Domaines Ott* Wine and Architecture at Château de Selle
Modern Wine and Architecture
In 2004, Champagne Louis Roederer acquired a majority share in Les Domaines Ott*. Cousins and the fourth generation in a family of winemakers Christian et Jean-François Ott remain intimately involved as directors in the operations at the vineyards supported by a team of oenologists. The Champagne Louis Roederer group shares the same philosophy as the Ott family of high-quality wine production, a long-term outlook, and respect for the terroir.
The ageing wine processing and storage facilities at Château de Selle required modernization to continue evolving their production of superior wines. Paris architect Carl Fredik Svenstedt was tasked to execute the vision for Domaines Ott*, design a functional building that would satisfy the requirements for a visitor’s centre, wine storage, and house the state-of-the-art equipment for winemaking.
Embedded into a hillside on the Château de Selle estate, only a portion of the new facility is visible, with a level of the production process accommodated below ground. This multi-levelled structure permits the use of gravity fed vinicultural techniques. Constructed with massive one-ton blocks of stone piled ten metres high the new facility communicates longevity. The choice of design material acknowledges the Roman past in the area and their heavy usage of quarried stone for construction projects. An original pattern of stone stacking created a perforated screen, allowing for light transfer and reduction of the visual mass of the building. Discover the architectural details of this new facility at Château de Selle in this article by Dezeen.
Château de Selle Wine History
The vineyard was the first of three acquired by Christian et Jean-François Ott’s great-grandfather Marcel Ott in 1912. This graduate of agronomy engineering from Alsace looked for vineyard properties throughout France. He finally settled on land deep in the Var.
Château de Selle is not far from the Côte d’Azur, but Taradeau, near Draguignan, might well be considered “arrière pays” (backcountry) Provence. He chose land that he could afford in a region where existing vines had suffered from phylloxera. He did not buy a vineyard, Château de Selle was a slightly rundown hameau (hamlet) where the principal activity had been silkworm breeding (magnanerie). Marcel Ott understood that if the gypsum-clay-sandstone soil was suitable for wild lavender, mulberry and olive trees it would also be the right combination for growing grapevines. Perhaps fortified by the fact that the Cistercian monks at nearby Thoronet Abbey also grew grapes, he bet on the sheltered inland location and its well-draining earth. Much sweat equity and four generations later Château de Selle is recognized for its elegant red and rosé wines from AOC Côtes de Provence.
Domaines Ott* Estates
“Three Estates, two appellations, one passion for wine.”
Determined to make quality wine Marcel Ott did not stop at one vineyard. In the 1930s, he purchased an old property right on the Mediterranean coast. Clos Mireille located near to La Londe Les Maures enjoys sea views and breezes. The vines were replanted and fostered ever since. The average age of the grapevines at Clos Mireille is sixteen years old. This vineyard falls within the geography of AOC Côtes de Provence and produces excellent rosé and a blanc de blancs.
Château Romassan, the third vineyard in the Domaines Ott* collection, was added in 1956 after Marcel Ott had passed on and his son René had assumed the responsibilities. It took some 30 years before the wines from this 74-hectare estate developed the characteristics of wine typical of the AOC Bandol. The production from Château Romassan is rosé and red with mourvèdre as one of the principal grapes.
“At Domaines Ott*, it takes nature one hundred days and four lunar cycles to produce a wine.”
The three estates are entirely different regarding location, soil composition and grape varietals. However, the Ott family philosophy is a common thread across the entire operation. The vineyards are not certified organic (at this stage); however, bio-dynamic principals inspire the growing practices. The soil is never treated with chemicals. Any vine diseases are handled with natural products (sulphur and Bordeaux mixture) suitable for organic farming. Vines are rotated and replanted as they begin to age, and only all-natural organic fertilizers are used at the vineyards.
The three Domaines Ott* vineyards also share the “Cœur de Grain.” Only the rosé wine considered as the true expression of the winemaker’s talent fills this specially shaped bottle. In 1930, René Ott (Marcel’s son) envisioned a bottle that was atypical, recognizable and representative of the beauty of Provence. The unique bottle shaped like an ancient amphora, inspired by slender Cypress trees is almost too pretty to open.
Image credits: Photos provided by and published with the permission of Les Domaines Ott*