In advance of a trip to Provence in September of 2020, we were fortunate to be introduced to Chateau Les Mesclances by Etienne Portalis, who currently helms the singular Chateau Pradeaux in Bandol. The timing was ideal, as we look to develop a new direction for our selections in Provence. The approach to the estate, situated a mere three kilometers from the Mediterranean in the commune of La Crau, is at once peaceful and dramatic. The contiguous 30 hectares of organically-farmed vineyards surrounded by forest, two streams (Mesclances is dialect for the confluence of rivers) and a gentle slope to the north lead up to the classic Provencal chateau. The charming and sage Arnaud de Villeneuve Bargemon greeted us at the entrance, accompanied by Alexandre Le Corguillé, the estate manager and our mutual contact with M. Portalis. The estate has been in Arnaud’s family since the Revolution, steadily producing the traditional wines of the region and existing as a picturesque ideal of Mediterranean culture.
As is to be expected, much of the vineyard production is dedicated to rosé, with respectable amounts of red and white wines emerging from the cellar each vintage as well. All wines are estate bottled and 2020 marks the first vintage of certified organic wines at all levels. The geography of the estate dictates the various appellations found on the labels: vines in the plain below the slope are classified as IGP Méditerranée; the foot of the south-facing slope yields AOP Cotes de Provence, and the steeper incline of the hill carries the rare appellation Cotes de Provence La Londe, which carries a high concentration of schist content in the soil. A mere 20 estates count La Londe in their holdings, as the appellation extends across 8 villages in the immediate area.
The tasting of the four rosés presented exceeded the high expectations leading up to the moment, and it quickly became clear that we had found a new partner to bring benchmark Provencal wines to the American market. The only mild disappointment of the encounter was the relatively modest amount of wine available for export to the U.S., which is a result of low yields and the lack of much history sending wines beyond the French border. Regardless, we trust that our clients will appreciate the wines as we have, and that Chateau Les Mesclances will quickly build a loyal following among those who appreciate the style of rosé that elevated Provence to its position at the top of the pink mountain.