Musings of a Wine Maven

Something Corked about Wine Spectators’s Best Value 2016 Wines from Provence

by Jerry Clark


Earlier this month I spent a considerable amount of time perusing the new issue of Wine Spectator (Jan. 31 – Feb. 28, 2017).  I love lists, and this edition’s cover caught my attention with its bold text proclaiming “Ultimate Values: 1,236 Wines 90+/ $30 or Less.” I was in the local bagel shop at the time and errands begged to be done which limited my taking the time then to go through their winners from beginning to end.  But what did draw me in immediately was that of the eleven wines from Provence that made the cut, six were rosés.

I enjoy rosé well enough, but I imagined had it been me blind-tasting the presumed several hundred Provence wines tried during the year, there would have been a preponderance of red and whites showing up in this year-end review. Even more remarkable, seeing how well rosé came out, was that with the single exception of Jolie-Pitt & Perrin Miraval, a Côtes de Provence notable, the remaining five stars were all from Bandol. No rosé made the cut from the other seven areas included in the Provence AOP (Coteaux d’ Aix-en-Provence, Pierrevert, Cassis, Bellet, Coteaux Varois en Provence, Palette, and Les Baux de Provence). That is indeed remarkable.

Back at my home I delved into this curiosity further.  I noted, for example, that in new Wine Enthusiast, reporter Joe Czerwinski reviewed five Tavel wines, all scoring 90+ points and, yes, I know, Tavel is ever so slightly outside of Provence but, still….I believe I have hit upon the reason:  namely, Wine Spectator’s beat reporter for Provence, James Molesworth, has a Mourvèdre palate.  Hmmm…a bias?


  1. And wine spectator politics!….

  2. “Curiouser and curiouser!” Cried Alice.

  3. Jerry, thanks for writing and pointing out what appears to be biased reporting In this listing. Having vacationed occasionally in the Provence region, I was interested in reading the listing of $30 or less red and white wines for future travels in the region. While I am not much of a Rose’ drinker, I too was surprised and disappointed to learn that Rose’s (and Bandol) dominated this listing.

  4. Gerry,
    Quite frankly I was rather surprised when this seeming Bandol preference jumped out at me. Dividing up the global wine regions among ten reviewers makes good sense at Wine Spectator. However, as diverse as Provence is geographically, terroir, and grape variety wise, I am perplexed by the skew toward Bandol. I have been vacationing there regularly for almost thirty years, and know that as good a quality wine area as Bandol is, they have far from hung the moon. If you like I can provide a list of my favorite Provence producers, in all colors, for your next visit.

  5. I will admit that I predominantly drink rosé from Provence but that stems from the fact I typically only visit in the peak of summer when a cold glass of rose is the perfect accompaniment to my lunch. That being said, I definitely agree that the Provence AOP should have made the cut. Thanks for the great input once again Wine Maven!

  6. The bottom line for me is that there are so many good things going on throughout Provence that WS is giving scant credit.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.