Tavel Rosé Is The Only Wine You Need This Thanksgiving


Pause a moment and think about Thanksgiving. Do you roast, smoke, or fry your turkey? Do you season it with citrus and herbs or hickory and bacon? What about sweet potatoes — do you prefer old-fashioned style, topped with a marshmallow or strudel? Do you serve classic green bean casserole or prefer maple bacon Brussels sprouts? Add the buttery goodness of homemade mashed potatoes and the acidic bite of cranberry sauce and you’ve got a complicated meal — one that could support seven wines.

Thanksgiving is a tapestry of flavors, textures, and spices — enough to overwhelm any one wine. I have written many articles recommending rosé for this feast, a solid choice because of its high acidity. On a recent trip to southern Rhône, I discovered Tavel, a rosé unlike any other. This discovery has altered my pairing recommendation from rosé in general to Tavel in particular.
This rosé stands at attention in the glass. Bold colors ranging from striking fuchsia, to deep salmon, to light brown topaz, colors that elucidate the seriousness of the wine. “We are proud of Tavel’s color,” explains Thomas Giubbi, Managing Director of Rhône’s Vignobles & Compagnie, “we want it to entice the senses.” One look and I knew this isn’t an Instagram wine, it’s a food wine.

The wines are cuvées, comprised of grapes grown in unique soils with particular attention paid to maceration to create a cru rosé. Severine Lemoine, winemaker at Domaine La Rocalière, says it best, “A good Tavel is a balance between freshness, fruit, and spice with complex minerality, creating a grand mouthfeel in a gastronomical wine.”

Crafted from a blend, Grenache forms the foundation, with Cinsault, Syrah, Clairette, Mourvedre, Picpoul, Bourboulenc, Carignan, and Calitor vying for attention. However, “maceration,” explains Guillaume Demoulin, fourth-generation winemaker at Château de Trinquevedel, “is key to expressing the complexity of Tavel.” He shares the amount of skin contact time needed varies depending on vintage and variety. “Syrah requires only a few hours, whereas Cinsault grapes need a day or more.” In addition to maceration, I believe much of the wine’s gastronomic style comes from the land.

The small village lies on the right bank of the Rhône River ten miles north of Avignon and shares the same revered landscape of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. A chalky limestone, known as lauzes, is credited with imparting elegance and minerality into the wines. These are beautiful vineyards, with limestone covering the earth. When I taste these rosés the minerality leaps out of the glass — thank you, lauzes.

The eastern and southern aspects contain a classic sandy loam elevating the wines fruit characteristics and finesse. Although not as striking as the other areas, this soil is imperative to the freshness of the wines.

Finally, on the terraces and gentle slopes southeast of the village lie vineyards composed of red clay blanketed in tan quartzite cobbles, known as galets roulés. My mouth fell open as I witnessed stones the size of a loaf of sourdough bread as far as my eyes could see.

My initial thought was, What monk looked upon acres of fields covered in these enormous stones and said “let’s plant a vineyard here”? These stones are thought to increase the wine’s power, structure, and crispness.

One last key to the wine dots the landscape. As I stood in the vineyards of Château de Trinquevedel with Demoulin, I felt overcome by the herbal fragrance of surrounding garrigue – the aromatic plants that grow wild there. As he explains, “Tavel is a cru rosé with lots of personality – a true gastronomical wine,” I think to myself how could an area engulfed in aromas of juniper, rosemary, thyme, and lavender create anything less?

Here are my recommendations of Tavel rosé to pair with your Thanksgiving.

2012 Château de Trinquevedel Tavel pours deep fuchsia, red fruit mingle with citrus and stone fruit and dried herbs, a pleasing salinity on the palate with high acidity makes the mouth water.

2017 Domaine La Rocalière Perle de Culture Tavel pours intense pink, raspberry and red currant mingle with herbs and a sea spray minerality, high acidity with a nice lift off the palate is fresh and elegant.

2017 Vignobles & Compagnie Reserve des Chastelles Tavel another deep fuchsia wine with spice, red fruit, and candied violets, palate offers weight and texture yet balanced with a freshness of blood orange, high acidity, long finish.

2017 Vignobles & Compagnie Les Combelles Tavel offers much of the same aromas as the Reserve des Chastelles but with added ripe peach and a meaty savory quality from the Syrah.

2017 Les Vignerons de Tavel Les Lauzeraies Tavel strawberries collide with stone fruit, dreamcicle, herbal, intense minerality, elegant and refreshing with finesse.

2017 Domaine de la Mordoree La Dame Rousse Tavel offers juicy fruit forward aromas with spice and herbs on the palate, broad and elegant, intensely delicious.

2017 Domaine de la Mordoree La Reine Des Bois Tavel deep pink with dazzling notes of blood orange, red berries, spice, dried herbs, minerality, fresh yet bold on the palate, elegant and long.

*I also tasted the 2010 and 2011 vintages of Domaine de la Mordoree Tavel, the wines age with notes of Christmas potpourri and marmalade, yet retain their freshness and elegance, truly dazzling. Tavel’s structure and complexity result in age-worthy rosés.

2017 Chateau d’Aqueria Tavel offers a red and white fruit candied nose, sweet violets, spice, elegant, bold, and fresh on the palate with high acidity and firm structure.

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