Three white wine pairings

The great whites from Provence are a proud addition to any table and yet they are all too often overlooked. It’s true their production is much smaller than the red and rosé wines. And certainly not all the terroirs in the vast region of Provence have the capacity to produce white wines displaying true personality, balance and real potential for cellaring. Recently however, in a brief jaunt I took around Aix-en-Provence, I had the opportunity to ascertain the top-notch class of certain wines by going back in time.

I started off at Domaine de Trévallon where Eloi Dürrbach has been producing a white wine since his 1991 vintage. Evolution in the planting for his white wine has enabled him to gain in precision. Since 2009, Grenache blanc has been added to the blend, definitively delineating the current blend. After tasting each grape separately, I can assure you that 2016 will be divine. The freshness and engaging flavours in the varieties will come together in an excellent vintage. The 2015 displays lovely amplitude. Pair it with artichokes in the Barigoule style and local cured ham. The power and the fleshiness of this white wine will round out the bitterness of the artichoke, which is always quite a challenge.

The superb patina of time

In Saint Rémy-de-Provence, Dominique Hauvette unveiled the utter class of her cuvée Dolia. Her 2010 is developing well-controlled, superb oxidation with characteristic Marsanne notes of roots and wax. Beautifully pure on the palate, the wine unfolds the crystalline dimension of Clairette. Lovely bitters give persistency and freshness. Pair this white wine with veal sweetbreads served with morel mushrooms. The richness, and the patina of time take charge of the tertiary side morels present. The 2004 Dolia is redolent with grain and dried fruit and has kept superb minerality. The flavours and the persistency will pair magnificently with a ripe tomme de Savoie cheese.

In Jouques, Peter Fisher, from Château Revelette, began with a vertical tasting of his white wine Le Grand Blanc. Each vintage followed in the footsteps of the previous year with great equanimity. His excellent 2015 proved to just what extent the coolness and temperature range for a terroir at 400 meters altitude can benefit the wine’s balance, even in a hot year. This white wine, with a dominant component of Chardonnay, is nicely tamed by the purity of the Ugni blanc and the aromatics of Rolle and Sauvignon. A hint of wild fennel on the palate, where fleshiness and bitterness come together beautifully. With Château Revelette Le Grand Blanc, I dream of a pissaladière made with fennel, anchovies and Cevennes onions. His 2012 is developing nicely, bringing out honey and wax. The 2010 is simply sublime with warm notes of preserved lemon, nuances of roots and minerals, and fresh, cool mouthfeel. Perfect with chicken shawarma and cilantro.

One last piece of advice: these great whites are often served before their prime, and that is a shame. Be patient and wait for the right time!

In la RVF July-August 2017