Guest PostTasteWines and Spirits of Provence

Wines of Provence Attracting Big Names and Big Bucks

The winery Château d’Esclans in the Esclans Valley north of Le Muy has had a strong ownership journey, to say the least. Thirty years ago, the winery was owned by the Swedish Match pension fund, with Lars Torstenson as the responsible winemaker, and since 2019 the winery is owned by the world’s richest man, Bernard Arnault!

Provence is starting to be like Champagne, where large wineries buy grapes to make wine according to their own “recipe,” but as in Champagne, you find the most interesting and most affordable wines from the small family-owned producers. The trend of large wineries in Provence has unfortunately accelerated.

Wines of Provence

Several of the family-owned wineries are very concerned about the development as it drives up vineyard prices, a threefold increase in 10 years. The increase in prices combined with the cumbersome French inheritance rules makes it financially difficult to keep vineyards within the family during inheritance.

So, in typical French fashion, they staged a wild illegal protest targeting Château d’Esclans last August. The action was led by the agricultural union (Confédération Paysanne du Var), and under the supervision of gendarmes and security guards, 300 people harvested a ton of Château d’Esclan’s Grenache grapes which were then pressed in front of the Esclans winery. Continue reading here for more details on consolidating vineyard ownership in Provence.

Late in 2019, it was announced that LVMH bought a 55% stake in Château d’Esclans. In a joint statement, it was declared that Sacha Lichine will run the estate in partnership with Moët Hennessy and that they plan to expand the vineyard by another 60 hectares. On our visit in February this year, it was confirmed that Sacha was still in charge of ensuring quality.

Read more on the big names and big bucks in this article on Billionaire Rosé.

Guest Writer:

Göran Boman, the author of The Wines of Provence – Tricolour, is based in Sweden, far from Provence’s vineyards. His studies at Stockholm’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology led to a career with large international companies. Before retiring, Göran monitored the quality of nuclear fuel transmitted from EDF France to Sweden.

About 25 years ago, he joined Munskänkarna (“Cup-bearers”) for wine tastings and education. The association is the world’s largest non-commercial wine-tasting group with 30,000 members, mainly in Sweden and Provence.

If you love Provencal wines, then his book should be essential reading for you. In his book, Göran Boman covers 58 wine producers and recommends 338 wines, not just rosé wines. Use the book as a guide to discovering these wines and their producers. His goal is to deepen your knowledge of everything worth knowing about the wines of Provence.

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