I spend part of my year scurrying around the country reviewing both ingredients and suppliers alike. This has always been a most enjoyable process but until now after ten years of marmotting my trip to Provence proved to be the best yet.
24 hours later it almost seemed like a daydream where the memories evaporated the more I reminisced. The harder I clasped, the quicker those lovely moments went puff in the moist Luton air. It was not depressing returning to cloudy England, but just awkward that I had for a day lived as ‘the chosen one’.
Château Léoube winery, East of Toulon on the coast of the Côte d’Azur was our setting for that day. We arrived in just over an hour where security consisted of coffee and croissant and immigration wafted us through as though we had just won Eurovison – no removing of shoes here. With ‘old’ Land Rovers at the ready, a whiff of a forgotten empire touched our imagination as the warm seductive air took a charm to our faces and then we were off – off to enjoy, savour and appreciate all that is French through an Englishman’s re-creation.
Taken over in 1998 by Sir Anthony Bamford (of construction firm JCB and Daylesford Organic), this estate is worth visiting for its organic wines and seaside setting where even the sea pines lolling across the verandas seemed both soft and accommodating. The rosé wine is clear and a beautiful orange and pale pink in complexion. Although recently bottled, the wine is already beautifully expressed and is characterised by a mix of complex flavours of red berries (raspberry), white-fleshed fruit (peach) and flower petals highlighted by a hint of iodine.
This winery is a modern testament to an ever-improving ethos in food today, where what we eat and how it is produced really does matter. We enjoyed a hearty lunch filled with laughter in the modern cellar where concrete and steel helps maintain a sense of order and focus. Followed by a tour of vines, beach and the neighbours’ residence – summer house to M. le Président!
After sampling their estate of wines and an equally excellent house olive oil it was time to leave. We made our farewells, boarded the Gulfstream G550, with only nine seats and plenty of room for the day’s papers, and headed back.
With a magnum of rosé on board to help ease the discomfort of our ever enduring leg space we enjoyed the sun setting as we made our descent into Hertfordshire airspace.
Thank you Château Léoube for a lovely day in Provence.