Le vin au féminin Domaine Gavoty The beautiful building welcoming us reflects the long history of this area. A very long history indeed, according to the Roman military boundary stone which is displayed at the entrance of the cellar. It had been placed there nearly two millennia ago, to praise the work undertaken by Nero to renovate the Via Aurelia. But it was under the reign of a very different emperor that these Provençal land actually took off. In 1806, when Napoleon was already dominating much of Europe, Gavoty Philemon and his family bought the property. “They were tanners and bakers from Barjols,” tells Roselyne Gavoty. “In their time, the domain was part of the commune of Camp Dumy, which means: ‘harvest field’”. Eight generations of Gavoty have succeeded as head of the domain, (which has been bearing their name only since the 1980s). However, it wasn’t until the last two generations, with first Pierre and then his daughter Roselyne, that the vineyard took its full dimension. “My father is one of those pioneers who introduced the Rolle in the Var vineyards. The first graft came from Nice, from the vineyards of Château de Bellet. Then, local nurseries started to sell it with the success that we know.” The first vintages of white came out of the tanks in 1983. Since then, with the Cuvée Clarendon, they contribute greatly to the excellent reputation of Domaine Gavoty. “Because they age well,” says Roselyne. “This is the strength of Rolle, it evolves greatly for fifteen years, revealing lovely aromas of honey at first, then of quince later on.” There is another colour that, for years, has been the customers’ delight: rosé. This time, it’s to Roselyne’s credit. She too was a pioneer when she took over the winemaking operation in the mid ‘80s; she went ahead to do more than rosé— good rosé. Along with Régine Sumeire, the soul of Barbeyrolles, and Françoise Rigord, the former owner of Peyrassol, she’s part of these winemakers who released the Provençal wines from the lot of thirst-quenchers. “I put my faith in the service of both this profession and that colour, which to me is inseparable from our Provençal culture. If it proved to be a success, the beginnings were not easy. “For many years, I was glad when I granted myself a minimum wage at the end of the month. But I've always believed in it, because rosé is a real wine, pleasant as an aperitif and subtle on a meal; you just need to know how to pair it, then it allows for wonderful combinations that wouldn’t work with the other two colours (reds and whites).” 6.215,43.406388888889,0 Château de Saint Martin Pay attention to the small wooden shed painted a pretty green colour, which stands a few dozen metres before the beautiful and monumental vault cellar of Château de Saint-Martin. It doesn’t accommodate many people anymore. However, a century ago the place was very well attended. People would come there to drink tea while watching the passage of the first locomotives ever known in the area. The show rejoiced so much the master of the house that he had urged the famous company Paris-Lyon-Méditerranée for the railway to run through the heart of his land. The story speaks volumes about the spirit of this house. Saint-Martin is the successful marriage of tradition and modernity. The first was forged in two millennia. Some remains indeed attest that the Romans cultivated the land from the second century AD. The Cistercian monks of the Abbey of Lérins developed there a large vineyard from the tenth century. They left in the eighteenth century, giving the area in 1740 to one of the great Provence families, who built a castle on the land. The latest generations still live there. The estate is transmitted, but the values have changed. The ladies don’t banter while watching trains; they work. The Countess of Gasquet, the owner, welcomes guests in her castle where she converted five charming guest rooms. Her daughter Adeline Barry watches over the domain. Since 1993, she spends much energy to maintain the property, labelled "Cru Classé" since 1955, among the great names of the wine Provence. She is thus present on all fronts, from the vineyard to the cellar, through marketing. Her trademark is audacity. In recent years, the Lady has completely revised the Château’s range. Claiming her winemaker status, she dared feminine wines like ‘Bulle de rosé’, an effervescent wine with fine and persistent bubbles, or the ‘Eternelle Favorite’ rosé, with a sensual nose marked by fruits. Her finest creation must be ‘Les Cuvées Vieilles Vignes Comtesse de Saint-Martin’. “I wanted to show that in Provence, we know how to make gastronomic wines. The red admit sweet spices and fine tannins. The rosé is sensual. The white is silky and sophisticated.” As a way to further shake up prejudices, she uses for her labels female portraits of the Romantic era. “To evoke the finesse and elegance. And to claim the matriarchal tradition for this property, which has always had a woman at its head for the last two centuries.” This lineage has had only one exception: the Count de Rohan-Chabot, her grandfather. He was an admirable man, one of the pioneers who initiated Provence on the path to quality. A wine - probably the best of Château Saint-Martin - pays him tribute today. It is a red aged for 24 months in barrel, with a complex nose of black fruits, leather, gingerbread and cloves. It’s a truly great wine from Provence! The count would be proud of his granddaughter. 6.4338888888889,43.444166666667,0 Château Roubine The site is magnificent with pine and oak trees as far as you can see and the sun setting behind the nearby mountains. It’s also a magical story, that of a farm born in the fourteenth century by the will of its owner, the Templar Order. It is now in full revival since 1994 in the expert hands of Valérie Rousselle. Valérie admits with a smile that when she landed in Lorgues, near Draguignan, to take over the so-called Castel Rubin, one of the oldest vineyards in Provence, she knew little or nothing about vine and wine. Until then, her job was in the hotel industry! Thus, this former executive of Groupe Lucien Barrière was taking considerable risk by leaving the palaces of Deauville for the countryside of Draguignan; especially since her estate had lost the lustre that it had known in 1953 when it was awarded with the Crus Classés de Provence title. It is clear today that she has met with that incredible challenge: in a few years, she has awoken this sleeping beauty to make it again one of the major benchmarks of Côtes de Provence. To achieve this great result, the St. Tropez of origin has multiplied innovations. For starters, she has changed the domain name from Castel Roubine to Château Roubine; and then she created new vintages. The house offers four different vintages created from thirteen grape varieties spread over 100 hectares of vineyards. There are three AOC Côtes de Provence: Château Roubine, Terre de Croix (as an homage to the Templars, former owners of the domain) and, above all, the “tête de cuvee” Inspire that multiplies praise and rewards since its release in 2007, in either red (dominated by Syrah), white (nice blend of Semillon and Rolle) and rosé (ripe Tibouren). Finally, the vineyard is leading her property on the path of sustainable development: since March 2008, Château Roubine is certified in Sustainable Agriculture. 6.4072222222222,43.494980555556,0 Mas de la Dame One can easily understand why Vincent Van Gogh had wanted to immortalize the old farmhouse. Facing the house eastern façade, he embraced a landscape of vineyards and olive groves, bathed in light and dominated by the fantastic castle of the Counts of Baux. Today, the road offers the same view to the visitor who takes the time to park his vehicle on the side. Admittedly, the vegetation has changed. Other buildings have been added to the original farmhouse. But the magic of the place still remains. “The domain has been in my family for four generations,” says Caroline Missoffe, owner of the Mas de la Dame with her sister, Anne Poniatowski. “Every day when I open the shutters of my house, located a little further up the domain, I bless my great-grandfather to have acquired this property! I never get tired of the changing colours and unspoiled beauty of this unique environment.” Family history retains indeed that Auguste Faye, a wine merchant in Macon, bought Mas de la Dame in 1903 on a stroke of heart, on the road that brought him back from a trip to Cannes. His son Robert turned it into the first winery of the Baux-de-Provence region, by constructing all the buildings necessary for the work of vinification and aging. In the midst of 57 acres of vineyards and 28 hectares of olive groves, Mas de la Dame works its land organically — it’s certified organic since 2003. Some vines are very old, and the owners ensure plant renewing after a five-year fallow period, so as to let the land recover. Vine thrives here; draining soils are very favourable, and the alliance of scrubland and the Mistral winds ensure good health and a perfect exchange of flavours. For years, the bottles of Mas de la Dame have been on the best tables of the region, immediately recognizable with their bulbous shape borrowed from Calvados. Simone de Beauvoir enjoyed one of them at La Reine Jeanne, a restaurant in Les Baux-de-Provence: “We dined at a small table near the fireplace, drinking a wine that name I still remember: Mas de la Dame.” If your steps take you to Mas de la Dame’s entrance, lined with cypresses, don’t miss your chance to succumb to the charm of one of the most beautiful places in Provence. 4.8230555555556,43.739166666667,0 Domaine de Saint Ser What you first see is the Mountain, huge, white as a final frontier. It’s impossible to escape the mass of limestone that the Domaine de Saint-Ser rests against. The recently redesigned driveway lined with young cypresses offers a view of a breathtaking beauty, and immediately turns the property of Jacqueline Guichot into an unalterable memory of a majestic Provence. On either side of the path, a garden of vines and olive trees reflects the interest of the owner for scents and flavours: “There is also a former botanical trail from the domain to the restaurant Relais de Saint-Ser, a few hundred metres away,” says the hostess who is trying to restore it. Another curiosity of the domain is its taste for contemporary art, the owner’s other passion. Every year she invites several young artists for residence, whose works are found on the estate: a cottage in ruins with its interior walls painted in pink and a totem barrels between two terraces. All these creations reflect the will of renewal of a rising property: “Ever since I bough the estate in 2005, I’ve transformed it a lot and even reshaped its immediate environment; as this access from the road, which didn’t exist.” This transformation primarily benefits the vineyard, which has the rare privilege to be classified in its entirety in the geographical area of the Côtes de Provence Sainte-Victoire appellation; the 33 hectares of vines are grown on slopes, at an altitude of 400 metres. The place has amazing sunshine thanks to the phenomenon of sunlight reflection on the white stone of the mountain. In addition, the configuration of the Sainte-Victoire shields from summer storms, which slide on the north side. The Mistral winds bypass the mountain and dry the vines after the rain, clean up the vineyard and contribute to the grape maturity. Thus, Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and other Rolle, with an average age of 25 years, thrive in this place. This shows, as they indeed offer lovely wines in all three colours, especially as Jacqueline Guichot has the means to work well and has turned her cellar into one of the most modern in the region, with temperature-controlled stainless steel vats and a wood-barrel aging cellar. The results are a bright rosé with a surprising length, a remarkable white, rich, with a taste of vanilla in the finish, and a fruity red, with a highly structured presence on the palate. 5.6497222222222,43.525833333333,0 Domaine de Gavaisson Peu après le village de Lorgues, en empruntant la direction de Saint-Antonin, on traverse une nature généreuse et verdoyante cernée de chênes centenaires, de pins et d’oliviers. A un moment un petit chemin s’enfonce un peu plus dans la forêt avant de déboucher sur un magnifique parc avec des points d’eau et des sources parsemés ça et là. Pour atteindre la bastide du charme du domaine de Gavaisson, on emprunte une allée bordée de jasmins, de roses, de glycines et d’iris. Le ton ou plutôt la couleur est donnée. Ici, on voit la vie en blanc ! Depuis 1992, Gerda Than, la propriétaire des lieux, d’origine autrichienne, s’attache à préserver l’authenticité de cet écrin de beauté isolé entre vignes et champs d’oliviers, qui respire la sérénité. Ici, des moutons noirs en liberté, là un âne qui paisse tranquillement. Le lieu semble sorti tout droit d’un tableau. Dès son arrivée, Cette amatrice de crus immaculés décide de consacrer ses 4 hectares de vignes à la production d’une cuvée unique : ce sera du blanc. Oui, bien sûr, elle avait pensé, fût un temps, à planter quelques cépages pour élaborer du rosé, comme l’ensemble des domaines de Provence. Mais à quoi bon ! Gerda Than préfère miser sur sa force : son atypisme. Elle arrache les vignes abandonnées et les remplace par du rolle et du sémillon, deux cépages à forte identité particulièrement adaptés au terroir argilo-calcaire. Planté en terrasses qui descendent vers le sud, le vignoble bénéficie d’un bel ensoleillement et d’un climat à fortes variations thermiques qui apporte de la saveur et des arômes aux baies. Soucieuse de préserver la biosphère si particulière qui caractérise le domaine, Gerda Than opte pour une culture respectueuse des sols, orientée vers la biodynamie et depuis peu en conversion vers l’agriculture biologique. Seuls le soufre et la bouillie bordelaise sont tolérés pour les traitements, le labour à la charrue est préféré aux travaux mécaniques. La vendange est manuelle, soigneusement sélectionnée pour ne garder que les plus beaux fruits, qui sont ensuite conduits dans la nouvelle cave ultra moderne du domaine. D’année en année, l’unique production de Gavaisson voit son profil s’affiner et son potentiel d’évolution s’affirmer, d’autant que les vignes n’ont que dix ans ! Elevée sur lies, elle se démarque clairement des autres blancs secs de Provence par son gras et son onctuosité.  6.3213888888889,43.494444444444,0 Les Caves du Commandeur Montfort-sur-Argens is not known to be a turbulent municipality. On the contrary, this village of the Var Centre runs a peaceful life under the watchful eye of its 12th century Templar castle. Yet, until the ‘50s it was the scene of a frank rivalry, that of the Montfortaise and the Vigneronne, two wine cooperatives with opposite political leanings. The first voted left when the second swore the right. The feud lasted thirty good years until the economic reality swept away this partisan divide. In the France of the post-war where everything had to be rebuilt, they decreed the sacred union and two cellars merged under one roof: Les Caves du Commandeur. But odd alliances can sometimes make for excellent results and it must be admitted here that at sixty years old or close, "Le Commandeur" looks great. Joined in 1998 by their neighbours from Salernes, the winemakers conducted their boat beautifully to combine today over 500 hectares spread over nine different municipalities. Most of this land is located in the Golden Triangle, an area between carcasses, Correns and Cotignac. Why we say gold? Because it is bathed in a microclimate, and average temperatures are thus higher than in the rest of the Var. This does not prevent the thermometer to fall once the sun goes down, relieving the vines with an overflow of heat. In short, these are ideal conditions for fine wines from Provence. This godsend has not always been exploited to its fair value. Indeed, as many cooperatives in the region, the Caves du Commandeur have long favoured quantity over quality. Until 2002 when, under the leadership of the next generation, a modern wind blew through the winery. “We had already attacked the renewal of the vineyard,” says Jean-Marie Holder, the President. “So it was logical that we gave ourselves the means to convert in the cellar the qualitative leap made in the vineyards.” They invested in stainless tanks, pressing and a cooling unit. Then, a year later, they bet on a young oenologist from the Southwest: Valerie Courreges. She wasn’t even thirty years old when she settled in the Var, but she was steeped in quality; as proof, Lafite Rothschild spotted her right out of college. She quickly fulfilled the co-operators’ expectations. From organizing harvest to marketing, she is on all fronts. But it's in the cellar at the time of winemaking that she gives the full measure of her talent. Her red - the cuvee Dédicace, which she created in 2003 - attracted a wider audience. “It is essentially Syrah. It is a powerful wine, structured, with lots of complexity.” But it was her rosé, a colour that she discovered upon arriving in Provence, which earned her first stunt, a medal at the Concours Général Agricole de Paris in 2007, the first of the Commandeur. Since then, the awards haven’t stopped falling.  6.1181077777778,43.47139,0 Domaine de Mauvan At the bottom of the town of Puyloubier, in the plain that begins in the foothills of the Montagne Sainte-Victoire, the Domaine de Mauvan seems to have been here forever. Access is by the Highway 7, via a path lined with vines. In a small valley sheltered from the east wind, you’ll find the cellar, adjoining the old stately home. There isn’t any gleaming wine shop or tasting room; Gaëlle Maclou, the young operator, welcomes you here with simplicity: “When I took over the domain in 1994, I continued the work of my father and my grandfather before him. In fact, this property has been in my family since 1948. My great-grandfather had acquired it for hunting when he retired. This is my grandfather who planted most of the vines.” On the front terrace, a large plane tree provides welcome shade in the summer: “The house was built in the 16th century,” says Gaëlle Maclou. “One or two trees were usually planted in front. Therefore, this tree might well be about five hundred years old.” It is not very high, but its trunk is huge. It almost hides the beautiful view of the plain, towards Trets and the Aurélien Mountains. A statue of the Madonna stand bellow, “The former owners installed it. It is said that it was to thank Marie for allowing their young son to come back alive from the First World War. There is another statue of the Virgin Mary on top of a hill on the left of the house, much older and which origin is unknown.” The vineyard that surrounds the house extends over 25 hectares. But vine is not the domain’s sole activity. Gaëlle Maclou and her husband also work 50 hectares of agricultural land planted with wheat, rapeseed and sunflower. They have a great advantage as the property is in one piece, thus facilitating the exploitation. The cellar is equipped with stainless steel and concrete tanks, and can produce rosé, red and white. “We don’t use wood,” warns Gaëlle Maclou. “We want to let the terroir express itself so that amateurs can appreciate its typicality. " 5.6658333333333,43.49,0