Château Léoube

From the middle of October, if you’re out and about in shorts, or you’re seen surreptitiously sliding the lid aside to reach for a magnum, you’re classified as a little bit odd. Terms such as, ‘you’ll catch your death’ or ‘it’s hardly shorts weather’ are casually thrown around while people ponder if it’s too early to put the winter duvet on. So where does this autumnal weather, which so beautifully lends itself to jumpers, firesides and red wine, leave rosé ?

It’s a funny one really, and I think perhaps there are people who drink rosé all year round because that’s all they like so that’s all they drink. But the provincial pink promoters, who have spent their entire summer plastered in a haze of plaster pink enjoyment, tend to briefly opt for red instead. I recently did a survey on my wine Instagram page @winingawaytheweekend asking the followers whether they would still drink rosé in the winter. After a flurry of ‘No way rosé’ starting coming in I asked a second question; ‘Maniacs saying no way rosé, what are you drinking at après’ to which many remembered their rosé hangovers skiing and shudderingly voted ‘my bad, rosé.’ It ended up at around 70% in favour of a winter rosé and 30% decidedly against a chilled glass in the chill.

So why will we happily drink rosé on ze slopes but not so much in a cosy pub in the months of autumn and winter. Well, I think it’s just what we’re inclined to do. Red wine makes us feel cosy and warm whereas rosé is just dangerous. Another huge factor that I think contributes to the downfall of rosé come winter is sunshine and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Did you know you can buy a SAD lamp for near enough £90 and in return your mood, energy and focus is said to improve. I have decided instead to try a new tactic this winter, I’m going to light the fire, fake tan, put a bikini on, get my upcycled fur rug out that I made last year (humble brag) and lay in front of the fire, sipping on rosé until I am blue no more.

You don’t get a hangover if it’s organic…

It’s a well-known and completely solid fact that if a wine is deemed organic, you simply won’t get a hangover, even if you make the enormous mistake of opening a third bottle. It’s something to do with the lack of added chemicals and also guilt because organic wine actually helps the environment. This overall effect leaves you feeling refreshed and hydrated the next day and dare I say it, ‘with an enhanced mood, energy and focus.’

An organic rosé which has recently found its way into my life is from Château Léoube. I enjoy researching everything about a wine, from the owners of the vineyard and their hobbies to the artist behind the label design. When it came to Château Léoube I was intrigued to find out that it is owned by Lord and Lady Bamford. You may already know this but Lord Bamford is the Chairman of JCB and his fantastic wife of 45 years is the brain and beauty behind the Cotswold phenomenon, Daylesford Organic. (They do a lot more than this, they truly are fascinating, but for the sake of sanity that’s all we’re going to focus on for now.)

It was back in 1997 that the Bamford’s acquired the estate. They were reportedly looking for a idyllic property by the sea when they landed in this beautiful and ancient Provençal estate of 560 hectares along the Côte d’Azur. I’m sure Lord Bamford initially just wanted somewhere to escape to that wasn’t too far from the UK but his business radar started to detect an opportunity and although grapes hadn’t been grown on the estate since the Roman era, they got to work.

I’m sure owning JCB has to come in fairly handy when you’re in need of machinery to transform an estate and this combined with Lady Bamford’s passion for organic and sustainable farming led the Bamford’s to sensitively restore the all important soils of Château Léoube. The project is thankfully recorded on Provence Wine Zine in detail, a fantastic website with exceptionally written content:

“From roughly 2000 to 2008, work focused on rebuilding the vineyards, fortifying good vines and removing poor quality vines. Preparing soil and (re)creating terraces to ensure proper drainage and exposure entailed a conscientious attention to detail and perseverance for which only the most ardent have the patience. Work also commenced in the winery to completely renovate it and install state-of-the-art equipment. In the meantime, only small quantities of wine were produced, sold in bulk for local consumption.

In 2008, eleven years from the time the Bamfords purchased the property, the inaugural bottling of wine worthy of the Bamford-Ott legacy and Léoube label finally occurred.

Jérôme Pernot, Export Director at Château Léoube, emphasized that nothing was rushed in the early days of rebuilding the vineyards (and this is still very much the case today).  “A huge investment of time is made [because] in the long run, the vines will produce much better grapes for a longer time,” Pernot said.  When I toured the property in July 2015, Pernot identified vineyards undergoing reconstruction and explained that preparing the soil takes about five years after which time grapes are harvested for three to five years to create compost and make bulk wine. It can take ten years from the time work on the land commences until the new vines begin to provide grapes that will make wine worthy of the Château Léoube label.”

https://www.provencewinezine.com/romaine-ott-blazes-new-paths-chateau-leoube-vineyards-cab-franc-growing-provence/

If you’re interested to read more into the present and past state of the Château, I have really enjoyed reading all about it on Provence Winezine, click here to be taken directly to the page.

The relationship they refer to, Bamford-Ott, is a beautiful thing. This happy coincidence has meant Château Léoube has been guided by Romain Ott’s expertise almost from the very beginning. Their wines are now created alongside nature, passion and Romain Ott, a man who is said to bring the magic to their wine. He is also behind the olive oil, of course.

The beautiful wines…

CHÂTEAU LÉOUBE ROSÉ £17.49 from Daylesford Organic
A blend of Grenache and Cinsault, completed by a touch of Syrah and Mourvèdre.

Very fresh on the nose, clean, gooseberry, strawberry, white peach notes. Almost creamy on the palate. Crisp but with a lot of minerality. More raspberry than strawberry, very refined, delicious. No kick back at all, really very smooth.

CHÂTEAU LÉOUBE SECRET ROSÉ £30.00 from Daylesford Organic
“An extra dose of Cabernet Sauvignon lending polished yet powerful tones…”

This wine I think was created with food in mind. It has won a gold medal in the World Rose Awards and continues to receive wonderful reviews. This would pair brilliantly with a range of dishes from salmon to Nigella’s lamb recipe. Similar notes to their original rose but with some pear in there too, very delicate aromas. Creamy on the palate again but with some more texture and length this time. Lovely freshness, reminds me of my favourite scents – pink pepperpod, quite herby really and roses, divine.

SPARKLING DE LÉOUBE ROSÉ £35 from Daylesford Organic
“Very few sparkling roses are made in Provence, so this is an interesting and highly promising initiative.”

What a pretty wine in a pretty bottle. I love that they’ve gone the extra mile with the packaging to give this extraordinary wine the attention it deserves. It’s a beautiful colour. I took it to a BYO restaurant called The Cow Shed where I had it with a starter of Scallops, it was perfect, I was sad to share it. I think when I order it again I will drink it with pudding. Very subtle aromas of strawberry and peaches. Really delicate but dry when you taste it, light and fresh, a little bit creamy. I really enjoyed it.

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