Saturday, November 26, 2011

Years in Provence

Faverot estate.JPG

THE LUBERON, France--Peter Mayle once lived in one of this region's hilltop villages, waxing romantic about the lazy expat life, waiting with bemusement for the local tradesmen to show up and finish tiling the shower. Not so François and Sally Faverot, who left London after a career in the restaurant business and bought a rundown property at the base of the limestone cliff.

The Faverots set about turning one wing of their manse into self-catering holiday cottages equipped with kitchen, bath, living room, fireplace and two bedrooms. Booked solid throughout the summer months, popular in the off-season as well with writers and painters. The vineyard, which François planted with traditional Provençvarieties, covers 18 acres and produces 25,000 bottles annually.

Courtyard.JPGThe best wine is called General, half syrah, half grenache, and could easily pass for a Châteauneuf-du-Pape, at least the old style of Châteauneuf before the boundaries of the AOC were vastly expanded and the quality vastly diluted. Ironically, Domaine Faverot flirts dangerously with volatile acidity, the hallmark of the old-style. The grenache, François explains, achieves its phenolic ripeness through a spontaneous interior fermentation, so his wines have high volatile acidity from the start. His neighbors, who prefer to play safe, look closely (and skeptically) at the lab reports for the General. It wouldn't be the end if, one day, they refused to accord Faverot the AOC Luberon certification, though; he's got plenty of private clients--and visitors--who love his wines as they are.

François had an ancestor who distinguished himself in battle and was rewarded by Napoleon with a title and land in Brittany. He could have lived the life of a nobleman, but instead he's in Provence, making wine, while Nancy takes care of the holiday cottages. A great summer spot for families who want a private pool; a great winter spot for writers who like quiet solitude. Not such a bad life after all, eh?

Domaine Faverot, 771 Route de Robion, 84660 MAUBEC, France, +33(0)

Our visit to Domaine Faverot was part of a trade show organized by the regional tourism authority of Provence. Photos courtesy of Nilesh Kale, Black Grape Holidays.

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