Domaine Saint Joseph a Grape island in the Alps mountains.
Updated: May 18, 2020
Grape Tours in Provence presented you in a previous post the AOC Côtes-de-Provence which is the largest AOC in Provence with its 4 delimited geographical areas and its 18 Châteaux Crus Classés. But this AOC also has another particularity: a singular vineyard, more exactly a satellite domain, an island in another department (similar to a county) than its main one named Var, therefore more than 50 miles east of its"mainland". This vineyard is the Clos Saint Joseph in the tiny medieval village of Villars sur Var, with its 800 inhabitants in the Alpes-Maritimes. In fact, an hour's drive from Nice on the road to the ski resorts in the hollow of the Var valley in its narrowest part, this area offers itself in the sun like an amphitheater of vineyard. Clos Saint Joseph has been exploited since the end of the 19th century by the Sassi family: today by Roch Sassi and Constance Malengé. Exposed to an Alpine and Mediterranean climate with a soil composed of rocky marl, this 15 acres vineyard usually allows a production of 20,000 bottles, mainly in red (60%), with also white 30% and in the end singularly only 10% rosé (compared to 90% for its Designation of Origin). Unfortunately it has been strongly impacted by hail in recent years (2017, 2018). This vineyard is biodynamically managed and is planted with Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache, a little Cabernet-Sauvignon for the red and Rolle, Sémillon and Ugni-blanc for the white. Note also that in this village of Villars sur Var, the production of olive oil has resumed since 2013 after a 42-year hiatus (!!!) thanks to the association "Terra Villarenc" which provided a new olive oil press (moulin à huile in French). Thus this small village in the Alpes-Maritime, Villars sur Var is a perfect image of the French cultural exception and its complexity, but also of the possibility of peasant revival in a sick globalized world.