Provence in a glass
TEXT: HANNAH JANE THOMPSON | PHOTOS © DOMAINES OTT
Provence is not short of good wine, but it’s rare that a single family can offer vintages from three – yes, three – distinct estates.
Enter the Domaines Ott, comprising the Château de Selle, the Clos Mireille and the Château Romassan: (all within 90 minutes’ drive of Marseille, France) and each bringing something different – quite literally – to the table.
While Clos Mireille overlooks the Mediterranean Sea, with sand-clay earth, the hills of the Château de Selle offer arid, mineral-enriched soil. In contrast, the sandstone-limestone earth of Château Romassan is complemented by low rainfall and breezes from the bay of Bandol.
The first two produce wines under the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) de Provence, and the latter, the AOC Bandol: including “fresh and powerful” reds; “expressive and refreshing” whites; and “refined” rosés, which pair well with Mediterranean favourites such as fish, seafood, and Bouillabaisse.
Fittingly for such a varied brand, the ‘Ott’ name is today represented by two people – cousins Christian and Jean-François. Descendants of Marcel, the Alsace graduate who fell in love with what would become the first Ott vineyard during a Provence tour in 1896, the duo have managed the company for 15 years.
“We are devoted to our ancestors’ love of Provence,” explain Christian and Jean-François. “We continue the know-how of four generations, but are careful to bring in fresh dynamism, and a quality resulting from ancestral wine-growing tradition.”
Old methods mix with new: in 2017, a modern winery opened at the Château de Selle, streamlining the process using gravity, a half-buried cellar, and more than 90 stainless-steel vats.
Such detail is key: the family continues practices such as pruning the vine mid-growth – to allow the remaining fruit to better mature – and even go so far as to personally taste the grapes on the vine before harvest, to ensure consistent quality.
Even the trademark bottles are a family affair: the elegant shape was first designed by an uncle, René Ott, in the 1930s – who was said to be inspired by the region’s rolling hills. Now used to bottle every single Ott wine, it has become so iconic, that Clos Mireille even hosts a museum dedicated to its story.
Throughout history, this family has combined creativity with passion and knowledge to ensure that each bottle – no matter which of the three sites it comes from – is truly worthy to call itself Ott.