A stroll through ‘les baux-de-provence AOC’ - III

Article from 10-07-2006

Finishing in style

In a former life, Jean-Daniel Schlaepfer was a top Geneva corporate lawyer. He made his dream of becoming a winegrower come true in 1993, when he bought Domaine de Lauzières in Mouriès. In a beautifully wild valley, lost in the middle of ‘garrigue’ (scrubland) covered with olive, pine and oak trees, and 31 ha of vines, Jean-Daniel Schlaepfer works magic with the classic southern varieties, syrah, mourvèdre and old Grenache, which he wisely kept to form the basis of his blend. All of his wines show great finesse. You must try his Solstice red (15 €uros), classic Baux wine with silky tannins and toasty licorice notes.
Domaine de Lauzières, le Destet, 13890 Mouriès. Tel: 04 90 47 62 88.

Lost in the middle of the Alpilles hills, Château Romanin is an outstanding estate that feels like the end of the world. The magnificent cathedral like cellar with its missile columns leaves you flabbergasted. For a few years now, better control over winemaking and new vines reaching maturity, have given Château Romanin’s wines power and elegance. The 2002 Château blend, perfectly poised, surprises you with its rich warming personality (17.50 €).
Château Romanin, route de Cavaillon, 13210 Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. Tel: 04 90 92 45 87.

Dominique Hauvette, from the eponymous estate, has worked 17 vintages to become an ambassador for the Baux appellation area. Bold, uncompromising and a perfectionist, this strong willed woman, and excellent winemaker, creates reds destined for the long haul. Complex wines, fruit-forward yet expressing each vintage well. Her Hauvette 2001 (22 €) is fine, elegant and has good length.
Domaine Hauvette, Chemin du Trou des Bœufs, la Haute-Galine, 13210 Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. Tel: 04 90 92 03 90. (Please ring in advance)

Where to stay in les Baux?

L’auberge de la Candelière
Adjoining the Prémontrés candle factory, one of the last two artisan candle makers in France, the auberge de la Candelière has six comfortable and welcoming ‘chambres d’hôtes’ (guestrooms) at very attractive rates (54 euros), each one representing a profession from the old days.
Auberge de la Candelière, 2, avenue lieutenant Atger, 13690 Graveson. Tel: 04 90 95 71 18.

Push the boat out a bit
Jas de l’Ange
Eric and Laurence, two ex Parisians, recreated an old Provençal mas (farmhouse) from floor to ceiling, with crazy yet genuine charm in the middle of nowhere. The swimming pool, cut out of rock, looks like a little pond in a lovely green meadow. The bedrooms, with sophisticated yet unpretentious decor, look out onto a walled vegetable garden or hundred year old olive trees. A little corner of paradise for 250 € a night.
Jas de l’Ange, route d’Eygalières, 13660 Orgon. Tel: 04 90 73 39 50.

100% organic vineyards?

A little revolution is brewing in les Baux-de-Provence. This small Provençal wine district covering 320 ha is about to become the world’s first all organic appellation area. A formal application has been logged at the Institut Nationale des Appellations d’Origine. This countrywide body, guardian and enforcer of wine laws, has already agreed in principle. In fact, a little over 80 % of Baux’s vineyards are already farmed organically, with no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Just two out of eleven growers haven’t yet made the move. Time will tell if the growers’ association will wait for them to do it willingly or exclude them from the AOC.

North or south?

You can pick out two wine types in les Baux. The ones on the Alpilles’ southern slopes are more Mediterranean than those facing north, less exposed to the sun. The grapes here ripen later and yield livelier, more mineral wines closer in spirit to Côtes-du-Rhône wines. But as always, it’s by trying them that you notice the difference.

Words and photos: Régis Cailleau

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