I’m excited to present my very first guest blogger today, wine connoisseur Chrissie McClatchie. I’ve been thinking about a post dedicated to local wines for a while but while I know when I like a wine that about as far as my knowledge goes. I’m no expert, so who better to ask to write a post for me than a local specialist! I hope you enjoy her tour of some of the best nearby vineyards whether you’re on the Côte d’Azur or reading from afar.
Guest Post from Chrissie at The Riviera Grapevine
If you’re lucky enough to have experienced first hand the wonderful hospitality and charm of Lou Messugo, you’ll already know that Phoebe’s beautiful holiday rental is perfectly situated to take advantage of the sun, the sea and all the natural beauty the Côte d’Azur offers.
Yet, of all the reasons why you may be considering booking in here for your summer break, I’m guessing that wine tasting may not be one of them. After all, the French Riviera doesn’t exactly have the same lofty reputation as Bordeaux, Burgundy or even nearby Avignon and Aix-en-Provence when it comes to the grape.
That’s why I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the quality of wine to be discovered along this glittering coastline, all within easy reach of Roquefort-les-Pins. This is the land of the pink drink after all, and there’s no better match to a Mediterranean summer’s day than a chilled glass of Provence rosé. But there is a whole array of other local wines to be discovered as well.
So here is a selection of vineyards to explore, each within easy reach of your home-away-from-home, Lou Messugo. It’s a chance to embark on a tasting adventure which combines top quality wines in some rather spectacular locations.
All roads may not lead to Saint-Jeannet from Roquefort-les-Pins, but Phoebe will help you find the right one to this pretty hilltop village, named after the dominating baou (cliff face) which bears the same name.
There’s one remaining vineyard here, the Vignoble des Hautes Collines de la Côte d’Azur. It’s a family affair. Brothers George and Dennis Rasse craft the wines, whilst Rémy designs bright and whimsical labels which reflect the nature of the vintage. Warmer vintages equal brighter colours, cooler colours mean a cooler year.
The vineyard is also known for their iconic bonbonnieres: big, bulbous glass bottles in which the wine is left to have maximum contact with the sunlight.
A visit is highly recommended to discover their impressive array of red, white and rosé wines, including a sweet and sparkling wine!
It’s a little known fact (even locally) that there is such a thing as Nice wine! The vineyards of Bellet, in the hills of the city, are unique for many reasons.
It is the only place in the world where you’ll find wine made from the grape varieties Braquet and Folle Noir, which are the main ingredients in a Bellet rosé and red wine respectively. Rolle (or Vermentino) is also grown and is often blended with Chardonnay to make a Bellet white.
There are 11 vineyards in Bellet, most of which still family owned and operated. Whilst Château de Bellet and Domaine de Toasc are two of the finest exponents of this local drop, all vineyards welcome visitors. It is, however, advisable to phone ahead to organise your tasting.
Rosé territory in St Tropez
Chances are a day-trip to the famed fishing port of St Tropez is already on your itinerary, since it’s close to being the quintessential French Riviera experience.
Whilst the land around the gulf of St Tropez may be prime real estate, the soils are also perfect for crafting some of the finest examples of Provence rosé you will find.
One of my favourite producers nearby is Château Minuty, not just because they make three different types of perfectly fresh and fruity rosé! The estate, one of the big names in Provence, is situated on an impressive 70 hectares and offers a beautiful vista overlooking the gulf of St Tropez.
Further inland, near Le Muy, Château Margüi produce some of the most delightful rosés, whites and reds in a truly beautiful Provençal setting. Their bright tasting room welcomes visitors Monday-Friday and you’re encouraged to pop by to say hi!
Wherever you decide to go, you’re in for some wonderful and classically French Riviera discoveries.
Chrissie McClatchie is a Sydneysider living in Nice working for a local wine company. She writes her blog The Riviera Grapevine as a legitimate reason to keep tasting, writing and learning about all things wine related on the Côte d’Azur and beyond.