruit aromas
Grenache Blanc – full-bodied with flavors of green apple and pears and white flower aromas
Clairette – high alcohol and flavors of apricot, apple, peach, fennel, and lime
Bourboulenc – high acidity and aromas of citrus and smoke
My Tasting Notes
2021 Brotte Tavel Les Églantiers
13% abv | ~$20.00 | Mainly Grenache and Syrah
Deep salmon in color with a copper hue. On the nose aromas of fresh wild strawberries and nectarines. On the palate, medium(+) body, medium acidity, and medium tannins. The texture is soft with balanced acidity and tannins. Flavors of wild strawberries, raspberries, blood oranges, and nectarines. The wine is elegant and easy on the palate.
2021 Les Vignerons de Tavel & Lirac, Tavel Les Lauzeraies
13.5% abv | $16.00 wine.com | Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Mourvedre, Clairette, & Picpoul
Deep pink in color. Aromas of ripe red berries and spices jump out of the glass. On the palate, medium(+) body, medium acidity, and medium tannins. The mouthfeel is full and luscious. Flavors of cassis, strawberries, raspberries, pomegranate, anise, and minerals. A hint of tannin and white pepper on the finish.
2021 Domaine LaFond, Tavel Roc-Épine
13.5% abv | ~$25.00 | Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, and several other Rhône varietals
Medium pink in color with amber reflections. Aromas of violets, minerals, and stone fruit. On the palate, medium(+) body, medium(+) acidity, and medium(+) tannins. The mouthfeel is supple. Flavor notes of strawberries, cherries, spices, and minerals. The wine is well structured with lingering complex layers of flavor.
What Foods to Pair with Tavel
Tavel has a Mediterranean climate which leads me to the regional foods of Southern France. Unlike the rosés of Provence, Tavel rosé is more concentrated, structured, and fuller-bodied. Tavel is a rosé that can pair with Mediterranean foods like fish soup, seafood pasta, Nicoise salad or even a slightly spicy Middle Eastern-style lamb pie. This is a rosé that can be enjoyed year- round, especially with autumn and winter fare.
My first pairing was Harissa Mussels, pictured above. I used rose harissa which gave a hint of heat, and added layers of flavors. The Domaine LaFond was my preferred pairing with the mussels. The wine’s fruity notes, minerality, soft texture, and acidity played perfectly with the mussels.
- a large heavy dutch oven I used a 5 qt. Le Creuset
- extra virgin olive oil I like California Olive Ranch medium "Global Blend" for cooking
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1 large white onion, halved and sliced into half moons
- 6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 heaping teaspoons rose harissa
- 2½ lb. mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
- 1¼ cups dry white wine
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 tablespoon Kosher sea salt I use Redmond
- 1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
- Over medium-high heat add 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil to cover the bottom of your dutch oven. Add the butter. When the butter is melted, add the onions and sauté until they are soft and starting to turn golden. Stir in the garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Mix in the harissa. Add the mussels and stir to coat them with the sauce. Stir in the wine, honey, and salt. Cover the pot with a tight lid for about 5 minutes or until the mussels have opened.
- Remove the lid and give the mussels a good stir. Discard any unopened mussels. Sprinkle the mussels with chopped parsley and serve with a French baguette for mopping up the sauce.
My second pairing was Middle Eastern Lamb Pies. The spices in the lamb pies were a great pairing with the flavor notes found in the Tavel wines. In addition, the structure and fuller body of the wines stood up to the heavier and spice-driven lamb pies. My favorite pairing here was the Les Lauzeraies.
Middle Eastern Lamb Pies
For the Dough
- 1½ teaspoon fast-acting dried yeast
- 1 teaspoon fine white sugar
- 3/4 cup lukewarm water
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon dried milk powder
- 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt
- 7 tablespoons- divided extra virgin olive oil
- 9 oz. freshly ground lamb
- 1 small white onion, finely chopped
- 2/3 cup tomato, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons tahini
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo chile flakes
- 1/2 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1½ teaspoons sumac
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
For the Dough
- In a small bowl add the yeast, salt and lukewarm water. Stir to combine and set aside for 5 minutes or until it starts to bubble.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer, add the flour, milk powder, turmeric, and salt. Using the dough hook, mix to combine the ingredients. Add the yeast mixture, and 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive. Mix on low speed for 1-2 minutes to mix ingredients together, then increase the speed to medium for about 5-6 minutes or until dough is soft and elastic. Turn the dough out on to a clean surface and form into a ball. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to mixing bowl and add the dough ball, coating the ball on all sides with the oil. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and set aside for one hour or until doubled in size.
- Roll the dough into a sausage about 12-inches long. Cut into 12 even pieces (about 1½ oz. each). Roll each piece into a ball and transfer them to a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let them rest for 20 minues.
For the Lamb Topping
- In a large bowl add all the meat ingredients and mix well to combine using your hands. Set aside.
Assembling the Pies
- Preheat the oven to 425° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Arrange the dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, well spaced apart. Using your fingers, flatten each ball into a round disc about 4-inches wide and 1/8-inch thick. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the lamb filling into the center of the disc and spread it out evenly leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge. Sprinkle with the pine nuts. Set aside to rest for 10 minutes.
- Bake for 17-18 minutes or until the pies are golden brown, rotating them halfway through the baking time. Serve them warm or at room temperature.
My final pairing was Mediterranean Spaghetti with Shrimp. Two of my favorites; pasta and seafood in a simple light tomato sauce with fresh thyme, garlic, and a pinch of Aleppo chile flakes. The elegant and easy Les Églantiers was a lovely match.
Spaghetti with Shrimp
- 1 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup white onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 heaping tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 + teaspoon Aleppo chile flakes more to taste
- kosher salt
- 1 lb. large shrimp, raw, peeled and deveined
- 3 teaspoons fish base I used "Better than Bouilllon"
- 14 oz dry spaghetti
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
- In a 12-inch frying pan over medium-low heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and onions, stirring occasionally until soft. Add the garlic, after about one minute add the tomatoes, wine, thyme, sugar, Aleppo chile flakes and salt. Simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to low until you add the shrimp 3-5 minutes before the pasta is cooked.
- Bring a large stock pot of water to a boil, add the fish paste and a little salt and stir to dissolve. Add the spaghetti and cook al dente according to the package directions. Save a cup of the pasta water and then drain.
- Add the cooked pasta to the sauce. Add a little pasta water to the sauce if it is too dry. Transfer to a large platter to serve. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil, chopped parsley, and extra Aleppo chile flakes if desired.
Wine Scholar Guild, “The Wine Dine Dictionary,” by Victoria Moore, and Jancis Robinson.com
More Rhône Valley Articles from the French Winophiles~
- Beurre Noisette Salmon Sprinkled with Belper Knolle + A Syrah from Crozes-Hermitage from Culinary Cam
- Relaxing with a Cotes du Rhone and Rummikub from A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Back to Cotes du Rhone for a French GSM blend from My Full Wine Glass
- For Rhone Diversity Look Across the Street from Food Wine Click!
- Tavel Rosé: Tasting and Food Pairings from Always Ravenous
- Sipping the Sweet side of the Rhône with a Rasteau Vin Doux Naturel from Crushed Grape Chronicles
- A Range of Côtes du Rhône Wines Provide Delightful Diversity Paired with Citrus Salad and Cassoulet from Wine Predator Gwendolyn Alley
- A Closer Look at Two Rhône Valley Crus: Crozes-Hermitage and Cairanne from Jill Barth
- Chateau La Nerthe Les Cassagnes de La Nerthe Blanc – An Exciting White Blend from the Rhone Valley from Grape Experiences