It was a bit like turning up for a blind date, casting my eyes around Heathrow terminal five, trying to identify my companions for a trip to Domaine Ott, who, I realised I had no contact details for. Luckily, there seemed a group who looked like they had just met each other and were talking about wine, and looking suitably worn out from the late night and early start I guessed they must have been sommeliers.
Getting out to a surprisingly sunny Provence day, we set off on the hour drive to Clos Mireille, one of the three estates owned by the Ott Family. After the usual confusion of trying to find someone who knew something about our arrival, we were met by the charming Christopher Renard, ‘the silver fox’ who wasted no time in pouring a glass of Château de Selle to go with some delicious crudités. Whilst getting re-introduced to this great wine, we had a chance to look at the marvellous accommodation at the property. Recently redesigned, it had the look of an interior straight from the pages of a magazine. The floors were concrete, the walls were concrete, it had the look of a car park, albeit with amazing lighting and antiques, very striking. I don’t think it suited the tastes of our escort Charles King, the MD of Maison Marques et Domaine, the UK importer. Over the day we tried their Domaniers wines, entry-level cuvees which were deliciously fresh and very much in the Domaine style. After lunch we were taken to the beach where we frolicked around like small children on a day trip. Worryingly, there was a TV camera there as some film producers were making a documentary about the estate, Baywatch it was not. Following this embarrassing spectacle, and my clever ‘how far can you throw a rock into the sea’ competition, we showered and dressed for dinner.
With the Clos Mireille, we enjoyed a fantastic Cerviche of Salmon, something I always seem to get whenever I go to France. It went superbly well with the Clos Mireille Blanc de Blancs, a blend of Semillon and Ugni Blanc. Interestingly, this was the wine that forged the reputation of Domaine Ott, and it’s only with time that it has switched over to the Rose. The wine has a certain saline character, that allied with the lemon freshness of the Semillon went superbly with the fish. For the main course, we had some very tender roast lamb, served with the Bandol Rouge from Château Romassin, a cherry infused, spicy and juicy red, which I have to say, I like, but not nearly as much as the other wines of the estate, not that that stopped me from polishing off my glass with gusto. After dinner the more hardy palates tackled some rare Ott Marc de Provence, which was lovely, but attacked us with a vengeance the morning after.
Next day, after picking some grapes for the 2009 vintage we headed to Château de Selle, where we saw the winemaking team in action in the middle of harvest and tasted the rest of the range, including a 1998 Domaine Ott Rose, which must be a bit of a rarity. I found it tasty but with quite an oxidative character creeping in to the point where I would advise early drinking on all of these wines. Still, at least we didn’t try the oldest wine in their reserves, a 1932 Clos Mireille Blanc, which looked a horrific colour.
After flying back and getting back home, despite the best efforts of our taxi driver, I restored culinary equilibrium with a bland baked potato. Can’t be having too much luxury!