Meetup at our home + French Sloppy Joes (A Sicilian-inspired recipe)
Porquerolles sea-hunting trip + My husband's creative (and quirky) side

Décontracté at Chateau de Pibarnon: a visual report

Chateau de Pibarnon countryside
Yesterday we spent a relaxing day at one of the most prestigious vineyards in Provence: Chateau de Pibarnon. Listen to the previous sentence in French, just below, and don't miss the entire post and photos. First, today's word:


relaxed, calm, serene

Click the following link to listen to the French sentence (English version above)

Hier nous avons passé une journée décontractée dans un des plus prestigieux domaines viticoles de Provence, Le Château de Pibarnon


by Kristi Espinasse

Thanks to our friends at French Country Wines, and to my husband, Jean-Marc, who harvested there a few years ago, we were invited back to Château de Pibarnon for an unforgettable lunch with a most gracious, charming, and witty host, Eric De Saint Victor.

Our friends Bruce, Hilary, Geneviève and Jean-Philippe, who you may remember lounging on the beach Cassis, joined us here at Mas de Brun, where we began our convoy toward Bandol, up the steep and winding road to one of the most famous Southern French vineyards. We were about to, as Geneviève said, experience an "eonological and gastronomical blast, thanks to Eric De Saint Victor..."

Entrance to Chateau Pibarnon photos c Genevieve Guy

I will tell you about that gastronomical part in a minute, for now, here are some scenes from the wine-tasting. On the way in, olive, cypress, and mulberry trees line the chateau entrance, with its iron gates and stone murette. Photo by Geneviève Guy of Bistro Provence

Chateau de Pibarnon facade

A peek at the chateau. To the lower right, the wine-tasting entrance is located just in front of a shady mulberry. Open to all, the tasting room hours are Monday-Saturday, 9-12pm and again at 2:30 to 6pm.

Wine barrels Eric de Saint Victor and our group at Chateau de Pibarnon photo Genevieve Guy
Kristi, Hilary, Jean-Marc, Eric, Bruce, and Jean-Philippe in the chai , or wine storehouse, at Chateau de Pibarnon. Here, Eric gave the wine-tasters a wonderful tip to bring with you when you visit any vineyard: There will be various barrels or containers of wine, but ask to taste the press of all the blended grape skins, for this is where the socle (he compares it to a boat's cradle) or the soul of the wine is found. Photo by Geneviève Guy

Marie Genevieve Pauline
Among the wonderful strong female characters I know (like Cécile--ma frangine), here are three favorites: Winemaker Marie Laroze, Geneviève and her daughter, Pauline. Jean-Marc introduced me to Marie a few years ago, for our common interest in permaculture and natural farming & gardening. Jean-Marc tells me these natural principals are expressed in the way Marie makes wine.

Nathan Kristi Pauline Jean-Philippe Hilary in the tasting room at Chateau de Pibarnon
Back in the tasting room, just before Nathan and Pauline left us to spend the rest of the afternoon poolside, where Eric's family took the kids under their wings, and fed them pizza and ice-cream.

Genevieve and Jean-Philippe at Chateau de Pibarnon with fleurs de courgettes
Geneviève of Bistro Provence, Houston, and Jean-Philippe, of French Country wines in Houston. After the cellar visit we were treated to hors-d'oeuvres on the terrace overlooking the sea. You can see a short video here. Our host, Eric, created a seasonal menu with local ingredients. These cheese-stuffed zucchini flowers were a hit. The fleur de sel was the finishing touch. Next, came the delicious anchoiade, which Eric made, he says, by crushing some anchovies and...I didn't hear the rest of the recipe (while so enraptured in the experience and the wonderful tastes...)

  Ann-Laure Chateau de Pibarnon
Charming Provencal terrace and the lovely, Anne-Laure, in charge of the château's events (see about the weekly evening tasting, at the end of this post).

Around the table photo c Genevieve Guy

Sitting around the family table, we were catered to by a true gentleman. Though his family is noble, Eric is as down-to-earth as the ingredients he collects from his Mediterranean surroundings--or at the local supermarket, where you can sometimes find him sprinting through for a forgotten item (anchovies? fleur de sel?). 

Eric de Saint Victor

In the kitchen. Excuse the blurry photo, but it captures Eric's spirit.

He is a most attentive and witty host, who tells colorful stories (you should hear how he got this giant fish from a certain kissy-faced fishmonger, Bertha, at the port (she encouraged a puckered recompense after procuring a rare daurade of this size!). His story rivals the famous one about the sardine that blocked the port of Marseilles). As Eric shared his stories and we shared ours back he poured his world-famous Bandol wine and maintained his place, according to Le Figaro, as the world's ambassador for the mourvèdre grape.

Looking around the table, our friends were more that satiated, they were dreamy-eyed. Finally, Hilary's husband, Bruce (opposite Eric in the photo, above), put into words what all of us were thinking: Could I please move into just a tiny corner of this beautiful place? Eric could just toss me a scrap of bread every once in a while. As long as as he pours a little of his wine to go with it!

la murette = little wall
fleur de sel = "flower of salt", highest quality sea salt
anchoïade (m) = anchovy dip for vegetables
la daurade = sea bream
la récompense = reward

If you have yet to discover Château de Pibarnon wine, you need to taste it to understand what Bruce is talking about. While we were very lucky to be Eric's guests, the good news is you are all welcome to visit the domain. Put it on your To Do list next time you are in Provence. And note that every Thursday night, July - August, they welcome you at the top of the vineyard....

Le Pi-Bar Ephemere

Dog at Chateau de Pibarnon
Vineyard dog, Darius.

French Country Cooking: Meals and Moments from a village in the vineyards
Eiffel Tower Dog or Cat bed, click here.
CARON PARIS Fleur de Rocaille - a classic French scent

Kristin Espinasse Chateau de Pibarnon

In my previous post about Château de Pibarnon I told you about a slight mishap during dessert. (Thank you, Anne-Laure, for the photo)

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety