France ranks at the top globally, where the predominant choice is pink wine. It has rightfully earned a global reputation for producing some of the best quality rosés in the world. These pink-hued wines have a refreshingly crisp flavor, which pair perfectly with the region’s sunny climate and coastal cuisine. Rosé wines taste just like summer – light and fruity with prominent notes of tart citrus, flowers, and melon. They range in body and complexity, but often finish with a crunchy green flavor, similar to rhubarb or celery. Some fans enjoy pink, primarily as a summer refresher, but we think that these quality rosé wines are enjoyable all year long.
We had the opportunity to visit some of the top wineries around St Tropez, both large and small. Many wineries in Provence have been run by families for generations, passing down their expertise and dedication to crafting wines. An incredible 88% of wine production in Provence is rosé, with 9% red and 3% white. Pink wine from Provence accounts for almost 10% of the world’s rosé production, with France being the largest user. France not only leads as the chief producer, but also holds the titles for the top importer and top exporter (measured in value) of rosé wines. Interestingly, when it comes to volume, Spain takes the lead in exporting rosé, largely to France. Meanwhile, France directs its pricier rosé varieties to other destinations.
Château Minuty dates back to the 19th century, and specializes in producing elegant and excellent rosé wines. The estate has 160 acres of vineyards overlooking the Gulf of St Tropez and 37 acres in nearby Ramatuelle on the slopes of Val De Raisna.
The farm does not use pesticides nor herbicides on the grapes and they are harvested by hand. The most important variety used is Genache, although, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsaut grapes are featured in their blends. The Rosé et Or, M.Rosé, and the Prestige Rosé are Minuty’s most recognizable wines in the USA. They also produce an excellent white, which we can recommend, labeled Blanc et Or.
The Château Minuty Estate
Château Minuty is one of 18 estates who hold the classification of Crus Classés, which was created in 1955. The designation is based on an evaluation of the estates’ history, winemaking/cellar reputation and overall vineyard quality. We did a nice tasting here, which included touring the cellar and vat area, which was impressive. Minuty Wines have a great reputation globally and offer distinctive bottling. Pictured above is the Château Minuty 281 Côtes de Provence Rosé. 281 is the Pantone reference number for the Royal Blue color which cascades down the side of the beautiful bottle. The large bottle is a Jeroboam, which is the same size as 4 bottles. Yes, we brought that one home – and it is our recommendation for a rosé.
Situated at the base of Ramatuelle village, the owners of this estate both operate and live on the property. Fondugues Pradugues produces low-intervention, biodynamic-certified wines using holistic methods. We were impressed by the estate’s commitment to avoid chemical interventions and all pesticides, and to refrain from using post-harvest additives.
Fondugues Pradugues Farmhouse
In the 1960s, Danielle Rey, who was a 5th generation winemaker, purchased two farmhouses surrounded by 14 hectares of vines. She farmed conventionally and sold the harvest to the local co-ops. 50 years later, in 2010, her son-in-law and young family moved to the estate with the desire to grow grapes organically. For several years, they experimented with winemaking using these natural methods. By 2020, Fondugues Pradugues began to bottle their entire production onsite in a newly-built, environmentally-responsible winery.
The vineyards are certified organic and the approach to farming is green and sustainable. Draft horses are used for certain key jobs in the vineyard and they welcome herds of sheep each year to trim the cover crops. Grapes are harvested early, beginning at 4 am, with the goal of getting everything pressed while the grapes are still cool in the morning. Fermentation is done with native yeast, and the majority of the wines are aged in stainless steel tanks for 4-5 months before bottling with no, or minimally added, sulfite.
This was the most beautiful vineyard and Château that we visited. Chateau Saint-Maur was built in the late 19thcentury and had various landowners. Roger Zannier has owned the estate, which includes more than 100 hectares, in St Tropez since 2011. Roger was successful in founding and leading a luxury, worldwide children’s clothing group. However, he is truly passionate about wine and has turned this provençal estate into a renowned vineyard.
Château Saint-Maur carries the prestigious Cru Classe designation, given in 1955 to only 18 estates. All three colors of wine are produced here, although rosé comprises 90% of production.
Château Saint-Maur Vineyards
The vineyard extends over three parcels of land, allowing them to cultivate several grape varieties. The plot of Clos Saint-Vincent is the nearest to St Tropez, which benefits from strong maritime influences and sandy soil. The Château Saint-Maur Cru Classé vineyard is located at the foothills of the Maures mountain range on a clay-limestone soil. Finally, the Clos de Capelune overlooks the Gulf of St Tropez, on the heights of Collobrières. It has the highest vine in the Côtes de Provence. This parcel has a primary soil containing mica and quartz.
Zannier has made an incredible investment into updating and modernizing both the estate and the cellars of Chateau Saint-Maur. He kept the old buildings, but created incredible spaces, an impressive art gallery and a high-tech, state-of-the-art winery on the same property.
Established by a small winemaking family in 1908, the Torpez winery is the longest-running operational winery in Provence. Today, it has been transformed into a novel winemaking venture since 2019, with a new brand signature and a fresh commitment to excellence. The name, Torpez, pays homage to the patron saint and guardian of the village, embracing its rich local heritage. Also, the city of St. Tropez is named after the same Roman officer and patron saint, Torpez, making the name fitting for this local brand.
The historic winery, has been located in the city center in St Tropez since 1908, but has integrated a new production site for its 111th vintage. We met with the owner for a semi-private tasting and a tour of the lovely grounds and building.
With Love From St.Tropez
The elegantly designed & engraved TORPEZ bottle makes the Torpez brand both unique and distinctive. Torpez Ultimum Vignobles de St Tropez is our rosé recommendation. It is a blushing pink with hints of apricot, and a delicate floral. Our choice for a white is the Torpez Bravade Blanc. This wine has an aromatic freshness of lime and other citrus fruits, along with blackcurrant and spices such as white pepper. The wooden boxes “With Love from St Tropez” make an ideal gift presentation for family and friends.
The Château is located just northeast of St Tropez, in the heart of Provence. The vineyard overlooks the Esclans Valley with the Mediterranean coast in the distance. Chateau D’Esclans produces a variety of rosé wines; however, the most famous one (and our recommendation) is the Whispering Angel.
This wine is the #1 best-selling French wine in the USA, and outsells its competitors globally 4 to 1. Whispering Angel is a pale and pure rosé with notes of fresh citrus, rose petal and red fruits. Like most French rosé, it is dry with a smooth finish. It can be easily found locally, wherever wine is sold. **Yesterday, it was at our local Trader’s Joe’s for $22, just in case you are ready for a crisp French rosé. 🙂
Our visit to some of the best wineries in the St Tropez region was fascinating and educational. While rosé wines have been produced since ancient times, they are seeing a large increase in popularity over the past few years. Consumers are now looking for lighter, refreshing, and easy-to-drink wines, which perfectly describe rosé. It’s also incredibly versatile and a perfect accompaniment to a variety of foods. Recently, due to Instagram and other social media outlets, rosé has become a symbol of sophistication and modernity. Hopefully, these special wines of summer will find their way to your table throughout every season. Cheers!