Wednesday, 21 March 2012

A day in Provence

Handy late flight from Bordeaux down to Marseille; cuts out a huge amount of driving. Picked up hire car, spent a good five mins trying to find the handbrake (on the dash, merci Citroen) and headed for St Tropez. After many km's of winding road, I arrived late at the little town of Cogolin so it was head-down to be ready for an early start.

A sunny but blustery morning as I made my way to Celliers des Ramatuelle on the outskirts of St.Tropez.

Glad I got up early as the truck was an hour late. Further south you go the more laid back it gets … makes the Bordelais look punctual. However they get away with it, no grumpy, complaining old men truck drivers ‘a-la’ Bordeaux, here; the truck drivers are lovely young ladies! Well, this is Saint Tropez!

I was paying a flying visit to the cellar to ensure our delicate 2011 rosé doesn't fall at the last hurdle and is safely transported from the winery to the bottle without oxidising. That would turn that beautiful, classic Provencal pale-pink colour to a dull orange.

This is the place to be for Rosé. It’s big business here and rose makes up 80% of their total production. Ramatuelle village is up on the la Colline de Paillas, just south of Saint Tropez at an altitude of 130m. The combination of slate soil, cool nights and proximity to the sea gives lovely fruit-driven wines with low alcohol.

2011 was a good year for rose with a much-needed wet winter, warm and dry spring, and a good summer with the odd storm that thankfully brought no hail. The wines resulted in being very aromatic with great colour and a slightly higher acidity than previous vintages.

On arrival at the winery the president, aka the 'Doc Brown' of Provence,' was as animated as ever and began by drawing up a quite mad, over-complicated plan to get the heavy CO2 bottle up to the tanker. I was thinking "maybe a longer hose?", but that's nowhere near as exciting or dangerous as calling in a forklift and balancing a huge cylinder of CO2 on a rickety wooden pallet accompanied by a cellar hand for extra risk and lifting him up to the top of the tanker!

We got there in the end and I am very glad to say no injuries occured.

So with the wine avoiding every possible contact with air and no Doc Brown ideas given the chance of affecting the wine quality, we were soon on the way to the bottling plant in Brignolles.

The wine will be available soon so give it a try, remember you can drink rose all year round. I do.

Job done and back to the Aeroport de Marseille-Provence for a hop back up to Bordeaux. Need to be at Le Chai first thing as Les Secrets des Etoiles comes out of barrel tomorrow … mum’s the word!

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