Nestled into the coast, tucked behind the Provencal hills infamously painted by the likes of Cézanne and Van Gogh is the seaside town of Cassis. As if this quintessential French seaboard town could be any more brilliant, it is also a wine appellation, producing mostly fine white wines perfectly fitting for sipping with your toes in the sand and a coastal breeze through your hair while watching vibrant sails bobbing on the horizon.
Château de Fontblanche
On the way down into the center of Cassis, Château de Fontblanche is the spot to pause for a sampling of the local wine fare and a close up of the vines. There, you can experience samplings of their range of white, rosé and even an experimental red wine. One white offered is a very fresh, flavorful “Pur Jus de Gouttes,” which translates to “pure free run juice.” This wine is produced with only the juice resulting from the gentle, natural pressing that occurs simply from the weight of the freshly picked grapes and gravity. What enjoyable, tropical-fruit expressions balanced with minerals and fresh, vibrant acidity. There is an undeniable sense of place to discover in these wines.
Cassis AOP, though small, is one of the oldest wine appellations in France; right there with the renowned Châteauneuf du Pape, Arbois, Monbazillac and Sauternes regions. Appellation Contrôlée status was obtained in May of 1936 in large part as an effort by the founder of Ch. de Fontblanche, Emile Bodin, to protect the town of Cassis which he loved so dearly from 20th century expansion and development. Today, Cassis’ charm remains preserved thanks to the surrounding designated vineyard land. Even the thousands of summer tourists clogging the waterfront can’t diminish its alluring patina.
If you can’t swing a visit to Cassis, but are traveling in Provence, keep an eye out for Château de Fontblanche or other Cassis wines on local restaurant wine lists. We were able to enjoy a bottle of the 2011 Ch. de Fontblanche, E. Bodin, Blanc de Blancs (40% Marsanne, 40% Ugni Blanc, 20% Clairette) dinning al fresco in the main square of Grasse. As Cassis wines are not easily found in the US, they are worthy choice over another local wine you may already be familiar with off the wine list. To boot, they are reasonably priced and quite tasty. You won’t be disappointed.
Cassis Bodin | Chateau de Fontblanche
Route de Carnoux – 13260 Cassis
Phone: 04 42 01 00 11
Fax: 04 42 01 32 11