The final leg of the tour was seen through pink glasses. I immersed myself in rosé country, an area I know from living in Nice a few years back but had never visited for vinous pursuits. My first stop was Château St. Baillon, our house pink. Johnny has known its charming proprietor, Hervé Goudard, since the late 80s – making Hervé one of our longest running suppliers. Our clients LOVE St. Baillon as much as we do. We have been very lucky to have excellent allocations of his delicious rosé but do sell out every vintage. After spending time with Hervé, I felt even more privileged as his domaine is really quite small for the region – only 30 hectares of vines make up the domaine’s holdings. He too is very pleased with his results in 2007, though due to the drought, production is down by 25%. He promised to supply us with as much St. Baillon as possible so that our clients will not get too thirsty!
A further two stops led me to Domaine de Jale and Château de Selle, the original Domaine Ott estate. Domaine de Jale is owned and run by one of the most passionate (and perfectionist) winemakers I have ever met. The soil around his estate is mostly comprised of a sedimentary red rock called grès rose which is acidic in origin and thus adds natural freshness to the wines. He has only been making wines for the past 9 years and so is a relative newcomer. But he is clearly on the right track. I tasted through his 2006 rosés as well as a white and a 2004 red and they were all delicious.
Despite the renown that Château de Selle (Domaine Ott) has achieved, I was delighted to discover how understated it is. Jean-François Ott guided me through a vineyard or two, the winery and revealed the secret of those unique bottles (I have promised never to tell!). A thorough tasting followed of both Château de Selle’s wines and their domaine in Bandol. The wines certainly lived up to their reputation – lots of concentration and weight.
My last stop was unique. Sacha Lichine, the former owner of Château Prieuré Lichine in Margaux, has created an unusual estate in the Côtes de Provence – Château d’Esclans. Upon selling his namesake Bordeaux Château, he reinvested the money in a longtime dream of producing the most compelling (and expensive) rosé ever produced. I was keen to visit his new domaine particularly after one of his bottles won a blind rosé tasting that we held in the office. Impressive does not even begin to describe what he has achieved. The facilities are truly state-of-the-art, like a scientist he describes certain cuvées as “prototypes”. The wines are in the most gorgeous bottles I have ever laid my eyes on. But are they good? Absolutely (one did win an office blind tasting after all). His domaine will be one to watch and was an absolutely glorious finale to a wonderful trip.