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Details for Château de l'Aumérade, Cuvée 'Marie-Christine’

AppellationCôtes de Provence AOP
Grenache / Garnacha
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Syrah / Shiraz
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Château de l'Aumérade
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Sun-soaked Provence occupies France’s Mediterranean coast between the river Rhône and the Italian border.  Like many other wine regions it was historically famous for its rosés, despite their tendency to be overstrong and underflavoured.  Unlike those other regions it is still famous for them: quality has come on in leaps and bounds, and pinks from Provence are today the most famous and sought-after still rosés in the world.
Increasingly serious reds are produced here too.  Both reds and rosés are usually blended from a palette of varieties including Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault and Carignan.  The rarer whites are crafted mainly from Clairette, Grenache Blanc and the increasingly popular Vermentino, known here as Rolle.
The sprawling Côtes de Provence appellation created in the 1950s is still the largest AOC, but has been joined by several others in recent years ‐ a sign that this region is on the up.  However, the most famed of all Provence appellations continues to be Bandol, on the coast between Marseille and Toulon.  This is red wine country, crafting herb-scented, dense and long-lived wines largely or entirely from Mourvèdre.

Château de l'Aumérade

One of Provence’s oldest and most respected estates, Château de l'Aumérade lies near Pierrefeu-du-Var in the heart of the Côtes de Provence AOC.  It was one of a handful of top estates marked out as Crus Classés (“Classed Growths”) when the appellation was created, of which only eighteen remain.
Its origins lie in the 16th century, but in 1932 it was bought by the Fabre family who extensively restructured it, and who still own it today.  It is regarded as the flagship of the five Provence châteaux in the Fabre portfolio.

about this wine About this wine

Cuvée Marie-Christine is the flagship rosé of Château de l'Aumérade.  Its elegant bottle was designed in 1956 by Charlotte Fabre, wife of the proprietor Henri and herself a noted artist, who based it on a vase they owned by the famous Art Nouveau glass designer Émile Gallé.  The wine was named for their newborn granddaughter.  Sixty years on, the eponymous Marie-Christine Fabre-Grimaldi and her husband Vincent run the estate, with their children Caroline, Clément and Delphine.
It wasn’t quite the first unusual Provence wine bottle, but it’s probably the oldest still in use.  Domaines Ott had designed their own in the Thirties, but they use a different shape today (the original was too tall for restaurant fridges).
In 1960 a group of Provence producers comissioned the wasp-waisted ‘Mae West’ bottle which became the standard Provence bottle shape.  It can still be found today, although mostly in France.  Every producer with designs on the export market now seems to have their own bottle, as a glance at the rosé section of your local supermarket will prove!
Inside the bottle is a roughly equal blend of Syrah, Cinsault and Grenache.  The importer’s website says the blend is 35% Cinsault, 35% Grenache and 30% Syrah, while their booklet from the tasting where we first tried it claims 40% Syrah, 35% Cinsault and 25% Grenache.  I suspect the exact makeup varies according to the vintage.
The vineyards are planted on well-drained red clay and limestone soils, and are cooled by the famous Mistral which blows in from the sea 15 km to the south.  The grapes were harvested in early September and immediately destemmed and crushed.  After a period of skin contact at 13°C, the now-pink juice was run off and allowed to settle.  Each variety was fermented separately, with the temperature held between 15°C and 18°C during the ten-day fermentation to preserve the purity of the fruit aromas.
After aging in stainless steel for a couple of months, the wines were racked and blended, before being chilled to precipitate any excess tartaric acid and then filtered to remove it.  This is normal for rosés; those little tartaric crystals would be a lot more noticeable in a clear glass bottle.

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