1,001 Shades of Pink Provincia Nostra
by Douglas Blyde - Sunday March 21, 2010 8:17 am
‘The discovery of a new dish confers more happiness on humanity than the discovery of a new star...’ proclaimed Brillat-Savarin in 1825. Being a gastronomer rather than astronomer, I wholeheartedly agree. In fact I’m hoping that Nuno Mendes’ ‘Viajante’ restaurant will deliver a few plated evolutions when it opens, 15th April.
I also get excited when encountering a grape which previously evaded my roving palate. Expecting little of interest (Martial described the wines as ‘terrible’) I sleepily walked into a tasting of predominantly pink Provence. Things started badly, from those which posed in un-wine rack friendly bottles (rectangular, spherical and squat, as if wearing a lifebuoy) to the acceptably packaged, but boring. While Les Caves de Pyrene’s Chateau les Crostes
(Grenache/Cinsault) made me wince with its paltry flavours and overwhelming imbalance of alcohol, a few examples from ‘Tibouren’ awoke in me Provence's potential beyond Petanque. With roots in Mesopotamia, Tibouren is rarely seen outside Provence (let alone in it) probably because of its susceptiblity to spring frosts and poor fruit set, equating, basically, to too much hard work for the very commercially minded.
Cuvée Prestige Caroline from Clos Cibonne, Côtes de Provence is 100% Tibouren. With such substantial aromas as to seem ‘not exactly pink’, this dramatic, stylish wine gathered garrigue (fennel, thyme), weaving a freshness in its supple texture, then long, crisp finish. Rather than fish and chips, flighted game came to mind as a striking food match.
According to exporter, Margaret Scholefield, Tibouren pinks are unusually ageworthy. With no idea who stocks it (it evades www.wine-searcher.com), that is something I'd like to find out...