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What’s In My Glass – Hilarie Larson
The foothills near Sainte-Victoire Mountain, overlooking Provence and some of the world's best rosé

The foothills near Sainte-Victoire Mountain, overlooking Provence and some of the world’s best rosé

It may come as a shock to many readers, but just because someone writes about wine for a living, doesn’t mean we wind down every evening with an array of bottles before us. Well, not me, anyway.

I do enjoy trying new things and revisiting old favorites on a regular basis and definitely have an affinity for France; for that I confess.

Here’s a quick rundown on some of the vino that’s been in my glass of late:

2011 Domaine de la Tour du Bon, Red.

I am a sucker for Mourvedre, especially when it’s from the Bandol region of Provence in Southern France.

Domaine de la Tour du Bon (or TdB for short) is a tranquil haven of a vineyard, perched on the AOC hillside, overlooking the bay and village of Bandol. Here, Mourvedre is happy with its feet in the sea and head in the sun.

Owner/Winemaker Agnés Henry shows this variety in all its earthy, fruity, classic character: deep strawberry preserves, red/black licorice, and juicy ripe blackberry layered with indigenous garrigue – herbaceous notes of thyme, fennel fronds and rosemary. The lush palate is all about ‘animale’ with fine tannins, touches of smoke, dried tobacco leaf and sweetish, suedy leather.


2011 Miramonte Winery, Touriga Nacional 

I love to shop local. Luckily for me, I can ‘drink local’ as well seeing as I live in Temecula California wine country.

‘The Monte’ is a local favorite, with an emphasis on Portugese, Spanish and other Mediterranean varieties.

Touriga Nacional originally hails from Portugal, the Daou specifically, where it crafts big, bold reds. This SoCal example is no different – luscious, black raspberry aromas with nuances of dried blueberry, rosemary and whiffs of bergamot. The palate shows integrated tannins and a food friendly note of acidity, keeping the experience firm yet juicy. Blackberry, anise and light swirls of roasted coffee make this a great winter-time wine with or without food. Light up the firepit and grill me a steak!


2013 Quinta de Gomariz Loureiro, Coulheita Selecionada, Vino Verde *

Way up in the northwest of Portugal, lies the Vino Verde (Vee-noh Vehrd) region. Seafood is king and the local whites are the perfect complement.

Loureiro is one of the classic, indigenous grapes, full of freshness and super aromatic. If you are drawn to wines like Gewurztraminer or Muscat or simply enjoy savoring the ‘nose’ of your wine, you will love this variety!

The first thing you notice is the slight ‘spritz’ characteristic of Vino Verde. This only enhances the vibrant notes of ripe apple, green melon, orange and linden blossoms. Refreshingly dry with flavors of crisp white pear, crunchy green apple skin and quince, all laced with fresh ginger. Delicious! This would be killer with some calamari.


2010 Roger Sabon ‘Prestige’ Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Ok, I confess, I do love Southern French wines! But with this amazing bottling from one of the region’s oldest producers, who would not?

Winemaker Didier Negron runs a beautiful cellar right on the edge of the village center. My husband and I were fortunate to visit last spring and loved just about everything we tasted.

The ‘Prestige’ is crafted from really old vine Grenache (over 100 years) and blended with other typical AOC varieties such as Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Terret, Counoise, Vaccarese and Muscardin. Aging is done in “foudre” – large oak barrels that allow all the amazing components of the wine to age with grace.

The result is rich, elegant and all about finesse. Beautifully crafted and balanced with a clean acidity that offsets the dark fruit, licorice, leather and spice.

Notes of tiny, ripe, red strawberry, sweet black currant and a multitude of small red/black fruits laced with clove, nutmeg, cracked black peppercorns and autumn forest floor. This is what CNDP is all about.


2013 Terre de Mistral ‘Rosalie’ Sainte Victoire, Côte de Provence

Forget what you’ve heard about Rosé – “it’s only good in the Summer”, “it never tastes like in did on holiday in the South of France” or, worst of all “It’s going to be sweet”.

Rosé is brilliant all year round, a good wine will taste great anywhere and classic Rosés are dry. Period. Discussion over.

The sub appellation of ‘Sainte Victoire’ is named after the amazingly gorgeous limestone mountain of the same name. This monolith shelters the vineyards in its shadow from the cold and fierce Mistral winds and bestows cool mountain air into the valleys on those warm summer nights.

Crafted from a blend of Syrah, Cinsault, Grenache and Rolle (Vermentino), this wine may be light in color but it’s big in the aroma department, with bright, clean strawberry, red currant, peach and tangerine notes.

The limestone/marl soil is reflected in the minerally, slightly saline finish with more of those ripe red berries and thirst quenching citrus highlights. Ah, I am back in Provence!

*This wine was submitted as a sample by the producer or their representative.



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About The Author
Hilarie Larson
After settling in Southern California, Wine Educator and Sommelier Hilarie Larson and her husband, Winemaker Craig Larson, decided to create their own venture, Northwinds Wine Consulting, in order to share their devotion for all things wine. The Larsons bring a deep appreciation for the love and labor that goes into every bottle and are thrilled to express that passion through wine education and winery consulting.

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