Le Domaine Ott was founded in 1896 by an Alsacian winemaker. This winemaker could be considered the ambassador for the Cotes de Provence. Only 25% of these wines have been exported. The estate produces powerful red wines, which improves with aging, some nice white wines and some exceptional roses. They can be consumed the year they were produced or after 3 to 4 years and truly count among the great wines of France. The quality of the wine drives every level of production: the choice of the soil, the variety, and the method of tending the wines. They use traditional native southern French varieties for all types of wines, and practice organic cultivation without pesticides, but do use trace elements and Bordeaux mixture to combat disease. The copper-and-lime preparation is classified here as a natural treatment, and considered truly effective. The production of these wines is characterized by the methods employed : The vines organically tended and protected and carefully harvested, the grapes are meticulously sorted and pressed, no addition of sulfur, only long fermentation , and maturation in oak casks. There are different wine growing areas, Chateau de Ramassan at Beausset, Clos Mireille by the sea, and Chateau de Selle on the hills of the Haut-Pays,in which the Otts exercise their expertise. The wines of all three bear the characteristics of their particular terroir, and contribute to the good reputation of the appellation. The estate also produces an eau de vie de Provence. The production process takes six good years, conducted in a very regimented manner. Stern legal controls are imposed, affecting each stage of distillation. The still used to produce the spirits of Domaine Ott is sealed, and remains so until a customs official unseals it. The exact date and time of filling the still , the weight of the marc ( the pomace) used, and the strength and quantity of the alcohol produced must be precisely noted and the moment when the distillation process is halted has to be declared right away. The Estate will only keep the spirit produced during the middle period of distillation is kept. This small fraction contains the finest alcohols, which make up only 5% of the total volume. Then the marc is then transferred to casks and matured for 6 months before being licensed by Onivins ( The office National interprofessional of wines.
After a 3 to 4 years maturation , the marc has a pale yellow color that develops into an orange-brown hue over the next four years. The flavor will mellow with age, without losing the original strength of its alcoholic content. Blending will be the final stage of the production, it also demands the skill of the wine-maker-distiller. Often several vintages are mixed to achieve ,a balance of flavor, and the resulting blend allowed to rest for 4 more months. Finally the desired marc is ready to be bottled and sold!.
Chateau de Selle has a neighbor, Chateau Rasque. The vineyard maintains the cultivation of traditional grape varieties by traditional methods. Harvesting is done by hand, to minimize the damage to the grapes. This in itself will explain the character of the resulting wines; elegant & fine reds, aromatic delicate whites, and soft aromatic roses.
The Domaine de Richaume sits at the foot of Sainte-Victoire and the cultivation practiced here is strictly conducted, combining a concern for quality with modern technology. The vines grow on stony soil and are tended with great care, and an increasingly approach to organic standards. The wine maker’s care is very important in environmental matters, diversity of varieties, careful harvesting and storage in oak barrels. All these factors are very important and contribute to producing wines of very high quality.
The rose is made up of Southern France‘s finest grape varieties. Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault. It has a very delicate citrus fragrance. The reds have a bouquet that is reminiscent of red fruits and spices. The 1996 vintage had to be decanted but for by 2006 this vintage will develop its full potential in richness.
The Blanc de Blancs are matured in oak barrels, they are elegant and fruity wines. The estate Domaine Real Martin, Clos Minuty, Domaine Gavoty, Commanderie de Peyrassol produce very good wines that can serve as an advertisement for the appellation. It is clear that Cotes de Provence has much more to offer than a simple rose table wine. The wine estates of this area prove that a rigorously controlled production method, whether using traditional or modern technology, is a very important factor contributing to the production of fine quality wines.
Organic Wine growing.
Organic wine growing is governed by a European regulation of 1991. The key principles are these:
– No artificial chemical products are allowed to be used in cultivation.
– The rules of organic cultivation must have been applied for three growing seasons before the wine is allowed to bear on the bottle label the words ( wine produced from organically grown grapes).
– Certification must be given by an office that is recognized for that purpose.