Cooked wine ("Vin Cuit") in Provence
Cooked Wine ("Vin Cuit") is an ancestral tradition of Provence, especially around Aix-en-Provence. This dessert wine was generally served on New Years Eve or at local ceremonies such as “cacho fio”, an initiation session between generations at the St Trinity. If Nostradamus was already talking about it, it knew its golden age in the XIXth and XXth century thanks to the vineyards of Palette, even if its production remained artisanal and for family. Today the Cooked Wine of Provence is experiencing a renewed interest and is in development as in Château de Saint Martin for example. But what is the Cooked Wine of Provence? What does it mean? It is not a wine cooked in the strict sense. The must is cooked (the grape juice) and not the wine (which comes from the fermentation of the must). After pressing black or white grapes, the must is heated to reduce its volume by evaporation from 30 to 50%, but above all to increase its concentration of sugar and aromas. It must be made in a copper cauldron at controlled temperature to avoid any caramelization. It is exactly the same process used in Italy for the "vino cotto", in the base juice of the basalmic vinegars of Modena. Then this reduced must is deacidified with addition of selective yeasts for a fermentation which can last a few months. In the end we get a naturally sweet wine. It can be flavored. It is also aged in barrels to become more complex and mature.
There is no AOC at the moment it's just a process, a recipe (as vin santo in Italy). It could be possible to regulate this wine in an AOC region only if producers could attached this process with a delimited territory (like in Tuscany Vin Santo del Chianti Classico DOC). The alcoholic content could in theory naturally reach 20%.vol, but generally the fermentation is stopped (by cooling and sulphiting) or stops naturally before around 14.5%.vol with thus a high concentration of residual sugar. Hence the term sweet wine. For many French consumers especially, in particular elderly consumers, this term "cooked wine" is used for a lot of wine styles by mistake or misunderstanding, in particular for fortified wines (VDN in French for Vin Doux Naturel) such as Ports in Portugal or like in France Maury, Banyuls, Rasteau wines ... while there is no cooking at all in the process ... After a fermentation and a maceration of red or white grapes (Grenache noir most often) or pressing of white grapes, the wines are fortified by mutage with neutral alcohol, the yeasts are killed to guarantee their stability (with a final alcoholic content of 17.5%.vol or more for Port) with residual sugar concentrations varying from 70 to 150 g/l. The VDN is then raised either in reductive condition (vintage or rimage) or more often in oxidative condition and then takes notes of rancio (with typically walnuts flavors) ... often confused with this idea of cooking process. Madeira wines which are also fortified, undergo a process of heating the wine called Estufagem in their ageing process at temperatures of 50 - 55°C for the most basic over several weeks. But we are not talking about cooking but more heating because there is no search for evaporation but more maturation of the aromas of the wine. In the end, the only wine cooked in the strict sense of the term is to be found in Vin Chaud, or Vin Brûlé served at Christmas time with cinnamon ... also called Glogg in Denmark.
Grape Tous in Provence will therefore be happy to take you to taste through various tastings this traditional Cooked Wine of Provence.