Tavel: Don’t judge a wine by its colour



A quick intro to the wines of Tavel…


Of all the colours of the rainbow, the colour pink has some unfortunate connotations. Often associated with cupcake icing and little girls’ toys, it’s a weak, frivolous colour. It’s rarely the sign of a serious wine either – how many truly great rosés can you name? Yes there are some, but compared to white and red wines they are few and far between.

Tavel, however, is something special. It’s a small appellation just over the river from Châteauneuf-du-Pape and uniquely for the Côtes-du-Rhône, this region only produces dry rosé. And there is no other rosé like it. Expect assertive red berry flavours, herbal undertones and an intense impression once in your mouth. It has the bright bite and cleansing sensation of a ripe redcurrant. It refreshes like the red flesh of a watermelon. It has the clean, mineral edge of neon pink coral.

Over a dozen different grape varieties can be included by the winemaker, but Grenache and Cinsault form the bulk of the blend. The vines need to be strong enough to push their way through the rounded stones that litter the vineyards. It makes for a muscular rosé – full-bodied and weighty, but light on its feet. It is the antidote to so many insipid, anaemic, wan pinks. It can easily stand up to flavoursome dishes like fish soup or grilled red snapper, and is a good all-rounder for tackling a Chinese takeaway.

Though it can be a brilliant wine, Tavel is often overlooked, and though not cheap it’s often undervalued for the heights of quality the best can attain. Like the eponymous American rockstar, this is a Pink that has talent and attitude. It proves that pink can be powerful.


Domaine Maby ‘Prima Donna’ Tavel Rosé 2012 (The Wine Society, £9.95)
Vibrant pinky red. Raspberry, strawberry, some red cherry aromas. Full-bodied, rounded with a silky texture. Intensely flavoursome, with great purity and freshness. Dry, textured finish.

Château d’Aqueria Tavel Rosé 2012 (winedirect.com, £13.75)
The colour of a ripe redcurrant. Fruity strawberry and redcurrant aromas. Medium to full-bodied for a rosé. Fresh, well balanced, with lovely fruitiness right into the long finish.

Domaine de la Mordorée ‘La Dame Rousse’ Tavel Rosé 2012 (Berry Brothers & Rudd, £16.95)
Deep rose petal pink. Cherry, raspberry, strawberry and tarragon on the nose. Round and smooth, with good concentration of flavour and a cleansing mineral finish. Well balanced, long and delicious.


First published in Living France magazine.