Thanks to a neighbourly phone call from our fellow traveller ‘Haggie’ - to the American owner Tom Bove, we made our way to Château Miraval, which is located in the heart of the Coteaux Varois; the site first inhabited in pre-Roman times, and is one of the most beautiful historic domaines of Provence.
With traditional wine-making equipment and a passion for excellence at every stage of production Château Miraval has certified organic vineyards in the adjoining communes of Correns and Chateauvert and produces wines under two appellations, AOC Côtes de Provence and AOC Côteaux Varois.
After you drive down a long winding lane through woods and vineyards with dramatic glimpses of the distant ‘Gros Bésillon’ mountain through the trees, you are greeted by kilometres on winding roman terraces that give a backdrop to the château, which is built in a modest classic style, with over thirty rooms. It is also set amongst beautiful gardens with a moat and fountains and a chapel, and recently planted olive groves of thirteen varieties and all surrounded by woodlands of evergreen and white oak, Stone Pine, Aleppo Pine and Maritime Pine.
A previous owner, the French jazz pianist Jacques Loussier, built a recording studio at the back of the château: people like Sting recorded here, as did the Cranberries, Elton John, Queen to name a few and even Pink Floyd laid down tracks for ‘The Wall’ album, released in 1979. Its more recent owner, Tom Bove, who bought the domaine in 1993, has been producing simple ‘vin de pays’ wines, and has added a spa, two gyms and an indoor pool.
The château is known for its wines, white wines under the Coteaux Varois appellation and red, white and rosé wine under the Côtes de Provence appellation. The domaine consists of 400 hectares of which approx 30 hectares on the valley floor are devoted to vines.
Tom took us on a tour of the property - while grapes were coming in from the season’s harvest. The immense wine cellar of Miraval was built in 1850 by Joseph Lombot, the inventor of reinforced concrete, who owned the nearby domaine of La Celle - a unique living history that you could taste on the air.
We ended our visit with a tasting of Tom’s current vintages of white, red wines - and of course his rosé wine, which regularly wins gold. As a farewell gift Tom gave us a magnum of a special anniversary vintage of his Rosé, to remember our visit by - which I'm sure I always will, but another personal memory to add to so many - I had to pinch myself on several occasions to believe that we were actually here on a stunning Provençal day.