We had a very good two and a half weeks in Provence recently. Really enjoyed drinking some different wines. We spent one week in Cassis, near Marseilles. I had never encountered the wine of this appelation (second oldest in France). Mainly white, but a lot of rosé. We encountered no reds, although a tiny quantity is produced. Not cheap, but really very good. Grown on limestone and clay soils. Many wines had a distinctly mineral character (yes I know you hate that description, but it means something to me). Interestingly reminiscent of Chablis, yet made from very different grapes – Ugni Blanc, Bourbelenc, Marsanne, Sauvignon Blanc, Clairette for the whites. One of the best producers is located just 300 metres from our apartment and therefore we obviously paid a visit. Clos Saint Magdeleine is actually the most beautifully located vineyard I have ever visited being based in the Calenques with vineyards on precipitous slopes going from mountains down to the sea. It has been used as a location in a number of films.
A charming young lady talked us through the wines and showed us round the magnificent vineyard. Superb wines. These included a very fine Vermintino wine (the grape being known locally as Rolle). This wine is only classified as IGP as the Vermintino Is not permitted within the Cassis AOP designation.
It was unfortunate that when we rushed home to drink the Vermintino wine with that evening’s dinner that it was corked! This was returned and exchanged for a fine bottle which was consumed the next evening!
More shocking to those who know me as a fiercely non rosé drinker I actually really enjoyed several rosé wines in Cassis. Made from a mix of southern Rhône and Provençal grapes (Cinsault, Mourvèdre, Grenache and Carignan) there was again a very attractive mineral aspect to the bouquet which added bite and complexity to the floral and red fruit characteristics usually found in rosé. Indeed this was also found in one or two rosés de Provence tasted from just outside of the appellation.
While in Aix de Provence We spent a day at the nearby Irish owned Chateau de Coste in the Coteaux d’Aix en Provence AOP. Spent the morning going round this state of the art biodynamic winery and tasting their well made wines. This was followed by a fine lunch in one of their three restaurants! Again very good quality and excellent service. The afternoon was spent on a two hour guided tour round the vineyards in which we saw over twenty of the 30 plus modern art installations from a wide range of famous modern artists. Our guide was a student from Oxford university doing her language year abroad – but she really knew her modern art. Imagine the Yorkshire sculpture park in 26 degrees in early October set in rolling hills, among vines following an excellent wine tasting and very fine meal and you will realise why I would strongly recommend a visit to any members in the region.