When July rolls around we’re longing for Provence and the chance to see first-hand the lavender fields in bloom. It’s still on our bucket list; we are not there, yet, despite having spent many lazy, late summer days visiting friends with a house in the Luberon, usually end of August.
But we did have the chance to visit the Luberon in May for a wine tour of the southern Rhône Valley. The weather was warm and dry, and the buses of tourists were still thankfully sparse. May is a great time to visit before the summer crowds descend. While no lavender was in bloom, there were other blooms a’plenty. Numerous bright yellow wildflowers and orange-red poppies dotted the fields, and orchards were filled with blooming cherry and apricot trees.
We’ve always been fans of Luberon rosé and tasted several during our visit. The styles of rosé in the Luberon can range from crisp and dry to fresh, floral and fruity. Rosé wines make up 52 percent of the wines produced in AOC Luberon which was established in 1988. Vines are cultivated on both sides of the Luberon mountain range at altitudes of 200 to 350 meters above sea level, which adds to the wines’ freshness and purity. The primary red grapes are Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault. Soils vary from limestone to clay and red sand. The climate can range from Mediterranean warm to very cool nights.
It was a busy market day when we visited the Maison de la Truffe et du Vin du Luberon in Ménerbes to taste a few wines with three producers: Lionel Bourgue, Domaine de la Citadelle, Nathalie Margan, Chateau La Canorgue, Christian Ruffinatto, Domaine Ruffinatto – and Thomas Montagne Chateau de Clapier.
Later in the afternoon, we visited Château la Canorgue, a 200-year-old family-owned estate in Bonnieux and the first organic winery in the Luberon. The winery is run Jean-Pierre Margan with his daughter, Nathalie, who represents the fifth generation of winegrowers. The wines are recognized around the world.
Visitors may recognize Château la Canorgue from Filmmaker Ridley Scott’s “A Good Year,” with Russell Crowe and Marion Cotillard. The estate was a setting for the movie. The Margans remain nonplussed when tourists arrive to snap fan photos. While at Château la Canorgue, we sat down with Nathalie Margan to discuss styles of AOC Luberon rosé, which range from a light pink grapefruit citrus squeeze to an embrace of fresh wild strawberries.
AOC Luberon Rhône Valley rosés possess terrific minerality, complexity and freshness. These are not one-size-fits all rosés; a sense of place is evident from the first sip. You just want to reach for a salad chèvre chaud, fresh grilled seafood with vegetables drizzled with local olive oil.
Listen to our visit with Nathalie Margan on The Connected Table SIPS. Click image below or visit iHeart.com at this link
For more information on AOC Luberon and its wines, visit: www.vin-luberon-fr