WINE REVIEW: Domaine de Cala 2019 Prestige Rosé, Coteaux Varois en Provence, France ($17.50)
by Andrew Chalk
The French region of Provence is famous for many things. One of them is rosé wine made predominantly from grenache noir with cinsault and syrah in strong supporting roles. So popular are the wines that the French drink more rosé than white wine, half of it from Provence.
One of the best, Domaine de Cala, has an unlikely owner. Joachim Splichal, a German-born chef most famous for his Los Angeles restaurant Patina. The story goes that having reached the peak in his culinary field, he followed a lifelong dream of opening a winery. A careful search landed him in the Var area of Provence at 650 acres just outside Brignoles, the town at the heart of the Coteaux Varois en Provence AOP (loosely translated as ‘the Var hills in Provence’) in 2013. A total of 140 acres were planted to 48% grenache noir, 35% cinsault, 6% rolle (aka Vermentino), 5% syrah, 4% carignan, and 2% grenache blanc. Interestingly, that is just about the full panoply of Provence grapes. It also exhibits the same predominance of grenache noir as in the region as a whole. Splichal clearly wanted to make the best as he hired Stéphane Darenoncourt, a man who, were it not a limitation of the human mind that it can only remember the name of one French winemaker, would be a household name among French winemaking consultants, right after Michel Rolland.
The man at the winery daily is winemaker Bruno Tringali. Originally from the southern French town of Toulon, he is known for his work with rosé wines. He also brings over 30 years of experience to the team and has been working with and studying agriculture since the age of 14. At the age of 18 he earned his diploma of oenology from Montepellier’s Faculté de Pharmacie.
This wine is 61.5% grenache noir, 37% rolle, and 1.5% syrah and made entirely from estate fruit. The grapes were hand-harvested, destemmed and given a delicate pressing. The juice was cold-stabilized for 5 days,then fermented in 500L barrels from selected producers and given battonage during 3 months ageing in barrels.
Appearance: Light orange sunset tone;
Nose: White peach, toast, rose leafs;
Palate: Precise fruit-acid balance. White peach,. Good grip. Long fruit finish. The backbone of tannin purposely left in the wine is a rewarding signature, making it, as the winemaker’s notes suggest, an ideal wine for sushi.