Château Miraval Côtes de Provence Rouge 2004
The Côtes de Provence is an immense and varied wine-producing area encompassing more
than 50,000 acres planted to vine, 80% of whose production is rosé. The appellation is not
even one contiguous mass, but four distinct patches between Marseilles and Cannes, separated
by the Côteaux de Varois, Bandol, and a good deal of non-vine growing land.
Château Miraval, in the largest patch running northeast from Toulon toward Cannes and Nice, encompasses 75 acres of vineyards overlooked by thirteen varieties of olive trees, at an altitude of just over 1000 feet. Miraval's history dates back to pre-Roman times, but it is the property's role as a center for music production over the past few decades that sets it apart today. Created by pianist Jacques Loussier in the 1970's, Studio Miraval has welcomed the likes of Pink Floyd, Sting, Sade and the Cranberries.
The creation of wine, from grape in the field, to a mushy mass in the winery, to ultimate aging and bottling, seems analogous to the creative process musicians go through, sometimes well focused, often improvisatory, especially when they can avail themselves of modern recording technology. Each creative product has a past, enhanced by tradition, and a present, furthered by technology. Each product depends on a complicated global infrastructure to bring the creation from its source to the ultimate connoisseur, in this wine's case, in a substantial Bordeaux style bottle.
The $20 wine is 80% Syrah with 20% Cabernet Sauvignon (you might find Grenache in
many of Miraval's other red vintages, and it is added to old vine Cinsaut in its flagship
rosé.) To the best of my knowledge, these grapes, hand-picked, are organically grown. Most
of the wine is aged a year in new oak, before being bottled on the estate. The wine is a clear
ruby, with brambly raspberry, pomegranate, pepper and vanilla on the nose. The wine is dry,
medium bodied, with cherry, berry jam, vanilla, dried herb (garrigue), and sweet oak on the
palate, soft tannins, a friendly mouthfeel and a long ripe finish. This is a direct rather than a
complex wine, well balanced in the advantages it offers. The fruit, though flavorful, is not
over-concentrated, and this is good, resulting in a multi-dimensional wine that though easy to
drink, remains firmly in the Old World camp. I yearn to taste this wine at its source (and
don't think I wouldn't cut a few tracks in that studio).
Verdict: Effective and Direct
Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon partner well in many configurations.
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman
Château Miraval's vineyards are located between the eastern-most and largest swath of the
Côtes de Provence on this map and the Côteaux Varois.