I bet you’re wondering why I would select such a specific type of rosé for this week’s post. I chose it due to it’s different character when compared to most typical rosés. Tavel originates from the southern portion of Rhône, on the west bank of the river, across from Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Tavel also consists of the same grape varieties found in the Rhône region such as Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, and Cinsault. The use of these grapes results in a fuller bodied, deeper colored rosé than most tend to be. The region has been producing its signature wines since 1936, when the French wine appellation system was first put into practice. The appellation system regulated what types of wines and what grapes could be grown in each designated area. Tavel was the only all rosé producing area anywhere in France.
Tavel wines have more grape pulp and skin contact time, 12 to 72 hours, which provides a rich salmon colored wine as the pulp extracts color from the skins. This extended skin contact also imparts more tannin in the wines. These features are partly responsible for the fuller mouth feel one experiences when tasting this style of wine. They also expand the food pairing opportunities beyond those of typical rosés. The heavier style allows it to not just pair with cheeses but foods that tend to be too heavy for a typical rosé, like pork, salmon, and barbecue. Tavel is a wine variety that appears to be best for summertime at first glance, but can also extend into colder seasons, with meals including fresh game, osso bucco, and even Thai or Indian curries.
The bottle I selected this week is a 2018 Prieuré de Montézargues, a former abbey dating back to the 12th century. The property is now owned by a larger company with holdings in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Tavel, by law, must contain 30-60% Grenache (Noir or Blanc-dark or white versions of the grape), and this bottle falls right there at 50% (as well as a blend of Syrah, Cinsault, Clairette, Bourboulenc, and Mourvedre. These are all Rhône approved wine varieties). This brilliant salmon colored wine smells of ripe raspberries, juicy peaches, peak summer watermelon, wild strawberries, with a touch of a metallic note. Out of curiosity, I decided to see how the wine would pair with Costco chicken street tacos (it’s been really hot the last week and I did not want to cook anything! Also, Costco is closer to my residence than a grocery store). If you haven’t tried them, they come with pre seasoned, precooked chicken, cheese, sliced cabbage, lime wedges, fresh salsa, and a cilantro lime cream sauce. While I heated the tortillas, I tried a piece of chicken with the Tavel and was pleasantly surprised at how the cumin, chili powder and other spices were accented by the red fruit notes in the wine. The wine tastes of red raspberries, white peaches, wet rocks from a fresh rain, hibiscus, and white grapefruit. The grapefruit and fruit notes beautifully accent the herbal and acid notes in the cilantro lime cream sauce. The fullness of the wine provides a fantastic balance with the heavier notes of the tacos. The salsa is mild but still accentuates the alcohol level in the wine (13.5%), giving the perception the wine is slightly higher than it lists on the label. The wine lingered on the palate as I finished each bite of food, which is a wonderful feature as I hate to take multiple sips of wine for the same bite to get the maximum experience! Overall, I would definitely have this wine again and wouldn’t hesitate to serve it with chicken tacos! (As a side note, if you are vegetarian, Costco sells the cilantro lime sauce in bottles. This wine would also be excellent with meat replacement tacos topped with this sauce!)