Provence is known for luminosity, of genuine warmth is a setting of rich contrast. The Christmas season is an enveloping time of year when the light changes, the air is chilly, and traditions find a most sacred space in the homes of Provençal families.
This is the season of celebration, the Saison des Fêtes, highlighted by the Christmas markets that pop up in villages large and small as early as the end of November. Fill your shopping basket with delightful gifts and delicacies to enjoy with family and friends. Or take a ride throughout some of the most beautiful vineyard properties in Provence, in a vintage carriage to both taste and enjoy the scenery, such delicious wine tours are offered at the Var’s Château Fontableau.
Foie gras, shellfish, fresh poultry, and pastries fill shop windows drawing a playful hunger and excitement for the Christmas feast or Le Gros Souper. Le Gros Souper (the big supper) is a decadent, meatless meal enjoyed by families on Christmas Eve, often before Midnight Mass.
Sweet treats such as the Bouche de Noel and Thirteen Desserts (an array of dried fruit, nougats, melon, bread, calissons, pain d’epices, and other regional bites) which represent Christ and the twelve apostles cap Le Gros Souper. Vin cuit, a traditional cooked wine commonly crafted in the wine-producing region around Mont Sainte Victoire. To make vin cuit, pressed juice from the recent harvest is heated to just-under-boiling over a wood fire. After ten days, this reduced juice undergoes a fermentation, resulting in a sweet dessert wine.
Vin cuit follows the Thirteen Desserts as does a choice of local wines. Luxe Provence presents a selection of local wines to pair with your holiday traditions, to evoke the essence of the South of France in December in your home.
Château Coussin Sainte Victoire Côtes de Provence 2015
Château Coussin’s beautiful red wine from Sainte Victoire Côtes de Provence is composed of 70% Syrah and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon from vines of an average age of 30 years. Ripe black fruit and silky tannins balance with a bite of pepper on the finish. We particularly enjoy their Cuvée César à Sumeire Rouge 2015 composed of a slightly more complex blend of 70% Syrah, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Grenache. The perfect accompaniment to wild game, or venison Christmas lunch. This region is famous for the images of Mont Sainte Victoire immortalized in Cezanne’s paintings. It is also a bastion of ancient Roman and Greek vineyards, settlements, and agriculture.
Château de Chausse Côtes de Provence Rubis 2013
Château de Chausse is nestled on the St. Tropez Peninsula, several kilometers from the city of the same name. The estate’s Rubis is a Côtes de Provence AOP red made primarily of Syrah. Vines are all hand-harvested with minimal intervention. Château de Chausse focuses on high-quality wines, including red wines that can age beautifully. Rubis would be excellent for gift-giving, to adorn the cellar of your favorite collector.
Domaine de Trevallon Rouge and Blanc 2014
Domaine de Trevallon, near Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, is located in Saint-Etienne-du-Grès on the north ridge of the Alpilles range. Eloi Dürrbach envisioned vines planted in these nooks of scrubland that supported olive trees. The olives still thrive alongside the vines, all treated with the most natural of methods. The domaine crafts a red and white, each expressive of the Alpilles limestone and garrigue. Their 2014 Domaine de Trevallon Rouge receives very high marks for its unique nez of cassis, wood, mushrooms and leather, pairing perfectly with a truffle-based dish.
Le Grand Clos La Maîtresse Rosé Brut NV
Le Grand Clos La Maîtresse Rosé Brut is a delicate sparkling rosé, one intended for special gatherings. Hand-picked Grenache, Syrah, and Chardonnay express a balanced acidity, thanks to the maritime climate in which they grow in the foothills of the Massif des Maures. Dry stone, olives, and scrub herbs dress this setting, where the proprietors utilize the latest technology in an old-world environment.
Château Simone Palette Blanc 2013
Château Simone (top photo) produces about half of the wine from the tiny appellation of Palette, one of the most prestigious wine regions of Provence. The average age of the vines used in their Blanc is over 50 years – some ancient vines reach back as far as 100 years. This blend is a classic frame of the region: Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Ugni Blanc, Bourboulenc, and Muscat Blanc. This is a structured white wine, having spent 18 months in French Oak and harvested by hand. This white is a spectacular blend and may be paired beautifully with shellfish, crab and lobster for the perfect Christmas, or New Year’s Eve celebration.
Enjoy your holidays and we hope we have helped you to discover a new Provence wine selection for your special celebration.
Blog Written by: Jill Barth from L’Occasion – A Reason for Wine and Provence Wine Master with special notations by Tarik Koivisto for Luxe Provence.