Route vidauban Domaine du Bois des Demoiselles Domaine du Bois des Demoiselles (from the locality’s name) belongs to the Lechien family since the ‘60s. The father Fernand fell in love with this remote corner of Draguignan, which was wilder back then than it is today. That says it all! Even if the property was first intended to be a second home, the master of the house was quickly hooked on an old local custom: viticulture. The Belgium planted two hectares of Grenache that he brought each harvest to the local cooperative. As eating gives you appetite, the man of Flatland was ready to see things on a bigger scale. In the late ‘80s, he set out to create a real vineyard and then introduced Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvedre and Rolle on his land. It would be a total of six hectares of crops that he would add to the original two. The problem was that the vineyard couldn’t be a mere hobby anymore, but needed now a real professional approach. Fernand thus turned his operation to a specialist via the current formula of rent. Time of retirement came for the first winemaker in 2007. A successor had to be found. After two seasons and two fail attempts, a couple applied: Benoît and Sophie Lopitaux. He was a winemaker with a first experience in the Luberon. She was an engineer in agronomy, specialist in the distribution of agricultural products. For some time now, they had thought of starting their own business and saw in this operating leased a great opportunity to realize their project. In early 2009, won by their enthusiasm and skills, Fernand and his children entrusted them with their field. In July 2009, a few months after their arrival, it was the cold shower! Or rather hail. It cost them two-thirds of their harvest. “I had experienced such mishap on my first operation,” says Benoît. “So this time, I had taken precautions: I was ensured.” “And then,’ adds Sophie, “the owners were great: they did enough to help us through this difficult period.” The following year was no different! June 15, torrential water fell from the sky. Draguignan was flooded and Le Bois des Demoiselles was also hit, but "because of their reliefs that make our soils especially draining, our soils have resisted better than others in this deluge. » You know what they say, what does not kill you makes you stronger. It is therefore with greater determination than ever that the couple continued the adventure. And they’ve already seen themselves rewarded for their efforts. Vines are now conducted in organic farming (the area is under conversion to organic), and they’re thriving. It shows in their wines, full of simplicity and delicacy in the three colours, which are becoming increasingly popular. Better: Cuvée des Amis Blancs won a silver medal at the Concours Général Agricole in Paris in 2010 while the Cuvée des Selves Rouge 2009 got the bronze medal the following year. If Domaine Bois des Demoiselles had already experienced such reward, these two medals are a first for Benoît and Sophie. We can safely bet that they won’t be the last! 6.4586111111111,43.511111111111,0 Château Saint Julien d'Aille Punctuated by pines that cascade down to the Aille river, a tributary of the Argens, the pretty little road that separates Vidauban from La Garde Freinet and travels through the Maures forest, leads to a large salmon portal. Curious, we cross it and it then follow a small road lined with scrubland, olive groves and vineyards that let the visitor in front of the large country house of Château Saint Julien d'Aille and its artificial lake. Located in the foothills of the Massif des Maures, the property of 172 hectares is a former Roman ‘agricola’, as testified by many vestiges (aqueducts, ruins etc.). After the Romans, the Cistercian from the Abbey of Saint Victor and Thoronet invested these lands. They grew fruits and vegetables but also vines to make the famous sacramental wine. In 1014, a chapel was built in honour of Saint Julien. The area lived happily under the protection of the Roman centurion martyred in 304 AD, the subject of an immense fervour throughout the South. Until the Revolution, when the Cistercians were driven off their land. The domain would be long dormant before being donated to the Institute Pasteur, before being finally bought in 1999 by Bernard and Marie-Louise Fleury. On the eve of their retirement, the couple dreamed of making wine. This dream goes back to the childhood of Monsieur: his two grandfathers were winegrowers, one on the hills of Bellet in Nice, and the other one in the Bourbonnay. The Fleury family spent the first three years on reviving the vineyard. “A real work of Romans!” Recalls Bernard Fleury. “We had to rebuild everything, even the country house and the cellar which were dilapidated. Of the eighty hectares of vineyards, we planted forty hectares of noble varieties!” Vines are rooted in calcareous clay soils filled with quartz pebbles and lined with pine trees, cork oaks, thyme, cistus and juniper trees; they enjoy a windy land, bathed in sunlight. Conducted in sustainable farming, harvested by hand, the vineyard gives fruity and aromatic wines, available in three ranges, all bearing Saint-Julien’s helmet: Praetor, Imperator and Triumvirate. 6.4288888888889,43.379166666667,0 La Vidaubanaise What a frisky centenary this is! Founded in 1912 by 22 pioneers, the Vidaubanaise still holds its rank with 160 co-operators exploiting no less than 600 hectares of vines. This great vineyard has long exceeded the limits of Vidauban to spread over the surrounding communities and even the more distant ones: La Garde Freinet, Taradeau, Lorgues, Le Thoronet, Le Cannet des Maures, Le Plan de la Tour, Sainte-Maxime and Les Mayons. Hiring vine and wine experts who came to help out the co-operators has controlled this growth. Thus, for some years now, one of them turns daily on the properties, providing advice and methods. “Our grape quality and therefore that of our wines are seen to have improved greatly,” are we told at La Vidaubanaise. Careful attention is also given to equipment. Since the ‘90s, when the winery opened up to modern winemaking techniques, the house wines have made a great leap forward. So, the Var cooperative revised its ambitions on the rise and, in the 2000s, based on a study of INAO, has embarked on the making of terroir wines with ‘Jas de la Barre’ and ‘La Bastide du Curée’. Ever since, these two wines that take their names from the area where they were born testify with gourmandise and finesse of the expertise of their producers. Moreover, juries of major wine competitions, from Paris to Mâcon through Brignoles, routinely attribute their beautiful medals to either one of these wines. 6.4325772222222,43.431515555556,0 Domaine des rouges Looking at the first parcels of vines, one would think that the domain of Evelyne and Patrice Lemée gets its name from the land colour. This is somewhat true but not completely! There is indeed the symbol beyond appearances. “In our view, red is above all the colour of passion, a vibrant colour, full of energy,” says Evelyne. And it did take energy and passion for the couple to realize its dream, which was to own its land and produce its wines. “Not to mention that after, you have to sell 35,000 bottles.” It would have been probably easier if the two of them had taken a family farm run by generations of winemakers, or amassed a personal fortune in another life, another trade: computers, internet, industry or real estate ... But no! Evelyne and Patrice paid every cent for their eight hectares, in 2005. As for their track record, it is not those who meet the economy pages of major newspapers. Evelyne is a liberal nurse, an activity that she still exercises along with her peasant life. Her husband is a Brittany native, and he has never known anything else than the wines of Provence. He had watched over the cellars of Château Rasque for years before they took over the vineyards and the cellar of Domaine de Jale, in Vidauban. But you know what conventional wisdom says, “To a valiant heart, nothing is impossible.” Although Nature, capricious and changeable, still maintains its minions in uncertainty, the Lemées won their bet. They are winemakers and a credit to the profession. Since 2008 and their first vintage, and enjoying an easy to work silty and loam soil, they draw reds and rosés full of finesse from their Cinsault, Syrah, Carignan, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon. These wines can be discovered every Sunday morning at the Vidauban market – “We’re regular there” - or in their small property. “We don’t have a wine shop, so we receive visitors at home. In the wintertime, or on rainy days, we taste in the living room by the fireplace. In summer, we sit on the ‘harvest table’, where we all gather after a day picking grapes.” In the shade of a mulberry-plane tree, with some fresh fruits or charcuterie, and a glass of wine: it is a rare moment of simplicity, conviviality and sharing.  6.4222222222222,43.404444444444,0 Château Mouresse Since arriving in 2008 at the head of Château Mouresse, the owner has not been idle. Quite the opposite, for it, took him only two years to publicize this domain with a long winemaking tradition, set amongst pine trees and facing the Massif des Maures. Initially yet, the game was not won. “When we arrived, we faced many challenges,” says Christophe Bouvet. “The estate was abandoned, the wines produced were of poor quality, and significant investments were still needed. So we had to act fast!” But far from being discouraged, the industrial native from Anjou quickly put back this dying operation on the right tracks. He started by equipping the cellar with the essential winemaking tools (tanks, pneumatic press etc.). Then he replaced the old varieties with Cinsault and Grenache, and opts for sustainable farming, without chemicals or pesticides and with organic amendments and controlled yields (an average of 50 hectolitres per hectare). The young winemaker then started looking for new plots to bring his vineyard to 25 hectares. On the commercial side, Christophe Bouvier immediately set up a partnership with retailers to find safe outlets for its wines. “You have to debunk all the ideas that circulate about supermarkets! This is not because I have chosen this distribution network that I will produce poor quality wines!” For proof, his rosé "Classic" won the gold medal in Paris in 2009 and 2010. 6.395968,43.395071,0 Domaine des Nibas The pretty little road that separates Vidauban from La Garde Freinet, and travels through the Maures forest, leads to a large salmon portal. Along the Aille River, an affluent of the Argens River, the pine is king. But it is not alone. The vineyard also knows its heyday, planted on dry, arid Permian red sandstone, which gives it finesse and minerality. The Domaine des Nibas flourishes in the heart of this generous nature, in the natural reserve of the Maures plain. Before shifting towards viticulture, this forty-hectare property was the paradise of wild orchid and iris lovers. Today it houses a twelve-hectare vineyard - classified in AOC Côtes de Provence - led by Nicolas Hentz. Since 1990, the winemaker from Alsace runs this estate acquired by his father fifteen years earlier. A wine enthusiast, he has worked since his arrival at modernizing the vineyard. He first added a cellar - until 1995, grapes were taken to the cellar cooperative - then focused on tillage. “I long advocated a traditional and conventional agriculture, before going gradually back to more environmentally friendly methods,” he says. In 2006, he engaged on the process to organic conversion. “I think being certified is a guarantee of quality wine and life for the winemaker. Herbicides and pesticides cause lots of negative effects and diseases, which, unfortunately, are not reported enough.” Nicolas Hentz also applies this quest for natural in his cellar by minimizing the use of yeast. The vinification is meticulous, grape marc is not pressed and maturing is done in small wooden barrels. This requirement has allowed the Domaine de Nibas to be distinguished for its rosé and red, which constitute the bulk of its production. 6.4269444444444,43.355833333333,0