Virginia Woolf and the white wines of Cassis2019/7/24


“I guess it was the thought of Virginia Woolf writing To The Lighthouse while smoking cigars and knocking back a few glasses of Cassis white that stuck in my mind.

It meant that when I first visited the vineyards of Cassis in Provence back in 1999, in a tiny rental car whose handbrake kept failing to master the steeply-sloped landscape, Château de Fontcreuse was pretty much my first stop.

I was determined to locate the site of a tiny cottage on its grounds that the Bloomsbury Set used to rent over long summers, and where Woolf wrote parts of both To The Lighthouse and The Waves (she wrote in her diary in June 1927 that she was working on her novel in the evenings, ‘near the sea, a garden under the window, when the gramophone is playing late sonatas’).


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I didn’t realise then just what an exception Cassis white wines are.

Provence, it seems dumb to point out now, is the land of rosé. This is not an exaggeration. It’s swimming in the stuff. A full 87% of all wine made in the region is pink, with 141 million bottles this year alone, around 35% of France’s entire production.

It’s these statistics that makes the salt-stung air of Cassis so unusual. Built along a series of rocky limestone inlets known as Les Calanques, the tiny fishing village of Cassis is 20km down the coast from Marseille, at the far corner of Provence.

And like all of Provence, they make wine here, even if on a smaller scale than many of the inland sectors of the region. It’s an appellation with just 12 winemakers and 215 hectares, and was one of the first AOCs to be created in France back in 1936, along with Sauternes and Châteauneuf du Pape.

And unlike the rest of Provence, rosé takes a back seat – 71% of the production is based on blends of the white grapes of Marsanne and Clairette, with varying accompaniments of Ugni Blanc, Terret Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Bourboulenc.




They are perfect as summer softens into autumn and their richly striking collision of citrus, wild herb and saline flavours make for a perfect accompaniment to butternut squash risottos, wild mushroom tarts, smoked fishes.”
Jane Anson

Read more at : https://www.decanter.com/…/cassis-white-wines-provence-37…/…


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