Once again, I was fortunate enough to travel over to Provence with a view to buying some excellent rosé from arguably one of the most beautiful places on Earth. We went to the land of lavender and rosé, where the sea is basked in beauty, the landscape hugged by a detailed rocky coastline and every so often slowed by white sandy shores. These perfectly formed and often polite looking beaches set the tone, hosting small groups of linen-wearing locals, brown and good-looking. Here the sun never hides.
Here lies in the southern French peninsular a lovely, small and passionate vineyard owned and run by third generation wine grower and food-lover Régine Sumeire. We were introduced to this unique rosé, almost white in colour, refined and pleasing like lace, though it has been some time since I have enjoyed wearing it. The visit was simply to introduce the restaurant to a new wine maker and, for my staff, an opportunity to learn something beyond the menu.
We stayed at Château La Tour de l’Evêque. Its past steeped in the history of Provence and France. Queen Mary, Countess of Provence, gave privileges on this land to the inhabitants of Cuers. The sister of King René, Queen Jeanne, the Queen of Naples, is thought to have stayed there.
In good company and with a truly inspiring back drop we took residence and enjoyed two days of conversation, very good food and, of course, wine tasting. These trips are unusual and, though vital in my passion for finding what’s best for the Lussmanns table, it is without doubt one of the highlights of running a restaurant company.
Château La Tour de l’Evêque, AOC Côtes de Provence rosé, which will be launched in July, has been produced organically, although part of the estate is presently investigating the merits and scalability of moving over to Biodynamic production. (Biodynamics takes organic farming to a new, higher, spiritual level. The father of the movement is widely regarded as being Rudolf Steiner who gave a series of agricultural lectures in 1924 setting out the broad principles.)
Best when tasting this delicate wine to be drunk around 14°C. Lovely for the apéritif, also a perfect match for white sauces, fish dishes, smoked salmon, soufflés and Asian cooking. It is always worth noting that the colder the rosé, the harder it is to appreciate both character and style.
Our final lunch was at Le Club 55. Here I found a menu that reminded me of my parents and no doubt my father would have approved, little has changed here over the last 40 years. Linen, bling left in car park, this restaurant on the beach set the tone for what has always been St Tropez. This spot is quite separate from the rest of Pampelonne beach and has had its own philosophy since its creation in 1955: ‘The customer is not king here…because he is a friend’. What a lovely way to eat.
Our thanks to Charlie at Corney & Barrow for organising the trip and of course to Régine, Pierre and Matthieu for their hospitality.