The Lou Messugo Blog - life in the south of France from a British/Australian TCK's perspective, bringing you French culture, travel on the Côte d'Azur and beyond, expat issues and a little bit of je ne sais quoi all mixed up with a hefty dose of photography.
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.
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.
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.
I love French wine and will definitely be checking some of these out on my next visit to the local wine store!:-)
A great resource piece for any Wine Lovers going to France. The photos are great as well. The red bottles with vines; and the first and last vines. Beautiful.
I absolutely loved our short trip through France a few years ago and I long to go back. So thank you for this post and the showing us the delights of this part of France.
Happy travels. I am joining you today through Travel Photo Thursday.
I'm pleased you enjoyed your virtual tour through the local wineries Jill, thanks for stopping by.
The wine is one of my favourite things about the South of France - I didn't know they actually made one in Nice, though! I'll have to look out for that next time. Great post!
The Nice wine is very unknown; even many locals don't know about it which is why Chrissie's so good to know!
This was a very interesting post, i don't drink wine so no nothing about it and always hate being asked about it at work. Stopping by from LAB club x
Thanks for commenting Kerry, I'm glad you enjoyed your little tour.
I'm so tempted to take a trip to the South of France now...I could visit my ex husband who lives in St Tropez, or maybe I should settle for a nice bottle of french rose?
Hey Anne, if you're friends with your ex then that's a great place to be able to visit him! Did you see the post I wrote on St Trop just last week?
I must admit that I am not a fan of red wine or even Rose and for white wine I tend to go for New Zealand Sauv Blanc! That said, this has definitely got me thinking about being a little more bold and trying something new; it has been a while since I tried a French wine!
What you need is to try French wine on location! Come fo r a holiday in the south of France and I assure you you'll be converted to the local rosé (it's nothing like most of the rosés you get in UK supermarkets);
I love Rose wine I would absolutely love to visit a vineyard and taste all the different varieties what woman wouldn't! Unfortunately I'll have to wait until not pregnant to do something so exciting!
Congratulations on your pregnancy! We are very baby/child friendly at Lou Messugo Carly, so why not think about a holiday here next year for some of that wine tasting when you're baby is born.
An interesting post. I know nothing about wine, I tend to buy blossom hill or whatever is on offer in tesco, but wish I did know more!
I'm similar to you Rachel, buying safe bets from the supermarket, which is why I asked expert Chrissie to write this guest post for me!
Seems strange to be putting wine out in the sunshine.
Looks divine though.
I agree Emma, it goes against most other places that age their wine in dark cellars, but they obviously know what they're doing.
A lovely post, to take me back to a place I will always call home. St Jeannet is so beautiful - I worked there for a while and it was always such a lovely drive through the village. I'm a big fan of the wines from the monks at Ile de Lérins too.
Thanks for bringing up the St Honorat monks Sophie. I don't know much about their wine but the island is a lovely place to visit. Perhaps Chrissie knows more? How lovely that you used to work in St Jeannet.
I realised once this post was published that I should have included the Monk Wine!!! It's top of my places to visit for a new blog post, in the meantime, as Sophie says, they make great red & white wines in what must be one of the most spectacular locations for a vineyard in the world!
That left me wanting more...the sights, the light...my goodness, the light is a photographer's dream! I would love one of those round bottom bottles. Frankly, I want the whole experience. That was one inspiring post... will definitely keep it in mind when we think of getting away again. So glad I've discovered your little space on the net! #lab
What a lovely comment Kanchan, you're absolutely right the light here is wonderful and has inspired artists for generations.
Those bonbonnieres are new to me. So very eye catching.
Why wait for summer? I want to jump on a plane right now!
You've got a really cool job, Chrissie. Thanks for linking up.
It looks like Chrissie's post is having the effect I wanted! Come on over Marcia!
Wonderful post, that's a first that I've heard of bonbonhiere, I've never seen wine age like that, Is that for a certain varietal I wonder?
Hi Noel, thanks for your comment! The bonbonnieres are not used for any specific varieties (here they grow a mix of local varieties like Rolle (Vermentino) and international varities like Cab Sav and Syrah), instead it's an old-Saint Jeannet tradition. Depending on the amount of sunshine, the wines are left in the bonbonnieres to both naturally stabilise the wine and to add certain oxidative hints (like in Madeira). They are the only vineyard in Provence to do so!
What a very enticing booze-cruise.
Now you know where to go when next in this area RT!
I did not know about those bonbonnieres - they look wonderful in the sunlight. Now I really fancy a glass of chilled rosé
Seriously tempting (and photogenic) aren't they Rosie?
Avec les jours qui rallongent, ce blog donne envie d'explorer pour ramener de quoi étancher la soif bravo Chrissie.
c'est vrai Ramon! Bravo à Chrissie!
I'm hooked! I want to be there next week checking out the grapes, and a glass or two of what's on offer.
What a great reaction; that's just what we want to hear Nancie!!