La Vie en Rosé The Provence Rosé Group: The World’s Best Rosé Wines from Four Unique Estates in Provence
Fred Bollaci and Venu Magazine were honored to visit Provence, France in September to be part of the Provence Rosé Group’s 2019 Advisory Council, where top wine writers, wine buyers, sommeliers, restaurateurs, influencers, and media outlets had the privilege of visiting this remarkably beautiful region and learning first-hand how the Provence Rosé Group has created a portfolio of fabulous wines, utilizing certified sustainable and organic practices, the first rosé producer in Provence to achieve this remarkable milestone, resulting in luscious, food-friendly wines that are cause for year-round celebration! Rosé wines have taken the world and especially the U.S. market by storm in the past decade, as the signature wine of Provence—rosé is here to stay! The popularity of social media and hashtags like #Roséallday have garnered hundreds of thousands of Instagram posts to date, showing fashionable people sipping these luscious wines in the most beautiful places. If you want to experience the very best in Rosé, there is only one place to go: Provence, and only one producer that delivers an unparalleled experience and product: The Provence Rosé Group. The wines represent a lifestyle and joie de vivre that is purely Provence. While rosé-type wines are produced all over the world, Provence is the only region in the world that specializes in Rosé production, and is the benchmark. In fact, rosé production dates all the way back to Roman times. The sunny Mediterranean climate boasts some 3,000 hours per year of sunshine, and the region’s unique terroir is naturally conducive to this style of wine, which is further enhanced by applying modern practices to this proud tradition. The Provence Rosé group’s four vineyards produce a staggering five million bottles per year under 17 different brands, all while maintaining the highest standards of quality and consistency. In fact, The Provence Rosé Group is the only rosé producer that does not purchase fruit from anywhere else—all fruit is grown and harvested on land they own, under the auspices of veteran winemaker Alexis Cornu. A substantial investment of time, money, and labor has gone into transforming all four estates, and to producing the best rosé wines in the world! The wines come in unmistakably beautiful and unique bottles, and are priced competitively with other Rosé wines from Provence. As a sommelier, and a health-conscious consumer, when given the option to purchase a product that is the same or better in flavor and quality than a competing product, for roughly the same price, and the product in question happens to also be sustainable and organic, the choice is simple! These wines combine authenticity, ancestral traditions, savoir faire (know how), and art de vivre, the art of living with the group’s mission of creating and promoting a higher standard of excellence in rosé wines than ever before. Enjoy at home or come experience delicious wines and wonderful hospitality at four unique estates, with state of the art tasting rooms where guests can become acquainted with the incredible beauty and lifestyle of Provence and the French Riviera.
Alexis Cornu recognizes the biggest challenge is in growing the best fruit. Like in cooking, your finished product can only be as good as the raw ingredients going into the dish. Alexis oversees the entire process from tending the vines to supervising the team of 50+ workers. As the grapes ripen in late summer, Alexis “observes, tastes, controls, and analyzes…sugar levels, acidity, and pH…The results are compared with those of previous years, to figure out which plots should be harvested first. He checks the vats, presses, and mechanical equipment, cleaning, and greasing in preparation for the harvest. Some staff will harvest certain lots of grapes by day, others by night for the rosé, by hand, and by machine. “The winemaker’s worst enemy is habit.” Everyone is poised and awaiting the green light from Alexis. “Harvest time is a bonding experience for everyone involved…After so much effort, Alexis is eager to witness the initial developments of the vintage, as it gradually takes shape after only a few weeks.” Château de Berne, the Luxurious Flagship Resort of the Provence Rosé Group, a Five-Star, Relais & Châteaux Property This magical property, the jewel in the crown of The Provence Rosé Group, tucked away in Provence’s hinterland near the village of Lorgues, is situated several hundred meters above sea level, and comprises 1,300 acres of pine forests, rolling hills, olive groves, a working farm, streams, and 350 acres of planted vines. In 200 BC, Château de Berne was established. The area was inhabited by the Ancient Greeks, then the Romans. In the 11th century, the Cistercian Order of monks took up residence here when Raymond V, the Count of Toulouse donated the estate to Saint Bernard. The monks set about nurturing the rich soil.
In 2007, Mark Dixon, a British businessman and fervent lover of Provence bought Château de Berne, keen to hoist its wines to the heights of excellence and develop an original wine tourism concept. Today, the hotel is the epitome of five-star luxury with world class service and amenities. The property features 27 luxurious rooms and villas and a state of the art spa with indoor pool, a sauna, steam room, solarium and relaxation area with herbal tea room. There are also two outdoor pools, meeting space for up to 150 guests, a boutique, and wine shop. Berne is a gastronomic treat for the senses! Michelin-Star Le Jardin de Benjamin, showcases the finest example of local, seasonal cuisine brings the best of Provence to your table, with fresh local produce, fish, meat, and fowl from the region and the kitchen garden, overseen by Chef Benjamin Collombat. Le Bistrot serves local cuisine in a more casual atmosphere. Both restaurants offer the opportunity to dine outside. The ultimate experience is dining at the “Chef’s Table,” or attending the cookery school, L’Ecole de Cuisine. The signature wines of Château de Berne are gastronomic wines at the highest level of any rosé available. Consider pairing rosé with your Thanksgiving turkey and trimmings, as well as something pink, romantic, and lighter for Valentine’s Day, in addition to seafood, pasta, pizza, vegetables, or game.
A look at The Provence Rosé Group’s other estates: Ultimate Provence (UP), the closest to the coast of the four estates is close to the famed resort town of St. Tropez and adjoins the majestic Plaine des Maures, the largest nature reserve in the South of France. UP lays claim to a reinvented legacy with its historic vineyard and celebrated wine. UP is a contemporary resort, with a restaurant, bar, outdoor seating and recreational areas, and a pool surrounded by vineyards. UP is literally designed to make a statement: great wines, alive with character, a surprising contemporary destination for modern epicureans with Atmos Restaurant and Bar, with a stylish rooftop terrace.
Above: Chateau St. Roux. Below: Ultimate Provence (UP)
Château St. Roux was established in the 15th century with the help of an Italian nobleman, who was charmed by the fields of red soil, and named the place “roux,” and began cultivating the land and supplying nearby inhabitants with fresh produce. His name escaped history, but his benevolence to the local community inspired the nickname “Saint Roux.” The buildings of this historic farm had fallen into ruin, and have since been carefully rebuilt since being acquired by the Provence Rosé Group, with every single stone being returned to its rightful place in the structures on the property. St. Roux has rediscovered its former charm, and today employs an eco-friendly approach that governs their winemaking, cheese production from their own herd of goats, and restaurant, where dishes are prepared using vegetables from the expansive gardens. There are also a collection of holiday cottages and guestrooms. The vineyard covers some 100 acres producing grapes that are full of flavor which lead to full-bodied wines. Château des Bertrands is located in the commune of Cannet-des-Maures, at the heart of the Plaine des Maures nature reserve. This property offers exceptional wines thanks to an original geology and patient human effort. The vineyard stood the test of time, at the foot of the mountain, whose wines embody the typical characteristics of the unique terroir of this 200 acre plot. The grapes here “grow around the cellar,” with excellent rosé, as well as red and white wines.
Château de Berne (2017): A single vineyard wine from the estate’s high elevation parcel which faces south, 250-330 meters above sea level, the cooler nights of the Haut-Var lends a crisp, bright character with red currant, crisp acidity, and zesty fruit. Slightly salmon pink in color, very bright and iridescent. Fresh, clean nose, rather intense flavors with mixture of yellow-fleshed fruit and citrus zest, with a long, sweet floral finish. Pairs superbly well with food and a fun, year-round wine.
Château de Berne Estate (2018): The nose is complex with delicate aromas of cherry and raspberry and light unexpected notes of mint and herbs like anise. The taste is exquisitely dry, with similar aromatic complexity on the palate. Flavors of cranberry and raspberry accented by an elegant mineral finish from the limestone of the terroir, this is a truly elegant Provençal rosé.
Château de Berne Emotion (2018): Perfect for any occasion, with a floral, blood orange, and potpourri nose, this wine perfectly balances flavors of the orchard, with beautiful pear and fruit blossom, plus hints of fresh strawberry, raspberry and red fruits that lends to a zippy acidity, making it a summer essential, perfect for the beach, pool, or boat!
Château de Berne Inspiration (2017): is a textbook Provençal rosé that is the perfect wine for the “tried and true fan” or rosé wines from this region. It is beautifully textured and lends body and intensity to the color and nose. Dry in the finish with flavors of fresh strawberry, Provençal lavender, and picked basil. A perfect food wine, it has a bold, intense pink color, and is floral, clean with a nose of fresh berries first, followed by fresh herbs and flowers—like walking through a Provence lavender field on an early summer morning. Pairs well with classic roasted chicken with lemon and Herbs de Provence, Thanksgiving dinner, and grilled lobster.
Château des Bertrands (2017): is a blend of Grenache Noir and Cinsault. The vineyard is sheltered by the Maures mountain range, and enjoys a Mediterranean climate with hot summers, bright sunlight, and a prevailing east wind. The goal of Alexis and The Provence Rosé Group is to extract the essence from this most famous place, called the “Notre-Dame-des-Anges” terroir on the western border of the Esterel Massif. Night harvesting practices, destemming and partial maceration with gentle pressing to separate the grape juices are employed. This wine offers a complex bouquet of white fruit (peach and pear) with exotic notes. Pairs well with salmon gravlax, pasta with goat cheese and speck ham, and seafood salad.
Romance (2018): amazing aromatics that are very inviting. Dominant orchard fruits like peaches and strawberries, the beautiful floral nose is intense and jumps out of the glass!
Ultimat Provence (2018): an extra fresh, aromatic wine, whose beauty extends from the show-stopping bottle to your glass, with layers of raspberry, and strawberry jam in the nose, with a gorgeous, spicy palate. A fresh wine with great acidity for food pairing.
For more information on the Provence Rosé Group, please visit www.provencerose.com For more information on the four wine estates, please visit www.chateauberne.com, www.chateausaintroux.com, www.chateaudesbertrands.com, www.ultimateprovence.com
Many of the wines of The Provence Rosé Group are available for purchase in the United States in many retail outlets as well as online.