I’ve always loved the famous Petale de Rose wine made by Barbeyrolles here in Saint Tropez
and when I sent the owner, Regine Sumiere an e mail last week asking if I could stop by and
interview her to learn more about the history of Barbeyrolles, she immediately replied yes. I was
more than excited to meet her!
As I drove up the long road to the chateau, the vineyards spread out around me and the warm
late afternoon sun shining down on me, I was immediately enveloped by the beauty, the history
and the magic of this preserved property in the gulf of Saint Tropez.
The twelve acre vineyard lies at the foot of the village of Gassin and was acquired by Madame
Sumiere in 1977. Before this, it was the summer residence of the archbishops of Toulon and
had two different names, Tour de l’Eveque and Chateau la Tour Saint-Anne. It’s said that Queen
Mary, the Countess of Provence gave the inhabitants of Cuers special privileges on this land
and that Queen Jeanne, the Queen of Naples and the sister of King Rene stayed here long ago.
As I entered Regine’s office and started to talk with her, the thing that struck me right away was
how friendly and unpretentious she is. She is the daughter and granddaughter of wine growers
and has been passionate about wine for as long as she can remember. As she spoke to me
about the wine, the chateau, the vineyard and her history, I could she that she is absolutely
doing what she loves here at Barbeyrolles.
Regine came up with the idea for the Petal de Rose wine one summer afternoon in 1982. She
wanted to create a wine that was the same color as light pink rose petals. It was her idea to
vinify red ganache grapes by pressing the entire grape and then using a champagne press. The
difference was not only the light rose petal pink color, but the taste as well. It’s light and lovely
and sophisticated in the mouth.
I personally love to drink this wine with fresh sea food or drink it with l’apertitif , olives, crostini
and goat cheese in the early evening before dinner.
At Barbyrolles, all of the grape picking is done manually which means that the harvest is
constantly screened for haute (high) quality. They were one of the first in the region to create
organic wine and salt of their wine is organic. They still use horses to plow. All of the harvesting
is done manually using biodynamic principles. The tractor use is minimal.
The main advantage of horses, is that they have a much lighter “footprint” than tractors and so
they compound the ground much less.
As we walked together outside, Regine told me a story that I will never forget.
The couple that lived here before she purchased the estate was an English man, married to a
Russian woman, a former dancer apparently. He was with La Resistance, long ago and used to
go up to the village of Gassin in the evenings and play cards with the officials. The husband
died before Regine took over but the wife asked is she could continue living there on the estate
in memory of her life and her husband. There is a beautiful small house on the estate with a
small pool and the wife lived there until she died in her nineties. How romantic is that? I loved
it! Regine took me to the small house and showed me where the wife had lived and once again
I was taken back to a different time, feeling the magnificent history that lives here. The house
can be rented for special occasions and I spoke to Regine about organizing a beautiful group
lunch outside, in front of the grand chateau with lovely food and amazing wine from
Before I left, Regine so kind and generous gave me her book, which I will truly treasure. It’s a
collection of her family’s fifty favorite recipes, datong back a long time. If anything gets me to
learn how to cook, this little book will. There is everything from Mame’s (grandma’s) stuffed
sardines to cheese and nutmeg souffles to rosso buco. And of course, recipes for dessert, like
the chestnut ice cream. I’ll be sharing some of her amazing recipes in my blog.
Regine also sent me home with a bottle of Petal de rose, and a bottle of Chateau Barbeyrolle
white and red wine.
As I got in my car and drove home to the colors of the sunset here in Saint Tropez, I was filled
with love and gratitude and once again reminded of the goodness of the people here and the
authenticity and simplicity that can be found in Saint Tropez when one looks for it.
Connection is what gives our lives meaning and richness.
Regine is just one of the many wonderful people I have gotten to meet and spend a few
moments with. Moments that I will not forget.
Chateau Barbeyrolles is located in Gassin France, in the Gulf of Saint Tropez
They are open for tastings and you can stop by the Chateau to buy wine as well from
Phone number: +33 (0) 4 94 56 33 58
If you’d like to try their lovely wine, click here Petale de Rose