Diary of a Master of Wine in Provence

Diary of a Master of Wine in Provence

Solidarité – “Le coeur des chefs”

Written in Saint Martin Vésubie 18th October 2020.  I am often described as living in Provence – which makes sense being a rosé specialist, but I actually live in the southern Alps, just over 40 miles north of Nice on the Italian border in a small medieval town called Saint Martin Vésubie. Originally on the salt trade route between Nice and Turin, it became a fashionable tourist location from the late 1900s when it was dubbed La Suisse Niçoise. The village was in the news on 30th August when the second day of the Tour de France whizzed through. It felt like fiesta time as we lined the main road, cheering on the cyclists. Just over a month later we were in the news again, for very different reasons.

Over the 30th September to 1st October 2020, Storm Alex swooped down from Brittany in north west France, arriving in the far south eastern corner of France, and my village Saint Martin Vésubie, by the morning of 2nd October. Throughout the day of the 1st we had received weather alerts on phones and email. “Move your car to somewhere safe”, “make sure you are prepared for flooding”. The messages increased, but, living at 1000m, we are used to the water running down the mountain and it is the lower villages which are hit, rarely us. This may sound more familiar to those living in the path of hurricanes, but not here. We have little earthquakes, landslides after rain, but not flood alerts.

On the morning of 2nd October it started to rain. Then thunder and lightning. It rained and rained, increasingly with greater power. Our electricity went on and off. By 4pm our electricity completely went, but the rain had eased a little. The Madone river at the bottom of our garden was swollen and roaring, and was... [...]

A Roundup of Some Lovely 2019 Rosés

My 2019 schedule for tasting was so well laid out…. WineParis, Prowein, AIR Provence, Vinitaly, as well as numerous local tastings…. What could possibly go wrong?

But there is always a silver lining, and, in many ways my tasting this year has been much more focused. Tasting 183 Provence rosés for Decanter magazine just before lockdown and receiving (at home) a number of rosés to taste from around Languedoc have shown that the 2019 rosé vintage is excellent. [...]

Diary of a Master of Wine in Provence

Judging, Celebrating, Researching, Tasting

As with any business, living and working in Provence is not all sunshine lunches…. well, only a few…..

The past couple of weeks have been very busy. In late April, I was based in London, which, surprise, surprise, was cold grey and damp – although it did warm up a little by the end. I was there to judge in the Decanter World Wine Awards. This year the number of entries topped 17,000 wines
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Diary of a Master of Wine in Provence

La Maison des Vins de Côtes de Provence Reopens with Great Fanfare

While Provence has been making wine for over 2000 years, its wine has not always had the fame it has today. Wine needs to reach foreign shores to be recognised, to be drunk by people who will write and praise the wine, to be acknowledged. For 2000 years the wines of Provence have been consumed, largely by locals. During the past 200 years it has been appreciated increasingly by tourists and over the past 20 years, thanks to the boom in rosé sales, it is highly regarded internationally.
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Diary of a Master of Wine in Provence

Côtes de Provence, Prowein, and Coteaux Varois

One region, one new vintage, two countries, three colours, three appellations, three departments, four fairs… Round one of my official tasting season is over, and now is time for a brief retrospective pause to think about them and the rosés tasted. Concentrating on research for my rosé book means that I often didn’t have time to taste all the reds and whites I want to – that is something to look forward to this autumn.

The one region is Provence with three of the four tasting events being for Côtes de Provence, Coteaux Varois and Coteaux d’Aix who together make up 95% of the region’s production, and held, respectively in the departments of Alpes Maritimes, Var and Bouches du Rhône. The fourth event at Prowein, in Germany, was for the three regions together. The two countries were France and Germany.
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