Saturday, February 20, 2021


Image: Domaine de la Bégude

In February 2021 the French Winophiles, aka #winophiles on social media, are exlporing red wines of Provence. Find out more when the #winophiles tackle all things Provence red wine on Twitter on 20 February 2021 at 8 AM PST.

As I'd mentioned in my preview post, when we hear wine and Provence in the same sentence we almost always - and rightfully so - think of rosé wines of all shades made from grapes growing in impossibly sunny and clement weather in southern France. But in fact Provence offers more than delicately coloured rosé wines and visions of lavender fields near the Mediterranean sea. Formidable red wines come out of Provence just as well as rosé and white wines. Made from from a variety of grapes... something for everyone and for all kinds of pairings. 

Provence has 9 viticultural regions or AOCs (Appellation de’Origin Contrôlée). Among those, the ones known for red wine are Bandol (arguably the most famous Provençal red wine AOC), Baux de Provence, Palette, Bellett, and the newest AOC (since 1998), Pierrevert. Red wine grapes here include varieties found throughout much of France such as Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Tannat, Counoise, Cinsault, and Cabernet Sauvignon, but also grapes not often seen elsewhere like Folle Noir, Calitour, Tibouren, Barbaroux, and Braquet. All in all about 36 grape varieties are allowed in Provence spanning a few different countries including Spain and Italy, although in Provence they are generally known by their French/Provençal names.

Located 400 m above and overlooking the Mediterranean, this winery spans 1300 acres of land including 57 acres of vineyards. The property enjoys both, Mistral-brushed sunny days and cool nights. Outstanding complex and elegant wines come from the outstanding garrigue-laden mosaic of soils combined with the 7 generations old winemaking pedigree of Guillaume Tari. Although we selected a red, La Bégude makes rosé, white, and red wines, all certified organic by ECOCERT.

2018 Domaine de la Bégude Bandol Rouge
90% Mourvedre, 10% Cinsault
14.5% ABV | SRP $35

Deep ruby, almost looks over-extracted

Dark berries right up front, anise, baking spices, herbal notes mixed with earth, a faint hint of dried red roses. Quite lovely and definitely does not smell over-extracted.

This is a very elegant savoury wine with surprising complexity given its young age. The same notes on the palate as on the nose, but with an unexpected savouriness despite the overt berry-laden nose. Medium body, balanced acidity, grippy tannins that loosen up after ~1 hr. A beautifully structured wine that will undoubtedly benefit from 5-7 years in the cellar.

We opened this wine to pair with a lamb chop biryani. Lamb is somewhat of a guaranteed match for most southern French red wines but the surprise was in how synchronised the dark berries, anise, garrigue, and the faint dried rose floral notes in the wine were with the complex aromatics and Kashmiri saffron in the biryani. The fragrance of aged Indian basmati rice was an added layer of elegance in this entire combination. 

I would not recommend this restrained complex wine with spicy food (like fiery South Indian style biryanis) but it is a match made in heaven for the layered complex flavours of North Indian biryanis or Persian food (the birthplace of biryani).

In India we never make things like tandoori anything, naan, or biryani at home because it is a bit of a chore, the flavour is never as good,  and tandoors are usually communal ovens not home cooking equipment. Nevertheless, I'm glad it was the dish of choice for my procrasticooking in the face of a project deadline. I needed a break from work and my post-work trip quarantine so this came at the right time.

Check out these blog posts and be inspired by what the rest of us sipped and savoured:


    1. Often I forget how very many grapes and wines come out of Provence. With red I always think Mouvedre, but there are so many other varieties to explore. Thanks for that reminder.

    2. Lamb and Bandol seems like a match made in heaven, yum!

    3. Synchronization of flavors, wow you nailed this! Is Kashmiri saffron that much different from those grown in other areas? Thanks for hosting Payal!

    4. Sounds like a winning combination. I need more biryani in my life!