With summer on the horizon, a trip to the south of France to visit some of our rosé wine producers seemed like a perfect escape from April showers in England. I wasn’t disappointed.
After landing at Toulon airport, surprisingly small and very efficient, we met our driver and were whisked off to our first Vineyard, Chateau Saint Marguerite.
A family owned and run business through and through, currently under the stewardship of the Charismatic Jean-Pierre. His sons also run various aspects of the business, and with seven grandchildren the Chateau will be in safe hands for years to come.
We met Jean-Pierre at the Chateau, greeted by the palm trees depicted on the label. After a brief introduction we sat down for dinner. The delicious Marguerite Organic Rosé was of course flowing and matched up wonderfully to the traditional provençal dishes served by Jean-Pierre’s wife.
A fantastically well balanced wine, the red berry fruits and delicate floral aromas are held together with a refreshing acidity. As close to ‘Summer in a Glass’ as you are likely to find on Majestic’s shelves.
The next day Jean-Pierre had arranged for us to visit the beautiful island of Porquerolles, where we rented bikes and even swam in the sea after finding an idyllic deserted beach. If you are ever touring the Cote d’Azure, this gem of an island is a must visit. There was just time for a final glass of Rosé with Jean-Pierre before we said our goodbyes and went on our way to meet our next producers, Famille Negrel.
Another family business, the property was purchased in 1813 by Jean-Jacques Négrel and his brothers. Today Guy Négrel runs the estate helped by his children Maud & Matthieu and they are celebrating the 200th anniversary of the estate this year!
Saint Victoire is a sub-appelation inside the generic Côtes de Provence appellation. Located between the two mountains of Sainte Victoire and Monts Auréliens, the terroir expresses itself in the wines. Giving great depth of flavour and creating a complex rosé wine, to be enjoyed with food. A fantastic choice for Tapanade, olives and other provencal starters.
After meeting Maud and Matthieu, we picnicked at fantastic viewpoint overlooking the Saint Victoire appellation. I have long thought that a large part of the enjoyment of wine is not just taken from the quality of the liquid in the bottle, but the atmosphere and environment in which you drink it. This evening was a great combination of wine, company and location which will leave fond memories for years to come.
The next day after a tour of the vineyard and a wonderful BBQ lunch it was time to bid farewell to Maud and Matthieu and head to our next producer, Chateau Minuty, on the outskirts of St Tropez.
Another family business, created in 1936 by Gabriel Farnet the grandfather of the charismatic Francois, who runs operations today with his brother Jean-Etienne. Minuty is a huge operation, the largest of the three wineries we visited, producing around 3million bottles a year. Despite this impressive volume however, the quality is as high as ever. A point Francois was keen to stress, stating that if you lose control of what is in the bottle, then you have nothing.
The tour around the bottling plant was fascinating, this is big business, but with a constant eye on quality. Francois added a nice touch by ensuring that the pallet of M de Minuty we saw being bottled was destined for Majestic shelves. After our tour we had a quick tasting of the wines before being whisked off to a seaside restaurant for lunch. It was here that Minuty really began to make sense, a slightly lighter style, easy drinking with a focus on crisp refreshing flavours and mouth-watering acidity. It was the perfect accompaniment to the seafood menu. We ate, and talked, and drank, with the sun on our backs and the sea in our ears. This is what Provence, and Provence rosé is all about.
Discover Provence Rose online at majestic.co.uk
A Short Summer Break in the South of France: Provence