A chance to visit one of our producers is always high on our agenda and after the huge popularity of the Chateau Maravenne wines so far this Summer we decided it was about time we visited the owner and winemaker Alexandre at the Estate.
Luckily Flybe run flights during the Summer months from Southampton down to Toulon which is only about 20 minute drive from the Estate.
Alexandre Audinet purchased Chateau Maravenne four years ago after what sounds like an interesting career history taking him from retail, advertising, printing and sailing! The Estate covers 75 hectares, of which 30 hectares are AOP Cotes de Provence and the rest is forest and olive groves and also a plot with some lovely gites and pool among the vineyards.
Chateau Maravenne was founded just before the second world war, but the Venturini-Audinet family took over in October 2013. All the vineyards are farmed organically, and all winery production also follows organic production and are certified by Ecocert. Although Alexandre is relatively new to winemaking, he has a vineyard manager and winemaker that work with him to create the wines. Their joint aim is to make some of the best Provence wines and promote the exceptional terroir that is La Londe Les Maures. Alex is also a firm believer in low use of sulphur in winemaking.
The Estate produces mainly rosé wines but they also produce some stunning white wines made from Rolle (or Vermentino) which makes up just 15% of production and therefore demand exceeds supply and some red wines. We are lucky to have a small parcel of the Colleccion Privée Blanc, a wine for fine seafood dishes and enjoying with friends.
The winery is modern with lots of stainless steel tanks to vinify each plot on the estate separately, and also some old oak barrels for the red cuvées and Donum Dei Blanc. A recent investment in a top of the range picking machine Alex explained has insured picking quickly and in most cases picking better than by hand. Harvesting is done at night to retain as much freshness in the grapes as possible, some plots are harvested by hand. Interestingly Maravenne also have a bottling line, which allows them to bottle throughout the year which also allows the wine to reach the end customer in the freshest state possible.
After a really fun drive around the vineyards in Alex’s open top jeep we ended up at the tasting room. All of the wines show the dedication that go into growing the grapes and the careful production methods, below are my tasting notes.
Chateau Maravenne ‘Les Roches’ Cotes de Provence, 2016
Named after the small stones in the vineyard ‘les roches’, this wine is the first in their line up of rosé wines. All methods for production follow organic methods but this cuvée is not certified until next vintage 2018. It is the lightest and simplest of them all, but is really refreshing with citrus, pear and a hint of raspberry fruit, it is the perfect lunchtime rosé or to go with light salad dishes but I also love this wine as an aperitif.
Chateau Maravenne Grande Reserve, 2016
Organically certified, this wine has a very appealing nose, with more exotic notes than the previous. Hints of passionfruit and mango mingle with morello cherry and the mouth texture is slightly rounder and creamier. Very feminine with a long finish.
Chateau Maravenne Donum Dei, 2016
A site specific wine that has real finesse and could rival any top end rosé. The fruit for this wine comes from the best sites on the estate and you can tell on tasting that is is really complex with citrus fruit, exotic notes and raspberry that finishes on a long mineral finish.
Chateau Maravenne Privée Blanc, 2016
100% Rolle that has a beautifully aromatic palette of hawthorn, acacia, almond and citrus. On tasting it reveals peach and pear fruit. An outstanding white wine that is made in very limited quantities.
Donum Dei Blanc, 2016
More intense nose than the privée blanc, the wine spends time in oak barrel (although none will be used in 2017). Tropical fruit of mango, pineapple and apricot. We were told the wine goes really well with paté, foie gras or smoked fish.
Chateau Maravenne Rouge, 2014
Although Provence is known for its rosé wines, I really like the reds and they work particularly well with Provence style food such as ratatouille, grilled lamb and bbq food. This is an unoaked Cuvée and is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Richly fruit with cassis fruit and a touch of black olive and garrigue. This could cellar for a good 5-10 years for the flavours to integrate and mellow.
Donum Dei Rouge, 2014
My favourite red is a blend of Syrah and Cabernet. Rich dark fruit, mocha, cracked black pepper, chocolate and a touch of red fruit as well. Really well balanced oak and fruit and a long finish. I hope to get this in next year!
We were so pleased to have gone down to Provence, even for just 24hrs to sample a real flavour for the area and particularly the Maravenne wines. Alex ended the tasting saying he didn’t really want to sell any of his wines to us as demand exceeds supply, but due to our insistence he is now happy to be selling his wines to us and into the UK market. Hopefully production will increase a little over the next year and there will be more wines for him to sell, but for now we are really excited to have these exclusive wines in our shop and for you all to enjoy as much as we have.