Category Archives: Wine

Ultimate Provence in La Garde-Freinet

The new wine domaine-slash-stylish guest house is situated in La Garde-Freinet about 45 mins north of St Tropez and 40 mins’ drive from our village of Cotignac. It opened in June of this year and I went to check it out 2 weeks into their opening.

At first glance Ultimate Provence looks really out of place. The Urban-chic look attracts a younger clientele, perhaps the rich St Tropez vacationers who couldn’t find a place nearer the coast or preferred to have a more spacious and relaxed feel without all the glitz and blitz. The tasting room sparkles to the contrasting heavy dark iron details; a mélange of New York loft à la plage. But it’s all new so it’s clean and impressive and certainly commands a “wow” reaction. Their wine bottles look like elongated perfume bottles with ridges that can’t be cheap to produce. They’d make great gifts.

The main hall leads one straight through to the tasting room on one side and the outdoor terrace where fluffy big white couches and wooden plank tables under thin bamboo rods for shade are inviting in an understated and carefree “Club 55” kinda way. It’s a pleasant feel of natural and modern comfort with the big sky above.

The service was a little awkward; the staff are still trying to get a feel for how things should be managed (nothing was very smooth and check-in took a good 20 minutes). But the bedrooms are nicely spread out, two-in-one town house buildings with outdoor entries, views of the vineyards from every building. There are no elevators anywhere, but some disabled-friendly-access-rooms on the ground floor. The gardens are impressive with modern fountains, a massive dark grey pool with dark stone plage and black showers and stunning mediterranean plants, lavender, and tall standing grapevines that adorned a long pergola to walk through. It was very romantic. The establishment is still going through some teething problems, not unexpected, since it is big and will eventually be popular but I get the feeling they never want to get crowded.

I opted for a glass of champagne for an aperitif, some of their rosé (very nice) with our meal, and although a bit disappointed with the sushi (being half Japanese I’m a huge sushi snob as I make it myself) the steak was great and the desserts very good. The beds were very comfortable, the huge breakfast spread was A-class, they had fantastic coffee, and filtered and home-gassed water in pretty bottles was offered without ever suggesting brand names, this was a huge plus. Overall I give this establishment an 8 out of 10. When they get used to how to manage the place I’m sure they’ll be overwhelmed with bookings in the future. Ultimate Provence does have that uber-cool feel but it’s not for those looking for an authentic Provence village experience. Come to Cotignac for that!

Domaine Ultimate Provence Hotel-Restaurant and Bar: 7270 route du Luc 83630 La Garde-Freinet 0494 85 29 10 www.ultimate-provence.com or click here https://www.ultimateprovence.com/en/

Summer nights in Cotignac

It is dizzying how much goes on here in the Summer time; so much to do, so little time! Sometimes I wish I were on vacation here rather than living and working, sigh… But I try and get out as much as I can, not only to enjoy myself but also to bring you cool photos 😉

Earlier this month my husband and I had dinner in Lorgues and Saint Maximin and on a week-day evening both towns were “dead.” But not here in Cotignac. Almost every night of the Summer months there is some kind of entertainment and with it, many people who come here. Our population quadruples during the busy months, from 2, 300 to over 10,000! During the day you’ll see fruit, veg, and clothing markets or brocantes (antique markets) or boules (petanques) and at night there are concerts, outdoor movies, the restaurants are full of vacationers and it sometimes feels like one big street party particularly on weekends.

Last night (Friday the 17th August) I went out for some rosé and white wine at Chez Didier (Petit bar de vin de Didier) on the Cours and shared a huge platter of Spanish tapas (charcuterie hams, pickles, tortillas and such) with some friends before heading for the closing night of the Summer film festival at the Théâtre du Rocher. We thoroughly enjoyed the wine (Didier is always very knowledgeable about local wines and works hard to please his clientele), greedily downed all the tapas then rushed through the buzzing night market (even happening at the Place de la mairie with more entertainment there by bands) over to see Spike Lee’s latest movie “The Blackkklansmen.” What a great evening! I very much recommend the film, even though I am biased being an American.

At the bottom of the Cours, the now much-in-demand DJ AMAXXY was spinning his cool music too, so last night, basically everyone in the shopping/dining parts of the village were being entertained, it was truly formidable!

If you find yourself in our village and are looking for things to do, here are some suggestions: visit the Cotignac Museum on the rue St Joseph, go see the latest exhibition (the famous artist Arène is having a retrospective show until end of Sept 2018) at the Centre d’Art, check out the temporary expo at Cercle des Arts (next to the church), climb the rocher (if you feel fit enough), shop the shops, and have a nice lunch or dinner at any of the restaurants. Wanna go wine-tasting? Try Mirabeau Wine (and their gorgeous boutique) at number 5 Cours Gambetta, you can’t miss it. Market day is Tuesdays from 8am until 1pm. If you are not that hungry, you can always opt for a wine bar experience with tapas at chez Didier’s on the Cours, Nestuby Wine bar, or La Table des Coquelicots in the back. And of course there are non-alcoholic drinks as well.

The next night market will be held on the 22nd August, Wednesday. The next big event will take place on the evenings of the 24th, 25th, and 26th August when the big village festival descends upon us to remind the kids to enjoy one last hurrah before school starts again.

Cotignac Rosé Festival 2018, the photos!

At the third annual Cotignac Rosé Festival local producers (Nestuby, Caseneuve, Clos la Menardière, and the Vignerons de Cotignac) joined forces with Mirabeau-en-Provence for a sumptuous evening of music, dancing, food, and heaps of the finest rosé wine.  The first glass (imprinted in pink with “Cotignac Rosé Festival ’18”) becomes a collectible for just three euros and included a choice of wine.  Top ups cost just 2 euros, making this a very reasonable and convenient way to try the crème de la crème of Cotignac’s finest!

The crowd included locals and visitors, wine buffs and council members, and children too. There was a food truck serving burgers and fries, stands with local specialties like pissaladière, and the restaurants served themed menus and cuisine that went well, of course, with rosé. And the now very popular DJ Nick Boot spun out tunes from the 80s and 90s rock, pop, and disco, making the party atmosphere truly memorable.

There were volunteers too, that made the event one that brought out the true spirit of commaraderie and village unity!

The Rosé Festival aims to make the public more aware of the subtleties of fine rosé, a great deal more sophisticated (there really is an art skill devoted to creating them) than the more run of the mill and less refined rosés that are generally consumed by locals for daily consumption in boxes, for example. Provence rosés really are the best and continue to enjoy their popularity currently exploding and being enjoyed by exigent wine lovers all over the world.

For more information on the participants, check out their websites:

Mirabeau-en-Provence (in English and French): www.mirabeauwine.com

Vignerons de Cotignac (in French) : http://www.vigneronsdecotignac.com/

Clos la Minardière (in French): http://lamenardiere.com/

Domaine de Caseneuve (in French): https://www.vigneron-independant.com/domaine-de-caseneuve

L’Ecole du Sens (in French): https://www.terrisse.eu/

Stay tuned to Provence Living on Facebook (www.facebook.com/provenceliving) for information about the  next Cotignac Rosé Festival 2019!

 

 

Domaine Saint Andrieu

In Correns and tucked in between the borders of Ponteves and  Chateauvert,  is the 600-plus hectares of forest and vineyards belonging to the understated beauty and high quality wine domaine of Saint Andrieu.

The lovely Mme Susan Huet, the Sales and Marketing representative, gave us a little tour of the grounds (about 4 km drive from the centre of Correns) and best of all, tastings of their 2015 rosés, reds, and whites. Continue reading Domaine Saint Andrieu

My favourite things to do (by Susana)

I get a lot of questions particularly about restaurants and wine and what to do in the area so I thought I’d share my personal recommendations with you. These are a culmination of my many years of experience here and I do hope the information contributes towards either a better visiting or living experience for you. Any questions, please feel free to ask! – Susana 🙂

Continue reading My favourite things to do (by Susana)