Discovering 12 wine estates
The people behind this success: the wine growers.
You must admit that the wine-growers of Cassis have a great strength of character and you’ve got to admire their commitment. It takes a lot of courage to resist the call of the property developers. Passion, to watch each day over the quality of their wine, respect their traditions and open up to new techniques; to unite past and future...
Setting out to meet these enthusiasts...
Although we often talk of wine-growers as men, it must be remembered that in Cassis this profession also counts several women... For example, Jérômine Paret, at the head of the Domaine de la Ferme Blanche who works alongside her father and Philippe Garnier, oenologist and cellar master, or Sophie Cerciello-Simonini, at the head of Clos Val Bruyère, with her oenologist husband.
Two dynamic, strong women who are, of course, passionate…
Domaine de la Dona
Founded in 1999 by Jean Tigana, the famous football player and connoisseur of great wines. The Domaine is not open for visits.
The White is mineral, with a flinty taste.
25 avenue Pierre Imbert - 13260 Cassis
The wines of Cassis symbolise a way of life
The Cassis Vineyard was among the very first Appellations d’Origine Contrôlée in 1936 (with Sauternes and Châteauneuf-du-Pape). It is planted – and this is noteworthy – exclusively in the district of Cassis, sheltered by Cap Canaille, the tallest coastal cliff in France, plunging down from a height of 400 metres into the Mediterranean.
The presence of stubborn and passionate wine-growers, who have never given into the lure of urbanisation, has maintained the vineyard over relatively large areas. In its latest Land Use Plan, the district has extended the vineyard area from 178 to 210 hectares for three reasons: the vineyards not only contribute directly to the beauty of the landscape and carry a real economic weight, they also play an important role in the protection against fires.
Although the wines of Cassis can be discovered with pleasure around a table, with your family or friends, the real connoisseurs will not fail to take a walk through the magnificent lands of the Cassis vineyards to meet the 12 wine-growers... Because the countryside is agreeable, and the wine-growers know how to initiate wine-lovers into the art of tasting.
Cassis Label of Origin
The Cassis Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée
The Cassis vineyard is exclusively planted in the district of Cassis, an "urban vineyard", sheltered by Cap Canaille, the tallest coastal cliff in France, plunging down from a height of 400 metres into the Mediterranean. It’s a "pocket vineyard”, with just 210 hectares for a production of about 1 million bottles a year. One bottle for one vine. A rare wine that is made and sold by twelve wine-growers. Although the whites – dry and fruity – are the most renowned, the reds and rosés are also well-known.
An exceptional terroir and a favourable microclimate
Cassis’s distinctive eco-system and unique microclimate are highly favourable:
- It does not suffer much from the Mistral wind whose ardours are cooled as it blows through the pine-crowned hills
- The sea breeze keeps the vines in good health thanks to its healthy humidity
- 3,000 hours of annual sunshine help the grapes to flourish and increase their sugar content
- The rains, in the early spring, allow the vegetation to get off to an early start, and then in the autumn, regenerate the dried-out soil.
The limit imposed on the amounts produced, in favour of the special and constant attention paid to quality, gives the wines of Cassis their distinguished and precious character.
The grape varieties
gives a green juice, bringing degrees of alcohol and fragrances. It offers finesse and a good length on the palate.
contributes freshness, acidity, alcohol content and persistence. It gives the wine its litheness and nervous touch.
one of the oldest varieties in Provence, (it was imported by the Greeks 2,600 years ago) gives finesse and, above all, encourages the delicate acidity that is essential for the subtle balance of Cassis Whites. It supports the alcohol and carnal contribution of the Clairette.
is very “floral”. It marks the wine with its almond blossom and hyacinth fragrances.
White Bourboulenc (or Doucillon)
is a rustic, robust and productive variety that enriches the whites with a typically southern “sweet note”. It gives structure and balance, finesse and warmth.
is a variety that has nearly completely disappeared in Cassis. Only the Domaine St Louis has preserved its qualities and uses it in its Fonfon vintage. It is a fine, elegant and powerful variety that brings stability to the complex aromatic mix.
gives the wines their lovely red colour and the aroma of ripe red fruit, sweetness and finesse. It gives the rosés freshness, lightness and flower and fruit fragrances.
a late variety, gives the heady touch, very colourful and aromatic (violet, apricot, cherry…). It contributes to the tannic balance, and smoothness to the “body”, excellent guarantees for its aging qualities.
brings vigour, degrees, character and a lovely bronzy ruby colour. It contributes to the “heady” aspect of Cassis’s reds.
not much used, and only for the Reds, gives a deep colour and a tannic structure, well-built, generous with ripe banana aromas... In order to express its character to the full, it must only be grown on hillsides and with very small yields.
Separating the grapes from the stems
(the woody part of the bunch)
Lightly bursting the grapes
Extracting the grape juice
To prevent fermentation from starting,
it makes it possible to avoid any decantation, and generally lasts one night
Transforming the sugars into alcohol
BLANC DE BLANC
This is a white wine made from white grapes
Wine-making processes and maturing
The wines of Cassis are the fruit of traditional techniques as well as of the latest wine-making processes. The grapes are harvested by hand, to ensure a better selection of the grapes. The grapes are then taken in small wooden vats (comportes) to prevent them from being crushed, before being destemmed, and then:
For white wines
Crushed, left to run and quickly pressed and racked, they then undergo heat-regulated alcoholic fermentation (between 18 and 20°C), until all of the sugar has been transformed, without maceration of the solid part of the bunches. The wine is then kept in metallic vats to avoid any oxidation.
For rosé wines
The wine-making process is carried out in the same ways as for the Whites. It is simply the colour of the must and the kind of grape variety that make it possible to obtain Rosé wines, by saignée (bleeding off) and pressing.
Les vins rouges
The red varieties are crushed partially and then destalked. The fruits are then placed in a vat where they undergo a long maceration during which the alcoholic fermentation is carefully heat-regulated (between 28 and 30°C). Eight to ten days are all that’s required before the wine is drawn off. This will be followed by patient maturing in the tank, with bottling being carried out 18 months later.
Reminder: it is the skin that gives the wine its colour. This means it is possible to obtain a white wine from black grapes.
Frédéric Mistral wrote in his poem “Calendal” about the wine of Cassis: “The bee has no honey sweeter, it shines like a limpid diamond, smells of the rosemary, heather and myrtle that covers our hills...”.
Wine is associated with all moments of sharing and conviviality. The wines of Cassis symbolise the art of living. They can be enjoyed starting as an aperitif through to your meal, wonderfully accompanying all the cooking of southern France...
The Whites with their greenish gold glints are succulent, generous, with citrus fruit, white flower, almond or honey fragrances. These are bold, well-balanced wines. The closeness of the sea gives them their iodised nature, with a barely salty vivacity. Besides the famous bouillabaisses, anchoyades and aïolis, bass grilled with fennel, bream in a salt crust, the white wine of Cassis, “born from a coastal vineyard”, accompanies shellfish perfectly. It’s a wine that also goes well with garlicky, saffron-perfumed and spicy, exotic cooking. It is at its best when served at a temperature of between 8 and 10°C.
The Rosés have a slightly salmon-pink colour, along with delicate cherry and strawberry fragrances. They can be served with white meats, dishes such as vegetable or fish terrines, and ratatouilles. They are the ideal companion for barbecues.
The Reds – full-bodied, well-built, with raspberry fragrances – develop leathery fragrances as they age. The go well with meats in sauce, small game, characterful cheeses.