In the heart of the Alpilles, amidst sun-drenched valleys filled with endless vines, lie the ruins of a 13th century Templar castle where gliders silently float through the pure, bright blue sky. The setting in itself is breathtaking enough to stop by for a little while. And without signposts, you would never know that there is an equally impressive vineyard hidden deep in these hills: Château Romanin.
Although Château Romanin has only been in the hands of the current owners since 2006, viticulture on these fields dates back as far as 350BC, when the Greeks made their ‘Vin de Théopolis’. After being populated by – respectively – the Romans, Moors and Templars, the grounds were no longer used for quite some decades. Right until 1988, when the modern wine estate was founded, fully working by the use of traditional wine making principles.
The cellars of Château Romanin
Once arrived, Château Romanin immediately stands out for its artistic and mysterious entrance. Completely nestled in the rocks with a pair of imposing, meters-high doors as a welcome, you step into a naturally cooled room where wine is king. The whole building has something sacred, and that’s no coincidence. The pièce de résistance of Château Romanin was designed by Serge Hennemann, who became one of the very first architects in modern history to design a wine cellar.
According to Hennemann, the building and cave had to serve as a sort of astronomical observatory and underground Gothic cathedral. The seasons, the sun and the full moon are taken into account both in the vinification process as in the construction itself. The employees speak with reverence about the effect of magnetic fields in the various rooms, although we ourselves were not immediately convinced when we stood in the middle of the building where the sun falls in and spreads its energy throughout our bodies. However, it seems that many visitors do get overwhelmed by magnetic and natural forces. But apart from that, it is in any case an impressive construction with a beautiful gothic cellar for the largest cuvées.
The domain produces all its wines according to the biodynamic and agrodynamic working methods, based on the lunar calendar and not interfering with nature’s perks. Pesticides or other chemical products are also a big no go.
The grapes are all hand-picked, sorted and caressed (or it surely seems like it). Which grapes they use can vary from year to year, at least for some of their wines.
The white Romanin (IGP Alpilles) consists out of Rolle (otherwise known as Vermentino), Roussane and Clairette, where the first and last varieties provide the minerality, acidity and citrus notes, while the Roussane adds some additional depth and texture to the wine. We tasted the 2016 and were surprised by the complexity of this biodynamic wine. Apparently, the 2017 edition is somewhat sweeter and fruitier, so be sure to take a good look at what you’re drinking.
Château Romanin Rosé is made from no less than five different grapes: Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache, Carbernet Sauvignon and a little bit of the (figuratively) small Counoise-grape to add some flavors of strawberry. It’s not bad at all, but it couldn’t overwhelm us either. A rosé from Provence often tends to go a bit too far towards the typical swimming pool sipping material.
It’s no surpise that they also produces red wines: one lighter version (La Chapelle), matured in stainless steel barrels and almost extravagant in red fruit and slightly young tannins. And there’s the Château Romanin AOP Les-Beaux-de-Provence, a typical Grenach-Syrah-Mourvèdre blend with a bit of Cabernet Sauvignon added to it. This deep red wine has noticeably matured in oak casks, surrounded by some clear tobacco and spice scents. Even in the mouth, it’s a powerful yet rounded and already reasonably smooth wine. For us this one is, in addition to the white version, definitely a must-try.
Besides wine, the domain also four acres of olive trees, from which they sell their organic olive oil. There’s two types and they are both top-notch, so be sure to try them out too if you have the opportunity. Although the price tag (€30 for 50cl) was a little too high to convince us to take them home…
If you’re staying in the vicinity of Les Beaux-de-Provence, then let your GPS lead you to a trip to Château Romanin. The view over the domain alone is worth the trip. Guided tours are available at 10 AM and 3 PM and can be booked via their website. Mind you, these tours cost €17 (including private tasting), which isn’t a cheap give-away. If you don’t want a tour, there’s a possibility to visit the cathedral cellar if you come to visit via or with someone who is already in the customer database. If you are interested in visiting Château Romanin, just send us a message for more information!