Notes from our trip to France in 2014
We stayed in a hotel that we wouldn’t recommend near La Napoule just to the west of Cannes. The town has L'Oasis (Michelin **) that we didn’t visit and several good local restaurants, especially La Pomme d'Ammour and Les Bartavelles, that we did. We decided that our * meal would be in Italy for a variety of uncommon reasons so we found one a short distance across the border, La Conchiglia in Arma di Taggia. It was well known for its wine list and seafood – neither of which disappointed.
La Conchiglia *
Lungomare 33 18011 Arma di Taggia Tel: +39018443169
La Conchiglia restaurant
La Conchiglia risotto
Getting to La Conchiglia is not that easy because it is on the road on the sea front only that is now pedestrianised and there is little parking nearby, but the effort is worth it. We had their menu of the day which included carpaccio, risotto and langoustines accompanied by a red wine that they suggested, a Barbera d'Asti, Bricco della Bigotta 2005 made by Braida. An excellent lunch.
Truth be told we don't like rosé; it always seems to us that people make it when they don't know what else to do with the lousy leftovers of the vintage. So we went to Provence to see if we tasted what many consider to be excellent rosé we would change our minds. Our experience in local restaurants was mixed; one, maybe two were ok and the rest were lousy. So we took a day off the beaches of Cannes and St Tropez (a big sacrifice) to see what we could find. In any event we needed good half bottles of rosé for our customers.
Domaine de RimauresqRoute Notre Dame des Anges, BP 26 – 83790, Pignans Tél +33 4 94 48 80 45
We first tried their R overlooking the yacht harbour in La Napoule in the full evening sun and it tasted pretty good there so we added them to our list of places to go. They produce two ranges; Rupture (all under €15) and the premium R. They don’t produce half bottles but do bottle the Rupture range in 50cl bottles. The Ruputre rouge ’12 was unoaked, light and very pleasant; the Rosé was full of fruit, not surprising seeing that it was made from 8 different grape varieties including white grapes; the blanc was made with Rolle grapes and had the taste but not the nose of a good fresh sauvignon blanc. The R rouge ’12 (€19) had great fruit and subtle oak being made from Cab 40%, Syrah 36%, Mourvedre 14% and Cinsault 10%. The R Rosé (€12.40) also had lots of different grapes but the major one was Cinsault (50%). We thought that this was fruiter but lighter than the Rupture Rosé. We bought both rosés.
Cellier Saint SidoineRue de la liberation, 83390 Puget-Ville Tél 04 98 01 80 50
This highly rated co-op makes 4 rosé ranging in price from €4.55 to €7.50 and also bottles 50cl of the Saint Sidoine – but no half bottles. All their wines are made from blends of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah and Tibouren. We thought that the Saint Sidoine (€6.80) and the Elite (€7.50) were definitely the best and so bought these.
Domaine du Grand CrosRd 13 83 660 Carnoules Tél +33 4 98 01 80 08
Grand Cros make white, red, rosé and sparkling wines across a variety of price points; the Jules range at around €7, the l’esprit range around €9 and the Nectar range and sparkling wines above €10. The whites in the cheaper ranges were primarily made from Vermentino (Rolle) except the top of the range Nectar which was, you guessed it, new oak chardonnay. They were all quite pleasant. But we came to taste the perpetual award wining L’esprit de Provence Rosé which was 60% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 10% Rolle and 5% Cinsault. This had great fruit, reasonable complexity and good acidity – all in all, a great rosé. The surprise was the ’09 red made from 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Mourvèdre, 30% Carignan. This was very fruity and despite no oak had a good structure and balance. The more expensive Nectar was matured in oak for 12 months and despite being a ’04 was full of tannins. We bought the L’esprit rosé and red (both just over €9).
Domaine Gavoty83340 Cabasse Tel: 00 33 (0)4 94 69 72 39
Dm Gavoty cellar door
Dm Gavoty tasting room
We were lucky that when we arrived the owner, Roselyne Gavoty, was doing the tastings; we learned a lot. Firstly, that because the grapes are grown for rosé in Provence and not made into rosé as an afterthought (as in many areas outside Provence) the quality shone through. Second, she thought that red wines should be made without oak maturation in Provence as the winemakers there do not really understand oak as they do in, say, Bandol. Their cuvee Clarendon Rouge ‘11 (Syrah 60% and Cabernet Sauvignon) was a complete eye-opener for us as our experience was that almost all reds without oak were missing something, but this certainly was not. The ’04 really reinforced this – both full of body, structure and fruit. The Clarendon Blanc ’13 was 100% Rolle, full of flavour and good acidity; the ’11 was softer and more complex showing how well Rolle can age. The Clarendon Rosé ’13 was 65% Grenache and 35% Cinsault from old vines; strawberries, fruity, complex. We bought the ’04 Rouge (€16).
Commanderie de PeyrassolRN7, 83340 Flassans Tel: +33 4 94 69 71 02
Unusually Peyrassol charge for tastings - €5 for 4 tiny amounts. I usually buy wine to pay for tasting but a charge means that you can walk away without feeling guilty. They make rosé at 4 different levels; we tasted from the middle two, Chateau and Commanderie. We also tasted red and white from these ranges. The ’13 Commanderie Blanc made from Ugi Blanc and Semillon was fresh and probably good with food. The ’13 rosé was pleasant enough and the ’11 Rouge with Cab and Syrah and no oak was somewhat thin. The Chateau ’13 rosé contained a bit of everything and did not really taste like a rosé and was a bit on the sweet side. The ’11 Rouge with Syrah, Cab and oak was pretty good. These two came in 50cl bottles (€10.15 and €11.60 respectively) so we bought both.