When we think of rose’ (and on these hot summer days I know I do), odds are Provence comes to mind and with good reason. This area in Southeast France has been producing rose’ in one form or another for around 2000 years. Rose’ has become wildly popular recently (particularly on the United States) thanks in no small part to the wine drinking world’s positive reception to the delicate, salmon pink-colored dry rose’ produced in Provence and made primarily from a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault. Provence is home to a number of notable rose’ producing vineyards (rose’ accounts for 90% of the area’s wine production), including Château de Berne in Lorgues, Château des Bertrands and Château Saint Roux in Cannet-des-Maures, and Ultimate Provence in La Garde-Freinet.
1776 was a notable year for both Americans and Château de Berne. While Americans celebrated the birth of their nation, Château de Berne started making wine. ( The chateau was renovated in 1995 and is now an oenophile’s top stop on the Provence wine trail.)
Château de Berne enjoys prime conditions for producing wine. The vineyard is located on clay and limestone-rich soil that enables the terroir to retain adequate moisture while minimizing oversaturation. The area also receives ample sunlight and moderate annual rainfall. The Mistral also helps to stabilize temperatures.
Château de Berne is in the process of converting to organic methods of winemaking and presently, no chemicals are used in the making of its wines. The vineyard merges traditional practices with modern methods to produce wines that reflect the best qualities of their grapes. Each vine is equipped with a sensor that measures the temperature, and the amount of sunlight and moisture it is receiving, so that modifications can be made when necessary to maintain the freshness of the vine and the grapes it yields. Nighttime harvesting also helps to preserve the freshness of the grapes before they are pressed, undergo maceration for 2-3 hours (resulting in the wine’s characteristic deep salmon pink hue), and fermented in stainless steel tanks. Now onto the wines.
They say it’s what’s on the inside that counts but a distinctive bottle shape doesn’t hurt either. It is hard to miss the Château de Berne, Inspiration and the Château de Berne, Estate on the shelves of any wine store. Both the Château de Berne, Inspiration and the Château de Berne, Estate, are square in shape, molded after the Château’s watchtower. However, the Château de Berne, Estate is a bit taller and heavier, reflecting perhaps the greater weight of the flavor elements of the wine itself.
The Château de Berne, Romance is characterized by floral and strawberry and raspberry aromas, and fresh orchard fruit, berry and cream notes. It is fun and lively and a perfect spring or summer apertif.
The crisp Château de Berne, Inspiration is marked by bright strawberry and floral aromas, berry, lavender and herbaceous notes, as well as considerable minerality and a measure of salinity. This wine works well with lighter fare including raw or simply prepared seafood, savory and buttered breads, and baked or grilled poultry.
The Château de Berne, Estate, characterized by ripe cherry, raspberry and floral aromas, rich strawberry, berry and cool herbaceous notes, and balanced minerality has considerable complexity thanks in part to 20% of it having been aged in French oak for 4 months. The grapes are selected from Château de Berne’s oldest vines giving the wine both weight and substance. The Château de Berne, Estate is best enjoyed with food and pairs well with cheese and charcuterie, roasted game and a variety of pastas. The wine will evolve over time so keep it for a little while and watch the flavors intensify!