France is a country of winemaking tradition and offers unique wines in the world. Why? Terroir! The typical soil, climatic conditions and knowledge of winemakers are what give French wines their originality and excellence – and delivers a variety of wines, even within the same appellation.
Provence is perhaps not the most renowned wine-growing region in France, but it has great variety – and rosé wines are among the best. Wine-tastings, lunches or picnics on the grass, walks through the vines – discover this region, where vineyards nestle on the mountains and hills.
There are two main wine-growing areas:
- Côtes-du-Rhône: Vacqueyras, Gigondas, Châteauneuf-du-Pape etc.
- Provence: Cassis, Bellet, Bandol, Côteaux Varoix etc.
Find out more via our friends at provencewinezine.com who cover news and info about wines produced in the regions of Provence and the southern part of the Rhône Valley wine region.
“And the Luberon?” you ask. Unfortunately this region isn’t blessed with appellations as favourable as those mentioned above. Yes, Mother Nature wasn’t as generous with wine-growing soil here. But never mind, we can still offer you some of the cutest regional wines produced by talented winemakers.
The Lubéron has been a wine-growing region since the days of the Roman Empire, and it produces a number of wines of excellent quality. The blends of Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault are a delight to wine connoisseurs (for more info about Luberon wines visit vins-luberon.fr).
Lourmarin is located in the heart of the Côte du Luberon wine region, an appellation contrôlée that has existed just since 1988. Most of the wine production takes place in co-operatives, but there are some outstanding wines produced by private domaines very close by. The area is known for its red wines, but the white and rosé wines keep getting better and better. Wine tasting Many vineyards offer wine tasting on site, although it’s not always a very sophisticated set-up.
Larger wineries that are geared for visitors, where we’ve consistently enjoyed tastings, include:
- Château Val Joanis, Pertuis – val-joanis.com
- Domaine de Fontenille, Lauris – domainedefontenille.com
- Château Fontvert, Lourmarin – fontvert.com
- La Verrerie, Puget-sur-Durance – château-la-verrerie.com
- Chasson Châteaublanc, Rousillon – chasson-châteaublanc.fr
If you have a big budget or want to splurge for a special occasion, try Château La Coste, outside Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade. La Revue des Vins de France named it ‘Best Wine Destination in France 2015’. On offer are sensory workshops and in-depth courses on winemaking and blending or wine-tasting and food pairing. (book via château-la-coste.com – or ask us about arranging private vineyard tours). Also on site are a luxury hotel, spa, restaurants, gardens and extensive and exclusive art exhibitions and events – well worth the visit.
Yves Rousset-Rouard, who was mayor of Menerbes from 1995 until 2014, restored an old town mansion to create the House of Truffles and Wine, with a well-stocked cellar that offers free tastings. There is also a restaurant serving dishes with truffles and offering wines from the Lubéron. It has a garden with magnificent views across the valley.
Giving himself over to his passion – corkscrews! – he also founded the Musée du Tire-Bouchon, a Mecca for helixophiles, which has 1,000 corkscrews on display, some as old as 300 years It can be found in the family vineyard, Domaine de la Citadelle, 2km from the village.
Look out for the annual (July) ‘Wine and Dine’ social evening in Lourmarin hosted by the Lubéron AOC winegrowers’ association. Meet the growers, taste the best cuvées, and nibble on delicacies sold from food trucks on site, with live music.
Wines we recommend
We particularly recommend three delicious organic wines offered by our merchant friend, Jean-Charles, grown without pesticides or chemical treatments on unique terroirs. First, we go along the Mediterranean with these two wines of the finest appellation vineyards in Provence – Bandol and Cassis. Their proximity to the sea adds a fresh tone to the wines. These should accompany wonderful Provençale summer meals, such as fish or salads, and of course is perfect for casual drinks around the pool.
- Bandol rosé from Ray-Jane estate, located high up in the village of Castellet, is a gastronomic rosé produced from old vines grown on terraced hills.
- The white from Cassis’s Clos St Magdeleine estate, which enjoys an exceptional location at the foot of cliffs in Soubeyranes plunging to the sea, giving this wine a salt note, characteristic of this area.
- From appellation Châteauneuf-du-Pape, discover a great 2013 red from Domaine de l’or de Line, which is very aromatic, punctuated with sweet scents of spice and bay leaf. Marry this with a rare grilled steak or perhaps a roast, to delight even the most demanding tastebuds.
Finally, we also recommend two lovely wines produced within minutes of Lourmarin:
- Cuvée rosé (€10) from the relatively new Fontenille estate, on the outskirts of Lauris
- Souleu E Terraire rosé (€8.10) from Château Fontvert just outside Lourmarin
Where to buy wine
At Louérion wine co-operative (hosted at La Cave à Lourmarin as well as in Cadenet and Cucuron) you’ll be able to taste and buy a good range. Or try Les Caves du Château, which as the name suggests is below the Lourmarin château. For everyday drinking, you’ll find a good selection (aisles and aisles!) of French wines at most supermarkets. Also shop at weekly farmers’ markets, where local producers often have a stall.
Château la Dorgonne to Tour d’Aigues
Explore the château’s vineyards, viticultural methods used, and winemaking cellars along signposted walks with information points.
- 45-min walk: no special hiking gear is needed and is accessible with pushchairs (with big wheels)
- 90-min walk: walking shoes are required.
More info: châteauladorgonne.com
Château Fontvert to Lourmarin
- Take the free guided walk, 5pm Thursdays (June to Sept). Book in advance: +33 (0)4 90 68 35 83 or email [email protected]
- Walk along the discovery track, two circuits of 1.7km and 1.5km, with info panels explaining the culture of the vine, the terroir and the flora and fauna of the Lubéron.
More info: fontvert.com
The walk leaves from the car park at the Cave Co-opérative, opposite the tourist office. Walkers and hikers, with the help of a leaflet, will explore Cucuron’s viticultural past. There are two circuits, one of 3.5km and the other 4km, using public roads and paths. Just follow the signposting (a stencilled stylised bunch of grapes). The longer, western looped circuit takes around 90mins.