Côte d’Azur – visit a local vineyard (1) - Al Fresco Holidays
Want a change from the campsite pool and the beaches of the Med? An hour or so’s drive from La Baume, Domaine de Colombier, Esterel and Les Pêcheurs, these Chateaux will provide peace and quiet while deciding which of the region’s best wines suit your palate.
Not many wine estates can trace their history back to the 14th century, but then Château Roubine is no ordinary wine estate. Presided over by the elegant and glamorous Valerie Rousselle-Riboud, it’s one of only a small number of properties in Provence entitled to call itself a ‘cru classé’, or classed growth. It’s also in a stunning setting covering 320 acres, roughly half planted to vineyards, with the remainder occupied by lavender, olive trees and the chateau itself, complete with ornamental gardens. You can taste through the range of wines in the visitor centre, which also houses art exhibition and sells a variety of local produce. Those who are really keen can take courses on grape growing and winemaking, and as well as cookery classes. Or you can just content yourself with wandering through the vineyards, where you’ll find numerous signs giving information about the estate.
Those vineyards contain no fewer than 13 different grape varieties from the well known – Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay – to less familiar faces like Clairette and Tibouren. It’s this last variety, Tibouren, which is responsible for Roubine’s excellent rosés. As with the equally fine reds (based on Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon) and whites (Semillon and Rolle), these come in three different quality levels – Classique, Prestige and top-of-the-range Inspire. If you have your own car, stock up while you’re there, otherwise contact importers Eminent Wines on your return to the UK (www.eminentwines.com).
Château Roubine www.chateauroubine.com
RD562, 83510 Lorgues tel 04 94 85 94 94
Directions : From Frejus, head along the DN7 towards the A8 and Puget-sur-Argens (3.8km). At the roundabout, take the first exit onto the A8/E80 (toll road) towards Draguignan and Nice. Take exit 36 toward Draguignon, Le Muy and Sainte-Maxime. Merge onto the N555.
Keep left at the fork. Go across 1 roundabout (600m). Turn left to merge onto DN7 (6km). Slight right at D10 (signs for Lorgues/Les Arcs). Go across 2 roundabouts (4.5km). Turn left at Rue des Dindouliers/D10/D73. Continue to follow D10 (7.6km). At Rond-Point du 19 Mars 1962, take the 3rd exit onto Boulevard Frédéric Mistral/D562 (850m). At Rond-Point Jean Moulin, take the 2nd exit onto Avenue de la Libération/D10. Continue to follow D10 and on across another 2 roundabouts.