Yesterday, we visited Chateau La Mascaronne. The estate, acquired by an American, Tom Bove, in 1999, extends over 100 hectares at the exit of the village of Luc, of which 45 hectares of vines are planted in hills and classified in the appellation Côtes de Provence. Careful to respect the typicity of the terroir, the estate offers two ranges .... The wines, resulting from organic farming, are regularly rewarded and have won the confidence of beautiful tables in France and abroad. Listen to the previous sentence in French....
: to extend, spread, expand
Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the following sentence in French:
Le domaine, acquis par un américain, Tom Bove, en 1999, s'étend sur 100 hectares à la sortie du village du Luc, dont 45 hectares de vignes plantées en coteaux et classées dans l'appellation Côtes de Provence. Soucieux de respecter la typicité du terroir, le domaine propose deux gammes....Les vins, issus de l'agriculture biologique, sont régulièrement récompensés et ont gagné la confiance de belles tables en France et à l'étranger. -Petit Futé travel guide
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
Along with our friends Tim and Phyllis of French Country Wines, we spent a tantalizing afternoon at Château La Mascaronne. Tom Bove, the owner, sold his previous chateau and winery to Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Now that I've got your attention we can go about our challenge of describing what it's like to spend time with one of the most engaging characters in Provence's iconic wine culture.
I feel gaga driving up the kilometers-long road to Tom's home. I'm not the only one. When we arrive, all four of us can't figure out which way to Tom's front door--on an as-yet unpainted 19th-century farmhouse. But don't let the lack of chaux color your first impression of Tom. He's got his entire act together, exquisitely so, right down to the last drop in his sparkling Solé. (He also bottles water. It's so good I've asked Jean-Marc for a case of Solé for my 50th birthday. Because I can't ask for wine. That doesn't mean I could not smell it yesterday--along with the mouthwatering aromas wafting up from la soupe de bettrave that Sally, who shares Tom's life, made us.)
"You didn't mention the new road up to the winery..." Tom says, as Jean-Marc, Tim, Phyllis and I are being hugged by the giant pillows on roomy rattan chairs avec accoudoirs.
Looking around the patio, where sculpted, patina'd statues seem to hold up the wooden beams above us," our host's down-to-earth question brings us out of our daze.
Funny he would mention a newly paved road when so many other details of this beautiful winery tangled up our attention. "Oh! That road! Wow, that road!" I stuttered. But there is no need to feel like a groupie around Tom. It wasn't he who recorded Stairway To Heaven on the grounds of his previous chateau. But it was Tom who constructed those stairs, or terraces to hold a variety of celestial-bound grapes.
If Tom Bove's grapes aren't really bound for heaven, our tastebuds may be. I listen to my tablemates savoring wine from La Mascaronne as we move on to le plat principal. Sally has made cabillaud on a bed of market fresh carrots and zucchini. The red and green peppers she's tossed on top are as spicy as her personality (I would add sexy, but it would be more cautious to describe her as Rock-n-roll, as I did to my sister over the phone--sharing every juicy detail.)
"Let me see a picture of all these rock-n-roll people," Heidi challenged, as she did when I used to steal her vinyls, including Pink Floyd (there's the band I was looking for earlier, when confusing Stairway to Heaven to other songs recorded at Studio Miraval...) and just like back then, I made my sister wait until today to see the evidence of rock stars....
Rock Star Sally, center, Rock Star Phyllis, right, and Rock Star Fanny, left. Fanny's worked with Tom forever and was once sweet-talked by Jean-Marc into passing Angelina Jolie a copy of Words in a French Life. But if Fanny is Rock-n-roll, she is also classy, and I trust she figured out what to do with the book. I hope she put it in the W.-C. ...because if Mrs Jolie-Pitt didn't ever see the book, then chateau guests might!
Next came dessert, a kind of Provençal strawberry shortcake with crushed pistachios on top. During the hour-long ride home, we tried to describe it, and all that wine...La Mascaronne, Mira Luna and a few others. But I'm going to be a bratty little sister, and make you wait for the wine write up, by Jean-Marc, coming this Saturday. Meantime do not miss Robert Camuto's profile on Tom Bove, in his Wine Spectator piece Repair Man: After Miraval, and American in Provence continues his renovation spree.
* * *
Jean-Marc, Tom Bove, and Tim Smith of French Country Wines.
"Rosé is the most difficult wine to make good." --Tom Bove
Listening to Tom Bové talk about rosé. Notice his Solé sparkling water. I sure hope Jean-Marc notices it and remembers my birthday hint.
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