Tavel, Take Me Away

Periodically, I “stock up” on Rosé and in no time I wonder, “Where did all my Rosé go?” I literally don’t know how it happens, but my Rosé gets taken down by me and my cohorts by the hectoliter. No one in Los Angeles doesn’t want to Rosé year-round, although spring, summer, screener season and award season are its sweet spots. This leaves one week in the fall that Rosé is not the thing to be drinking in Lalaland and that’s because we are drinking orange wine. It goes with our Halloween selfies. This is neither here nor there. The important thing is that Rosé is the important thing. But what is the most important of Rosés? You don't have to force my hand. My favorite Rosé is unequivocally Tavel , a Southern (Rhône) belle. My love of Tavel goes to the core of my being. It hits my everything. Everywhere. All at once. And if I were voting for Rosé awards (Best Body, Best Acidity, Best Color and so on), it would sweep them. I’d say the most important and unusual thing to remember about Tavel is that Une: L’appellation d’origine contrôlée « Tavel » est réservée aux vins tranquilles Rosés. THEY ONLY MAKE ROSÉ. And deux: It must contain some form of Grenache . So, what else to know about it? Tavel lies on the right bank of Southern Rhône, with only the Lirac AOC and the river standing between it and good ol’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The Romans were into it. Louis the XIV could dig it. Tavel knew what was up enough to form the Tavel Vineyard Owners Syndicate way back when in 1902, going on to set up boundaries of where it could be produced in 1926. From there to the races. It became one of France’s first AOCs (Appellations de Origine Controlée) in 1936, right along with Châteauneuf-du-Pape and four other regions. Although, somehow, CdP still gets most of the glory as “the first”. But! Let’s be honest: the real winner cheesy dinner of the “first French AOC” award was actually Roquefort cheese in 1925. Tuck that fact away for when you really need it. As I said (see “And deux”) Tavel wines will contain Grenache in the blend—any sort of Grenache—blanc, rouge or gris! And then there is a handful of both red and white grapes (Cinsault, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Clairette, Picpoul and more) that can make up the blend. The grapes can be crushed and macerated separately, but the final blend must ferment together. Malolactic fermentation may or may not occur pending the acidity levels. Oak perhaps? But rarely overtly so. But what does it taste (and look) like? Even the most basic Tavels show layers of aroma and flavor ranging from peach melba to cream to that brilliant hit of wet rocks. And the color must be within a certain range of deeper coral pink to qualify as Tavel. At their prime, they are wildly complex and can age! I had a WSET Diploma classmate blind-taste us on an elder Tavel—I wanna say 30-ish years? We were confounded and mused…is it sherry? IS it sherry? It was tawny brown and funky but also still good. And as it turned out, it was Tavel. Not ideal at that state but don’t worry, Tavel is so good you will drink it probably even before it can show its age-ability stripes, hence why I have a problem keeping it in stock. But my gosh it ages handsomely. Historically, Château de Trinquevedel has been a favorite of mine. Still is. Although in lean times, I’ve been known to swig Tavel I found at Trader Joe’s, which wasn’t as nuanced and whatnot but still was so…TAVEL. I’d have included it in these reviews, but in the last month or so, suddenly (in typical TJ’s style) they seem to have taken it off the shelves. No matter. Here are my favorites from a recent gathering of Tavels. Skip to the end for the one I’d pick as my shower Tavel. 2021 Domaine de la Mordorée Cuvée La Reine des Bois Tavel 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Clairette, 10% Cinsault Reading other reviewers’ notes on this, no one gets the same aromatics/flavors. To me, this is sort of beautiful. It means the wine is its own thing, so to pin down its mysterious essence by comparing it to other things is futile. Yet I’ll try. Hardcore wet slate minerality on the nose and palate. Sweet red fruit, tangerine and sweet pink grapefruit notes are also on the nose and palate. There’s a hint of white pepper and keen acidity. Finishes with a hit of je ne sais quoi freshness. Really tremendous. I want to drink it all day and all night year in and year out. P.S. I also tried their “La Dame Rousse” wine, and it was also excellent but this truly is La Reine. 2021 Château Trinquevedel Tavel My OG favorite. The wine that got me into Tavel! And my current ride or die. The nose brings bright raspberry, peach melba vibes with a hint of spice and a shade of pine. The palate is luxuriously plush. At the same time, it is refreshing and surprisingly earthy with a finish that brings to mind crème brulée, go figure. I’ve posted multiple Trinquevedels to Delectable by now. Someday I need to do like a ten-year retrospective tasting. 2021 Domaine Amido Les Amandines Thoroughly pleasing, although a touch tangy. Zingy. Or should we call it spritely? Oddly, behind all that pungent raspberry, red cherry, and slight citrus tangerine-y tang I catch an ending note of white chocolate and I’m not mad at it. Expansive but direct. It’s sorta a no-nonsense “I’ll have none of your shenanigans” Tavel. 2021 Château de Segris Tavel Rosé I’ll be honest, there is an earthy note here, and for a hot second, I am like huh? And then I fall head over heels for this. There’s a depth of earth to this that is lifted with white pepper, then brought back to earth with holly berries, ash, and mistletoe. It is …REALLY good. 2021 Domaine Lafond Roc-Epine Tavel Almost alpine-like on the first go. It smells like sweet holly but with the freshness you get in the air when it is snowing. If that makes sense. SO FRESH but with that berry/forest vibe aka it smells Yuletide AF. By the mouthful, it is less Yuletide and more lemme-get-some-rich-but-frozen-berry times. All frozen raspberry, black cherry, and strawberries. Filled with vanilla ice cream except this is less cream and more snow, so I will call it vanilla ice milk without that being an insult. Good digs. 2021 Domaine Pélaquie Tavel This is the lightest and brightest of the bunch, perhaps shall I say the least Tavel-like? Yet still, it has the hallmarks: that deep slightly coppery pink color—albeit this one slightly less. Super fresh red berried on the tongue. A slightly lighter but very silky body brings in quite a kick of blood orange, so that is fun. A nice kick of salinity brings it all around. The finish is reminiscent of the very end of a Luden’s lozenge. Very pleasant. SHOWER TAVEL For a moment I thought it might be the Lafond Roc-Epine for the fresh factor, then realized it had to be my ride-or-die Trinquevedel. I sometimes wonder if my affection for it will always be influenced by it being my first love. Maybe someday someone will blind-taste me on it all but until then, I feel pretty confident that my love, if not empirical, is at least well-founded. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Want to read more from Ellen? Check out her recent articles: Wine Women All Year Round Old World vs. New World: Tannat Ellen in Lalaland: Escape to Santa Monica Add Sugar to Your Heart Big Barolo Energy What to Drink When You’re Not Drinking You can also listen to Ellen's podcast , The Wine Situation here . Check out her recent transcripts of the Final Five questions: Wine Situation Final Five! Kristen Barnhisel Wine Situation Final Five! Bella Crimson

Château de Trinquevedel

Tavel Grenache Rosé 2021

My ride or die Tavel. C’est tout. — a year ago

David, Peter and 11 others liked this

Domaine Lafond

Roc-Epine Tavel Rosé Grenache Blend 2021

So alpine-fresh and red berry chipper, it’s the wine I want to take to the winter formal. — a year ago

David, Peter and 8 others liked this

Domaine Pélaquié

Tavel Rosé Blend 2021

Rather light for a Tavel but worth a pour. — a year ago

Trixie, Karen and 6 others liked this

Domaine de la Mordorée

Cuvée La Reine des Bois Tavel Rosé Blend 2021

This wine is all over it—in terms of acid/alcohol/body balance yessss. I have my tasting notes: hardcore slate mineralogy and sweet red fruit and bits and bobs of white pepper…interestingly other reviewers had other exact nose/palate notes but overall we like the wine so it’s like that person you adore then meet someone else who loves them for another reason. And so on. All over this is a new favorite. — a year ago

Paul, Bob and 9 others liked this

Château de Ségriès

Tavel Grenache Blend Rosé 2021

Zingy and zingy and upfront. The Tavel to take none of your nonsense. — a year ago

David, Peter and 7 others liked this

Domaine de la Mordorée

La Dame Rousse Tavel Rosé Blend 2020

Woooo-eeeee do I love my Tavel. Bursting at the seams on the nose while cutting a figure on the palate, it’s like if a Betsey Johnson dress had an affair with a Chanel suit. So much strawberry and watermelon and white pepper on the nose with a hint of…okay something that almost makes me think of Hawaiian sweet bread oddly (but not unhappily) enough. With a hint of your friendly neighborhood potting soil. The palate is dry and sharp, with healthy acidity and a nice wet rock backbone, in addition to all the red fruited juicy goodness. The texture is lightweight satin, which is to say heavier than silk but not heavy as satin but with that smoothness. Omigod Tavel you guys. Get into it. It’s the wine for people who say they only drink red and also the wine for people who only drink white. — 2 years ago

Severn, Peter and 12 others liked this