About this WINE
Chateau La Mascaronne
Chateau Mascaronne is located in rolling hills just outside the Medieval village of Le Luc. It lies half way between the Provencal towns of Brignoles and Fréjus, with St Tropez to the south-east and Chateau Miraval close by. I mention Miraval because it used to be owned by Tom Bove, who subsequently bought Mascaronne in 1999, devoting a great deal of time and expat rigour to the cultivation of its wild charms, somewhat in the manner of a Russell Crowe film or a Peter Mayle book. Tom sold Miraval in 2012, allowing current owners Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to build a global brand onto the foundation of his brilliant efforts in the vineyards. Mr Bove is not, however, averse to marketing opportunities himself; in the late 1970s he released a wine called Pink Floyd, a rosé naturally enough, to celebrate the that the eponymous rock group had recorded part of their album ‘The Wall’ there. Terraces rather than walls adorn the pretty vineyards now…
Mascaronne has, if anything, even better terroir, tough and rocky and dramatically difficult to cultivate. The winemaker Laurence Berlemont is particularly keen on indigenous varietals for the white and rosés ( with Grenache, Cinsault and Rolle to the fore) but broadens the perspective a little for the reds, which are here dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvèdre, Syrah and Grenache. The local geological profile is dominated by rock (and Rolle), much of which has been painstakingly excavated to plant the vines; the average altitude is around 300 metres. All of the fruit is domaine-sourced and estate-bottled. The wines are organic, limited in production and uniformly excellent.
Cotes de Provence
Reputedly the source of Louis XIV’s favourite wines, Côtes de Provence lies in the south-east of Provence and overlaps with the Var department. Coteaux Varois is sandwiched between two parts of the Côtes de Provence appellation; the enclaves of Cassis, Bandol and Palette are also nestled between pockets of land to the south and east of Côtes de Provence.
Eighty percent of the appellation’s production is dry rosé wine, distinguished by an inimitable pale-pink colour and elegant flavours. Cinsault and Grenache dominate in the region’s rosés, augmented with the occasional dash of the local, intensely aromatic Tibouren. The AOC regulations stipulate that at least 20 percent of a rosé blend must come from wine made using the saignée (literally, ‘bleeding’) method.
The remaining 20 percent of the region’s production is dedicated 15 percent to red and five percent to white wines. Following the Phylloxera epidemic known as the Great French Wine Blight in the late 1800s, much of Côtes de Provence was replanted with the high-yielding Carignan vine.
Since the late 1990s, a host of new, small, dynamic estates has started to focus on a new-wave style of red wines, characterised by full-fruit ripeness, concentration, and soft tannins and using ameliorateur varieties such as Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, which are gradually replacing the once ubiquitous Carignan.
There are over 200 different grape varieties used in modern wine making (from a total of over 1000). Most lesser known blends and varieties are traditional to specific parts of the world.