Benjamin Mei has a lot of energy. Frantic, creative, existing-on-little-sleep energy like few people I have ever met. Benjamin is making wine. He is sourcing fruit from excellent vineyards and happily fumbling through the rocky rows of grapes in the fairly new Mont Sainte-Victoire appellation and finding the best grapes for his specific approach to wine from the area of Provence under the label Rose Infinie.
The rose has special significance in vineyards in France and it is traditional to plant a rosebush at the end of a vineyard row to warn the grower of the presence of disease before it affects the vines. The rose dies first.
“I will pick the Rose
At the foot of the vine
And I will offer it to you
As a symbol of our infinite love.”
Before returning to the site of his education and the region in which his family still lives (Aubagne), Benjamin had a long career in Chile, most recently as the Director and Winemaker at Vina Alpatagua, for which he built an excellent reputation. Coming back to France meant breaking into the fast-emerging rosé market that has taken the world by storm in the last few years.
He didn't have a family vineyard so his choices were slim but he had kept his winemaking contacts close in Provence. Benjamin would rely on these as he did something very atypical in France by sourcing and buying grapes and then making his wine at a production facility.
Sourcing grapes from areas that possess the finest terroirs and growing capacities for a certain varietal is now common in California and throughout the U.S. but not in France. All Pinot Noir lovers can remember discovering Adam Lee and his Siduri brand being made – and publicly tasted – in an industrial park facility. Adam Lee broke the mold much the way Ben Mei is in the south of France.
Benjamin Mei is proud that his first two vintages have been warmly received and he has distribution throughout the world and his American market is starting to develop. The Rosé of Rose Infinie is a combination of Grenache Noir and Cinsault and is consistently awarded as a great value for a wine of its caliber. It can usually be found between $15-16 and is spectacularly packed with strawberry and citrus aromas and mineral characteristics that truly reflect the Mont St. Victoire volcanic soils. A very nice fruit-filled finish with refreshing acidity in the 2015 and the barrel sample we tried of 2016 is even slightly better.
The white of Rose Infinie is a blend of Vermentino and Ugni Blanc with white fruit aromas such as pears, peaches and sometimes melon. In the mouth this white wine is characterized by a delicate freshness, one can find citrus embellished with notes of white flowers.
The Rose Infinie red is a blend of Carignan Noir, Syrah and Mourvedre and is dark red in color with purple hues. The nose is rich and intense with small red fruit aromas, notes of spice and a slight touch of vanilla. In the mouth, cassis and dried berries with balanced silky tannins on the finish.
The Wines of Provence will be touring major cities in the U.S. this year but look for Benjamin Mei's Rose Infinie to be coming on strong through the country. He has the kind of energy that will make it happen!