Misty summer mornings, fragrant vines heavy with drops of dew kissed by the occasional honey bee. The sun’s rays dance through meticulously planted rows of grapes when perfectly ripened will be fashioned into the nectar of the Gods. Such are the wine regions in the South of France: Vineyards are planted next to lush forests and both wine and wine making are a way of life.
The South of France is notable among French wine regions for consistently fine growing conditions. The northern latitude (even in the South of France, the region is still far north of almost all of Spain and Italy’s vineyards) ensures long days during the growing season, offering fully-ripened grapes. The Gulf Stream and Mediterranean Sea keep it balmy, while steady winds banish humidity that can cause diseased vines and grapes. The newest generation of winemakers here focuses on producing high-quality wines reflecting specific appellations.
When you have chosen a regal castle in which to stay during your trip to France, we suggest exploring some of the most well-known and well-loved wineries of the southern region. We have chosen three of these for your consideration:
Château de Bellet
The beautiful vineyard at Château de Bellet surrounds a lovely chapel. Located about 20 minutes outside of Nice, this winery ages its bottles for an average of 30 years and offers wine tours all year. The Barons of Bellet began to plant vines on the land in the 18th century. The chapel was built in honor of Agnès Roissard de Bellet in 1873 and is one of the major landmarks recalling the heritage of this illustrious family. Today, the chapel serves as the reception area, tasting room and boutique. Château de Bellet uses organic farming methods ensuring its wines are among the very best. There are three wine offerings; Château de Bellet, La Chapelle, and Agnès. Appellations are fashioned from rare grape varieties such as Rolle, Braquet and Folle Noire. The unique soil here is a result of the vineyard’s placement between the mountains and the sea, so sunshine is at a premium. You can learn more about the terroir of the vineyard through a private tour and tasting. A very interesting note: Château de Bellet’s cuvee Baron G Rouge was served at Prince Albert the 2nd of Monaco and Princess Charlene’s 2011 wedding.
We recommend: The Agnès Rouge from 100% Folle Noire grapes. It’s full-bodied with a long, fresh finish. Hints of black fruits, vanilla, prunes and plums. This wine has an aging potential of about 15 years. It pairs well with hearty meats like beef and wild meat such as venison.
Located above St. Tropez, Château Roubine stretches over 130 acres of land, 72 of which are for grape vines. The property is brimming with history and has been in existence since the 1300s. It is one of the finest in the region, formally recognized by decree in 1955. At the beginning of the 14th century, Château Roubine was the property of the Order of the Templars before being ceded in 1307 to the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. In the 15th century, the château became the prerogative and pride of various great Provençal families. Through an inheritance in 1923, the château returned to Henri de Rohan Chabot who entrusted it to the Ott family. Valérie Rousselle Varoise became the owner in 1994. In 1955, Château Roubine was one of the 23 wineries recognized by decree as a "Cru Classé" of the Côtes de Provence.
We recommend: Lion and Dragon Rosé. Grapes are harvested by hand in early morning hours and kept cold for 24 hours after which time they’re sorted for pressing. This beautifully-colored wine matches well with pork, shellfish, poultry and vegetables. It has hints of lime and lemon peel, wild strawberries, red currants and gooseberries.
The ultimate in elite accommodation is most definitely staying in a historic estate. The epitome of a France luxury rental is a castle and there is none more stately or elite than Chateau Ophelia – one of the most beautiful moated medieval castles in France, restored to perfection by its owners. With room for 44 guests, this magnificent castle would be the ideal place for a vacation with family and good friends. The incredible chateau features a spectacular 80-foot long heated indoor pool. Also featured are tennis courts and billiard and game board rooms. There are two libraries, a conference room, several dining rooms, reception rooms, an elevator, sauna, massage room and wine cellar, not to mention the astounding gardens which are in full bloom in the spring and summer making for glorious walks.
Domaine de Terrebrune
This winery, on 30 acres, is in Ollioules, a village close to Toulon. The vineyard specializes in red, white and rosé wines. George Delille took over the land in 1963 and turned it into a functioning vineyard. Georges spent 10 years just renovating the property; he terraced hillsides, refashioned the masonry, replanted vineyards, designated soils to lie dormant and regenerate, and built a new cellar. In 1980, his son Reynald, joined him after finishing winemaking school, and together they launched their first bottle of Domaine de Terrebrune Reynald named in honor of the rich, brown soil they farm organically. Gentle maritime breezes funnel air into the vineyards directly from the Mediterranean, cooling the grapes from the sun – another factor safeguarding freshness.
We recommend: Terrebrune Bandol Blanc with a delicate fruity floral nose with fresh, balanced flavors of honeysuckle, lily, grapefruit and almond. The palate has a medium acidity and a bit of salinity on the finish. Pleasant as an aperitif and with seafood, but also with pork, poultry, goat cheese, red fruits and desserts.
When France is on your vacation list, we can take the stress out of all the planning. LVH guests know they can rely on us to give them first-class, full service luxury accommodations as well as amazing experiences tailor-made to their unique desires. We invite you to reach out to one of our client relations professionals who will begin planning your wonderful vacation to France to experience incredible wineries or any other destination where sampling wines is a must!