Orange: Wine Tasting at the Festival of Chefs in the Théâtre Antique d’Orange; Five Winning Reds

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There were notes of a different kind in the Ancient Theatre of Orange, built by the Romans in the first century, which is home to the Chorégies d’Orange, one of Europe’s top opera festivals.

On this Friday evening, the “notes” were the aromas and flavors of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and other grape varieties grown in the region – crushed fruits of blackberry, black raspberry, black cherries, and minerals, and spice. Twelve winemakers joined seven leading chefs in a Festival of Chefs. Whereas each guest had tickets to taste two amuse bouches prepared by the chefs, the wine tasting had no such quota.

An informal panel assembled by PVB tasted twelve red wines offered at the Festival of Chefs. Here are, in alphabetical order, our preferred reds:

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Château Pibarnon, Bandol – smooth tannins, a rich red of 90 to 95% Mourvèdre, tel: 04 94 90 12 73, Email: contact@pibarnon.fr. The Bandol AOC is near the coast east of Marseille and Cassis, known for the high percentage of Mourvèdre in its wines. North Berkeley Imports, among others.

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Château Puech Haut, The Cuvee Prestige of 55% Grenache, 35% Syrah and 10% Carignan is the entry red of this esteemed estate in the Coteaux de Languedoc, a superb drink for quality / price. Address: 2250 route de Teyran 34160 Saint-Drézéry Tel : 04 99 62 27 27.

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Domaine des Bosquets, Gigondas, the 2011 le lieu dit is a delicious Grenache from a small parcel on the periphery of the domaine, one of many of the quality wines produced by the Famille Brechet, Château de Vaudieu, Route de Courthézon 84230 Chateauneuf du Pape, 04.90.83 70 31. Jed Dunnick of the Wine Advocate, who is more generous in scoring wine than the iconic Robert Parker whom he replaced, popped into this winery yesterday. PVB on Gigondas here.

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Domaine Santa Duc: The 2011 Prestige des Hautes Garriques, a blend of Grenache old vines 78%, Mourvèdre 20%, Syrah 2%, is a stupefying good drink. Address: Les Hautes Garrigues, 84190 Gigondas. Tél . 04 90 65 84 49. Robert Kacher Selections. See PVB on this Domaine and Gigondas here.

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Mas Treaucat, Faugères, Tel 04 67 95 85 90, Email: richard.dalichoux@wanadoo.fr. Faugères is 12 miles NW of Béziers in the Hérault hills, a classified within the Coteaux-du-Languedoc AOC. Only 5 hectares, this small winery worth a visit if you are in and around Faugères

IMG_6732Three Provence Touring Washington Redskins Fans From Virgina (2 women in front and guy in blue tee)

 Basics:

The chefs and their restaurants:

Pascal Alonso (le Pré du Moulin, Sérignan du Comtat)

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Thierry Bonfante (le Temps de Vivre, Uchaux)

Laurent Deconninck (l’Oustalet, Gigondas)

Jean-Marc Evrard (Café des Négociants, Orange)

Louis Louro (Au Lavoir, Colombiers)

Christian Peyre (le Domaine de Bournissac, Paluds-de-Noves)

Raoul Reichrath (Le Grand Pré, Roaix)

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