Our opening night featured a visit to the 2nd smallest appellation in France: Bellet. We had arranged a visit to Chateau de Crémat, built in 1906 on Roman ruins. The estate has 20 acres of vineyards and produces about 40,000 bottles annually.
The previous owner was friends with Coco Chanel who received permission to adopt the symbol of the Chateau, two interlocking Cs, and they copyrighted it, so the estate can not use it anymore as its logo.
Crémat started producing wine in 1941 and they have adopted an unusual process to make their wines:the whites spend 4/6 months in barrels, the red 10/18 months, and both then spend 3 years in bottle before release.
We tasted the white, red and rosé from the 2011 vintage. The white is very rare and is made from rolle (aka vermentino) and some chardonnay. A bright green yellow color, spicy aroma of herbs and an intense smokey flavor. The red is made with folle noire, indigenous to Bellet. It has a deep red color and has 16% alcohol.
Our welcome dinner was at Maison de Marie, very nicely presented with foie gras, seabream and a memorable apricot and lavender ice cream.
The next morning we left for Bandol in the heart of Provence, stopping first at Chateau Vannières for a tasting and buffet lunch. Mourvèdre is the primary grape in Bandol and although Vannières makes fine, interesting wines, our visit to Domaine Tempier, the top estate in Bandol, was truly outstanding. Wewere greeted by Véronique Peyraud, one of the owners and a delightful hostess. She remembered us from our last visit in 2010.
Tempier only has about 14 acres of vineyards and produce 110,000 bottles. Her father Lucien was instrumental in forming the Bandol AOC. Their red Bandol is truly outstanding, made mostly from mourvèdre, with some grenache and cinsault used as needed. They are biodynamic and they must be doing something right- their mother Lulu is 99 years old and still helps in the winery.
Véronique treated us to a tasting to die for, 12 wines in all! rosé 2011, mostly mourvèdre; rosé 2013, more spicey, fruity, deeper red; rosé 1999 with a touch of volatile acidity; red 2015 barrel sample, which spends 18/20 months in barrel, 40/60 year old vines; red 2014- soft tannins and a vinous aroma; red 2014 ‘La Migoua’ single vineyard, mourvèdre with some grenache, cinsault and syrah; red 2014 ‘La Tourtine’ single vineyard and very limited production; red 2013- more delicate than the younger reds; 2013 ‘La Tourtine’, a powerful wine that can age 20/30 years; 2013 La Migoua’; Cuvée Spéciale 1998; and a really special treat, a 2002 white, made from bourboulenc, marsanne and rolle, it was fresh and so well-balanced for an aged white.