Sunny August afternoons are made for rosé wine and they don’t taste better than when in the South of France. Last Wednesday whilst on a visit to Domaine Tropez; a stunning vineyard nestled in the hills above Saint Tropez this pleasure was fulfilled.
One can appreciate why the more well-heeled arrive in Saint Tropez via yacht; the roads are a nightmare! A wiggling maze of steep-sided tracks with barely enough room for two cars, let alone the thundering Ferraris. This made the arrival at the fabulously stylish Domaine Tropez even more welcoming. Set back from the road is their ranch-like winery, the thatched roof of the tasting room providing welcome dappled shade whilst we enjoyed a welcome glass of rosé. Our hosts Gerrit and Anne-Laure sat with us and explained what they had lovingly created.
In the Vineyard
Since 1996 they have been cultivating their nearly 100 acres of vines to produce their ranges of red, white and rosé wines – all still, and the rosés almost white. The coastal location has influence over the grapes as they grow in more sandy soil, overlying the clay and limestone hills. They use simple blends, only one or two at a time of their 7 varieties. The lesser known grape ‘Rolle’ was one that we had not heard of before – a white grape with a pink kiss to the skin, much like their rosés.
Finishing our first glass and walking over to their state-of-the-art production building; we were struck by the drop in temperature. From the 34ºc August sunshine into the 21ºc cool of their vast concrete construction. Dozens of spotlessly clean stainless-steel vats fill the hall, their reflections shining in the freshly hosed down floor. Gerrit explains with passion that low-temperatures are a flagstone of their process. They pick their grapes at night to ensure maximum sugars in the fruit and then ferment them slowly, giving their wines their light-coloured appearance.
Rosé Tasting Time
A stroll back to the tasting room for the ‘serious business’, expertly conducted by Anne-Laure. Starting with their original and signature Cuvée Sublime Rosé, barely pink in colour yet complex and refined. A beautiful aperitif wine – mango, apricot and peach – deep and long lasting. This features the ‘rolle’ grape we’ve never tried before but will keep a keen eye out for. Next we taste their other more traditional rosé; Domaine Tropez Rosé. A wine for food, much more elegant – peach again, but citrus now too. Maybe it’s the sun, the location and company, but they taste superb. One box of the Cuvée is already heading to the back of the car.
Next are their two feature brands; Sand Tropez and Crazy Tropez. Even before they are open, I think to myself that French wine could learn a lot from these two. They are brands, in the way I understand – they have identity, creativity and are not a line drawing of a chateaux with some script text. With the handywork of Anne-Laure, they take the worldwide fame of Saint Tropez and play with it in two different but equally clever ways. They are refreshing to taste; a shade darker than the previous two, but still only a touch of pink in the glass. Sand with red fruit, Crazy with wonderful exotic notes. A case of Crazy joins the pile for the boot.
Sand Tropez and Crazy Tropez are both available from St Austell Wines – please speak to your Wine Development Manager for more details. In the mean time, these are also featuring (with me) in my garden for the remainder of the summer – attempting to recreate the couple of hours spent at Domaine Tropez.
Kristian Andrews, Head of Design, St Austell Brewery