I won’t deny it. This wine is a pure self indulgent import each year and for those of you lucky enough to have visited the charming seaside village of Cassis will perhaps understand why. Unlike so many of Provence’s iconic towns dotted along the Cote d’Azur Cassis is relatively small, quaint if you will. Construction is restricted due to the village being surrounded by hills & adjacent to Calanques National Park.
Cassis of course shares the name with the sweet blackcurrant liqour we know so well for the beloved Kir Royal however the AOP of Cassis lies in the South of France just 20km East of Marseille and is famous for it’s saline whites and charming rose.
90% of the production of the AOP of Cassis (of which their are only a dozen or so wineries) is sold to local restaurants and towns over the summer holiday period. I had to visit 3 times over 3 years to convince the charming owner of Domaine de Bagnol to see me just a handful of cases.
Interesting fact on Cassis. It was one of France’s first AOC’s awarded in 1936, along with CNDP, Arbois, Tavel and Monbazillac.
From the motorway it take’s seemingly forever to wind down the two lane road as it weaves and descends down through the hills that create both mesoclimates and an amazing backdrop to the village itself. The best estates such as Clos Sainte-Magdeleine and Domaine du Bagnol have vineyards just a few meters from the Mediterranean. In the distance is the Cap Canaille, an imposing limestone outcrop and a wonderful spot to view the village.
Cassis benefits from clay limestone soils, amazing luminosity/brightness and cooling breezes from both the north (Mistral) and the evening breeze straight off Cassis cove from the ocean moderating the warmer climate and ensuring freshness/acidity in the grapes. Think classic Provence with white limestone earth dotted with garrigue.
The locals and people in the ‘know’ often wax lyrically about Cassis Blanc than Rose from the village unlike the rest of Provence, often proclaiming the salt spray from ocean adds a salinity to the white rarely found elsewhere. It is true that some of the vineyards of Bagnol are 500 meters from the cove but I suspect this is a little more romance than reality as I feel it the Limestone soils that impart the minerality, but the story is a charming one.
The Rosé is produced from several parcels that comprise slightly less than 7 hectares of vineyards. The vineyards are clay and limestone, situated on a gentle slope with a north – northwest exposure. The blend is Grenache (55%), Mourvedre (31%) and Cinsault (14%). So much of this wine is consumed simply in the village every year so we are always happy to be able to import this parcel each year.
Marsanne, Clairette, & Ugni Blanc. (51%) is the dominant grape variety complemented by Clairette Blanc (31%) and some Ugni Blanc (18%). The vineyards to produce the white wine at Bagnol cover a bit less than 9 hectares and are planted on a gentle slope of clay and limestone soil with a north – northwest exposure. After a manual harvest, the grapes are destemmed and pressed; the fermentation continues for three weeks in cement cuves. The malo-lactic fermentation is blocked to preserve the freshness of the wine.