Left to Right: Adeline de Barry, Chateau de Saint-Martin; Aurélie Bertin Teillaud, Chateau Sainte Roseline; Valérie Rousselle, Chateau Roubine
This past September on a great trip that covered 10 countries in 18 days my wife, Laurie, and I, along with our friends and neighbors, Jim and Marcia Wolfe, spent a week on the Côte d’Azure in France. (A complete report on that trip will be posted soon.) A real highlight of the trip were the visits to three wineries in the Côtes de Provence – Chateau de Saint-Martin, Chateau Sainte Roseline, and Chateau Roubine. All three are rated Cru Classé and have dynamic women owners – Adeline de Barry of Chateau de Saint-Martin, Aurélie Bertin Teillaud of Chateau Sainte Roseline, and Valérie Rousselle of Chateau Roubine. They are all producing a range of rosé, white, and red wines of great style and finesse. The ladies are charming, delightful, and extremely knowledgeable. They are a great tribute to the heritage and tradition of the region and their wines are an eloquent expression of what the Côtes de Provence has to offer.
There are 14 wineries classified Cru Classé in the Côtes de Provence. This ranking was done in 1955. And, this area is one of only two areas in France where the classification is by wine estate. The other is Bordeaux where the classification was done a hundred years before in 1855. All other classifications in France are by vineyard area, including Burgundy and Champagne.
The Côtes de Provence is a large noncontiguous wine region in eastern Provence. This region accounts for nearly 75% of all wine production in Provence and rosé accounts for about 80% of the total. The area of Provence has a very long history of wine production. Some believe that early inhabitants may have used indigenous vines to produce wine before the arrival of the Greeks in 600 BC. The Romans came in 125 BC and by that time the wine produced there had a reputation of being of high quality. Since that time the region has been influenced by a wide range of people and cultures. The phylloxera epidemic reached the area at the end of the 19th century and devastated the vines. Later, the arrival of the railroad and the development of tourism on the French Riviera resulted in soaring production of rosé which was very compatible with the climate and the regional cuisine. And, so it is today.
In fact, during our stay we felt very much at home. You see, we reside in Santa Barbara, California which is known as America’s Riviera and we drink a lot of rosé from Provence as well as rosés from other areas. While in Provence, we tried hard to try as many rosés as possible. But, without question, the real standouts were the wines from the wine estates of the three wonderful ladies that we visited. Notes on each Chateau and their wines as well as notes on wines tasted follow.
CHATEAU DE SAINT-MARTIN
Vines were first planted here by the Romans in the 2nd century. From the 10th to the 18th centuries it was a monastery. And since 1740 it has been owned by the same family and passed down from mother to daughter. The energetic and knowledgeable Adeline de Barry took over from her mother, the Comtesse de Gasquet, in 1996. Shortly after our visit, in October of 2011 Adeline received the Cross of the French Legion of Honor for her work and contribution to the region and its wines.
The estate encompasses some 250 acres with 125 acres in vineyards as well as an impressive chateau, winery, tasting room, and chapel. The Chateau was constructed in 1740. There are 4 rooms available for rent and reportedly one of them was used in filming Lady Chatterley’s Lover! Va Va Voom!! Chateau de Saint-Martin is a beautiful historic place with great charm and a wonderful place to visit. (To visit the website click here )
The wines of Chateau de Saint-Martin show great character and balance. Adeline de Barry is passionate about maintaining the historical methods and making traditional wines. Rosé accounts for about 60% of the production here. The major wines of Chateau de San-Martin are rosé, red, and white wines under two different labels. They are as follows:
- Cuvée Grande Reserve – Wines blended from different varieties of grapes.
- Cuvée Comtesse de Saint Martin – Wines comprised of a blend of grapes from old vines with labels having pictures of the ladies who have headed the wine estate over time.
In addition, there are several other wines and a distilled spirit made:
- Cuvée de Rohan Chabot – The best structured red wines.
- Cuvée Eternelle Favorite – A rosé made in a more feminine style.
- Traditional Method – Sparkling white and rosé wines.
- Vin Cuit de Provence – A port style wine.
- Marc de Provence – A distilled spirit.
- No.2 – A second wine made as a red and rosé.
2010 Chateau de Saint-Martin Cuvée Grande Reserve Rosé Cru Classé Côtes de Provence.
Made from equal parts Grenache, Tibouren, Syrah, Carignan, and Cinsault from 1/3 vines 30-80 years old, 1/3 vines 10-20 years old, and 1/3 vines 5-10 years old, this rose has a very pale amber color with a golden hue. The floral perfume is lovely with a tinge of citrus and a faint underlying minerality. Balanced with lovely citrus tinged fruit showing a subtle peach nuance, this is delicious – Outstanding.
2010 Chateau de Saint-Martin Cuvée Eternelle Favorite Rosé Cru Classé Côtes de Provence.
A rosé of great elegance and finesse, this wine is made from 60% Tibouren and 20% each Cinsault and Carignan. It is very pale salmon pink in color and has a lovely floral perfume with tinges of apricot. Refined and very pure the wine is balanced and shows a subtle intermingling of strawberry and citrus and is supple yet with a nice underlying crispness on the finish – Outstanding.
2010 Chateau de Saint-Martin Cuvée Comtesse de Saint Martin Rosé Cru Classé Côtes de Provence.
This wine is made from Syrah and Carignan grapes grown on old vines. The production is limited to around 250 cases per year. Pale salmon pink in color with a faint golden hue and golden edge the wine has a gorgeous floral citrus perfume with tinges of spice. It has lovely fruit and flavor with hints of citrus and spice and a faint floral undertone. Balanced and elegant with a long crisp finish this is a gorgeous rosé – Outstanding.
2010 Chateau de Saint-Martin Cuvée Grande Reserve Blanc Cru Classé Côtes de Provence.
Made from 50% Rolle, 30% Ugni Blanc, and 20% Clairette, this wine is pale yellow in color and has a gorgeous floral perfume with tinges of citrus and a subtle minerality. It is crisp and refined but with lovely fruit and complexity and the finish is long and crisp – Outstanding.
2010 Chateau de Saint-Martin Cuvée Comtesse de Saint Martin Blanc Cru Classé Côtes de Provence.
This wine is made from 60% Rolle and 40% Clairette with ½ of the wine fermented in wood and aged for a period of some 8 months. It is light yellow in color and has a terrific perfume that is faintly spicy and honeyed with floral nuances. Balanced and elegant with complex flavors hinting of spice and honey and a floral citrus undertone this is a gorgeous wine – Outstanding.
2009 Chateau de Saint-Martin Cuvée Grande Reserve Rouge Cru Classé Côtes de Provence.
With a deep color this wine is made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Mouvèdre, and Syrah. It has a deep color and a lovely floral perfume with hints of cherry and cedar and a faint earthiness. The wine is supple and fruity with a slight cedary quality and a soft underlying tannin – Highly Recommended.
2005 Chateau de Saint-Martin Cuvée Comtesse de Saint Martin Rouge Cru Classé Côtes de Provence.
This wine is made with ½ Syrah aged in new oak for one year and blended with equal parts Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon. With 6 years of age this is the current release. With a deep color showing a very faint amber tinge the wine has a floral vanilla tinged perfume with hints of berries, olives, and herbs. It has nice fruit with a plummy spicy nuance and a soft underlying tannin – Highly Recommended.
CHATEAU SAINTE ROSELINE
This property has a history dating back to the mid 10th century when a hermit named Roubaud settled here. He was led to this spot by a spring that assured a water source. Over time an abbey was established. From 1300 to 1329, Roseline, daughter of the lord of the Arcs, was the Mother Prioress of the abbey. She was very pious and generous and was loved by all. Thereafter, the site was known as Roseline. In the 14th century the Bishop of Frejus, the future John XXII, planted one of the first vineyards of Provence on the site and the first harvest of grapes here was in 1315. In the nineteenth century, Roseline was canonized and the site became Sainte Roseline. The remarkably well preserved body of Sainte Roseline now rests in a glass shrine in the chapel on the property.
In 1994 Bernard Teillaud purchased the property from Henri de Laval Rasque who was the first President of the Syndicate des Virnerons du Var. The goal was to do a complete restoration and the property and the ancient buildings with the addition of a modern winery. During this time Some 80% of the vines have been replanted. In 2007, Aurélie Bertin Teillaud, daughter of Bernard, assumed control of the property. Aurélie, is energetic and ambitious with a goal to preserve the site and produce quality wines. Today Chateau Roseline is a beautiful site that is immaculately restored and preserved. It is a wonderful historic place to visit. (To visit the website click here )
Under the careful direction of Aurélie, including diligent care of the vineyards, a modern winery and equipment, and traditional verification, the wines are impressive. They have great character, finesse, and charm. Rosé accounts for about 55% of production here with red wine about 35% and white wine 10%. There are five different categories of wine made and bottled in different types of bottles and often with different types of grapes. And all feature a rosé, red, and white. They are as follows:
- Harmonie de Roseline – A blend of trade wines made on the property.
- Perle de Roseline – A trade business based on a selection of vineyard parcels and supervision of winemaking with bottling at the property.
- La Chapelle de Sainte Roseline – Cru Classé wines made from estate grapes.
- Cuvée du Prieur – Cru Classé wine made from a selection of the best estate parcels with different techniques and extended aging.
- Cuvée Lampe de Méduse – The heart of Cru Classé production made with different techniques and extended aging. Presented in a bottle created in 1950 by Baroness Rasque Laval who gave it its name in honor of the Knights of Medusa, which had a habit of “Lamper wine,” literally “drink in one gulp a large amount of wine” before each induction.
2010 Chateau Sainte Roseline La Chapelle de Sainte Roseline Rosé Cru Classé Côtes de Provence.
This rosé is made from 80% Mouvèdre and 20% Syrah. It has a very pale orange amber color with a faint golden hue and a golden edge. The wine has an intense floral perfume with hints of peach and citrus. It has gorgeous citrus tinged peach fruit with balance and finesse and a long crisp finish – Outstanding.
2010 Chateau Sainte Roseline Cuvée du Prieur Rosé Cru Classé Côtes de Provence.
Made from Mouvèdre and Syrah and aged 4 months in oak this rosé is pale salmon pink in color with a golden edge. It has a lovely floral spice tinged perfume with a hint of raspberry. It is fruity, elegant, and supple with a nice citrus tinge and great finesse – Outstanding.
2010 Chateau Sainte Roseline Cuvée Lampe de Méduse Rosé Cru Classé Côtes de Provence.
Made from 35% Cinsault, 30% Grenache, 15% Mouvèdre, 10% Syrah, and 10% Tibouren, this rosé is very pale golden orange in color with a golden hue and golden edge. It has a deep floral citrus perfume with hints of strawberry and peach. With delicious fruit showing peach, citrus, and strawberry nuances, the wine is supple, round, and lush with nice crisp, lingering finish – Outstanding Plus.
2010 Chateau Sainte Roseline La Chapelle de Sainte Roseline Blanc Cru Classé Côtes de Provence.
This wine is made from 100% Rolle and aged for 8 months in 1 year old barrels. It has a light yellow color and a lovely floral perfume tinged with vanilla and spice. There is nice floral tinged fruit showing hints of spice and the wine is balanced with a nice hint of citrus on the finish – Highly Recommended.
2007 Chateau Sainte Roseline La Chapelle de Sainte Roseline Rouge Cru Classé Côtes de Provence.
The first vintage for this wine was 2004. It is made with Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah aged for 18 months in new oak. The wine is dark in color with a deep plummy perfume with a chocolate tinge. It has lots of blackberry and plum fruit tinged with spice and a faint hint of cedar. The wine is rich, rounded and flavorful with balanced tannins that should soften with several years additional bottle age – Highly Recommended Plus.
Located in the middle of Provence, Chateau Roubine is one of the oldest wine estates in France. With a history dating back some 2600 years, it was owned by the Templars Order until the 13th century when it came under the ownership of the Saint James of Jerusalem Order. It was acquired by the Allaman family after the French revolution and then sold in 1855. In 1923 Henri de Rohan Chabot inherited Chateau Roubine and rented it to the Ott family. In 1994 it was acquired by Valérie Rousselle-Riboud and her husband, French fencing champion, Philippe Riboud. .
Thirteen different varieties of grapes are grown at Chateau Roubine. Chateau Roubine today encompasses some 320 acres with 178 acres of vineyards surrounded by forests. An ancient Roman way called “Julienne” runs through the middle of the property. There is also a tasting room, winery, chateau, and guest quarters. Everything here is immaculate. This is a beautiful place to visit. (To visit the website click here )
Under the direction of the energetic and vivacious Valérie Rousselle, who was President of the “Cru Classés” from 2005 to 2008, Chateau Roubine is making impressive wines. There are three different types of rosé, white, and red wines made at Chateau Roubine. Each type is in a different bottle with a different name and label and made from different blends of grapes. They are as follows:
- Classique – Chateau Roubine vintage wines combining modern winemaking with local tradition to make classic Provencal wine.
- Prestige – The bottles are embossed with the “Amalfitaine” cross, the symbol of the Templars, who were the ancient owners. These “Terre de Croix” vintage bottlings are made from a unique blend of grapes.
- Inspire – These are the Tête de Cuvée vintage bottlings made only from the finest selection of grapes.
2010 Chateau Roubine Rosé Cru Classé Côtes de Provence.
This wine is made from a blend of 7 different grapes – Mouvèdre, Syrah, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rolle, Tibouren, and Cinsault. It is gorgeous. With a very pale amber color showing a faint golden hue, the wine has a lovely floral spice perfume with a faint citrus undertone. It is very supple and elegant with a nice underlying crispness. The flavors are subtle and delicate with faint floral hints and a suggestion of citrus and spice – Outstanding.
2010 Chateau Roubine Terre de Crois Rosé Cru Classé Côtes de Provence.
This wine is comprised of 90% Mouvèdre and 10% Syrah. It is a delicious wine with lovely fruit, depth, and balance. Pale orange in color with a golden hue and a golden edge, this rosé has a gorgeous floral perfume with hints of strawberry and a kiss of spice. It is flavorful, lush, and rounded with strawberry citrus tinged fruit and a lovely crisp finish – Outstanding.
2010 Chateau Roubine Inspire Rosé Cru Classé Côtes de Provence.
Made from Tibouren grapes with just a bit of Clairette  and Rolle, this is a rosé of great depth, complexity, and finesse. It is very pale golden orange in color with a golden edge and has a stunning floral citrus spice tinged perfume. Floral with a faint exotic peach note the wine has an underlying suggestion of citrus and spice and is elegant with a long crisp finish – Outstanding Plus.
2010 Chateau Roubine Blanc Cru Classé Côtes de Provence.
Made from Semillion, Ugni Blanc, Rolle, and Clairette, this is a lovely finesseful white wine with a lot of charm. It is pale yellow in color and has a gorgeous floral perfume with hints of pear and citrus. It is elegant and fruity with tinges of citrus and mineral and a faintly honeyed quality – Outstanding.
2010 Chateau Roubine Inspire Cru Classé Côtes de Provence.
This wine is made from Rolle and Semillon grapes grown on vines over 30 years old. It has a light yellow color and a complex floral perfume with tinges of spice and honey. There is wonderful marriage of complex flavors showing melon and citrus with a faintly honeyed mineral nuance and the finish is long and crisp – Outstanding Plus.
2008 Chateau Roubine Terre de Crois Cru Classé Côtes de Provence.
This is a gorgeous wine made entirely from Semillon grapes grown on old vines over 40 years old. The wine is aged in oak and not sold until 2 years after bottling. This 2008 is the current release. The great appeal of this wine is that it is not heavy, oily, or oaky as Semillon can sometimes be. In fact, it is just the opposite. The wine is elegant and balanced with complex flavors that blend perfectly. The floral perfume is backed by a kiss of spice and while the wine is creamy and lush it is also fresh and crisp with hints of pineapple and citrus and a faint spiciness and a subtle mineral component. This is special – Outstanding Plus.