In my most recent piece for The SOMM Journal, I explore the variety of Provence’s favorite drink with Château Minuty’s owner and winemaker François Matton at Le Cirque. Keep reading for the full story, and tasting notes excerpted below.
When I visited the Chêne Bleu estate in June 2013, I was deeply impressed by the care and precision that had gone into every aspect of restoring the property, including the house and its surroundings. Visitors to the area can actually rent out rooms or the entire house for periods of time (a weekly minimum during high season) for a relaxing, elegant, and deeply restorative experience, high above Provence.
Available for rent by room or for the entire house
Chemin de La Verrière, Crestet, France
It was a gorgeous day in early summer when I visited the small wine producer Chêne Bleu, based on the edge of the southern Rhône and the Côteaux de Provence in the south of France. Getting to the winery at La Verrière, located atop a mountain amongst the trees of the Dentelles de Montmirail, is easier said than done: Our GPS couldn’t find the address, so we had to do it the old-fashioned way, winding along narrow roads above the town of Crestet, eyes open for small signs and roadside markers, praying we were going in the right direction as we passed by forests and hiking trails until we finally came upon the beautifully restored ninth-century estate, high above the Rhône river valley. Continue reading
I had the good fortune of meeting and having lunch with Nicole Rolet of Chêne Bleu (“Blue Oak” in French) on her recent trip to New York. I didn’t know much about the wines before we met, but I was immediately taken away by her story. She and her husband had renovated La Verrière, a Medieval property in Provence, high in the mountains above the Gigondas region in the Southern Rhône.
I used to spend my summers in the south of France—my mother’s childhood friend had moved there to study painting, fell in love with a man, and never left. So, we obviously went to visit. From a very young age, then, I was introduced to the simple lifestyle and eating traditions of Provence. Simple salads. Fresh food that came straight from the market. Baguettes bought that morning. And Roquefort… I have been a bread and cheese lover ever since. In fact, I think there is no better meal if you are looking for something quick and delicious, especially on the go.
Today, G and I prepared a picnic that he brought to Bryant Park at lunch time. It was a perfect day—not hot, not chilly, no rain, a little breeze. We sat under the birch trees and set the table. This morning I had packed up my little cooler with a small cutting board and a paring knife wrapped on a dishcloth that ended up serving as our tablecloth. G added the fresh-bought baguette from the store around the corner, salami, apples, and the cheese—gorgonzola dolce and parmigiano. He sliced the bread and the salami and began to make little open-faced sandwiches, while I ate each separately, savoring their individual flavors. It was a perfect summertime meal: crisp, fresh, simple. When it was time to go, we shook the breadcrumbs from the cloth, rewrapped the knife, and packed the cooler, leaving it much lighter than it had been when he arrived.