Provence vineyard with a Californian connection

Domaine Saint-Jean in Villecroze (Var)


During the Aups truffle festival we stayed two nights in Hôtel Le Grand. One evening we had a delightful local red wine with our dinner, so on the way back we decided to stop by the nearby vineyard in Villecroze.

It was a grey Monday morning, but they were open. A nice young lady gave us an excellent description of the vineyard and their wines.

The farm “Domaine Saint-Jean” was bought by a French-American couple in 1973. At that time there were no vineyards on the property and the new owner had no plans to start producing wine. However, a visiting American oenologist made a major study of the land, and calculated that the soil, climate and environment would be beneficial to producing great wines similar to those of California. Under the guidance of French and American expertise, 30 hectares of vineyard were planted, and most modern wine making equipment was acquired.

The grape varieties were carefully selected. At the beginning Cabernet Sauvignon and Cinsault were grown, later Syrah and Grenache as well as some white wine grapes were added. The property later changed ownership, but the new owners carried on aiming to produce quality wines.





We tasted some of their reds that interested us. First, the same that we had at our hotel: La Petite Chapelle Rouge 2012. It was 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, and aged for at least one year in French oak barrels. For just 9€ per bottle it was just as delightful as we remembered from the hotel dinner.

Was also tasted Reserve Rouge that was 80% Syrah and 20% Cabernet, a darker and spicier wine to go with beef and fermented cheese.

Lastly, we tried their La Petite Chapelle Collection Rouge 2010 (17€) made only from very good vintages. We bought a few bottles of this in addition to La Petite Chapelle Rouge 2012. So our purchases were 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, perhaps a bit unusual in Provence where other grape varieties such as Grenache and Mourvèdre tend to dominate!

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