Mar 14, 2002
Wine from a Distant Outpost
This article was first published in Saveur in Issue #20
Côtes de Provence isn't the largest appellation in France, but it is said to be the oldest (vines were apparently first cultivated here roughly 2,600 years ago by the Greeks), the most geographically diverse, and the farthest-flung—with one side touching the Rhône just above Marseille and the other end approaching Cannes, plus one little enclave in Villars-sur-Var, up from Nice, halfway to Piedmont. And in the south, the appellation covers the entire Île de Porquerolles. There are four wineries on the island, in fact. One of these, Domaine de l'Île, is owned by Sébastien Le Ber, brother of Marie Caroline Le Ber of Le Mas du Langoustier—whose dining room sells at least 40 bottles a day of his rosé. Very pale and coppery in color, with assertive fruit and a pleasant astringency, the rosé complements Joël Guillet's cooking superbly. The wine is a blend of about 30 percent grenache, 30 percent cinsault, and 20 percent each mourvèdre and an old Provençal grape variety called tibouren. Le Ber also makes small quantities of white wine (100 percent rolle) and slightly larger quantities of red (100 percent syrah). I haven't tasted the white, but Le Ber's red is a perfect accompaniment to Guillet's pigeon with eucalyptus honey and licorice; young syrah, I realized as I sipped it, has a licorice character itself.