A trip to Mirabeau en Provence

by Nathan Rollinson

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When I heard I had been exclusively invited to go and visit Provence with Mirabeau’s wine brand for the next few days, my heart sang loudly knowing I have so much devotion for France’s rural lifestyle, especially Mirabeau in Provence. For those who strive to attain their dream of a new business or a new life and turn it into reality, read on, as this is exactly what happened to the Cronk family. Jeany and Stephen decided to put away their South London lifestyle for a new beginning over 10 years ago to realise their dream of making rosé wine in the heart of Provence. Continuing to be motivated by this inspiration over these 10 years, this leaves me eager to look out for a new adventure ahead.



The Cronk family welcomed me to their stunning Provençal home where I could follow their Mirabeau wine journey for the next few days, so now it is time to hear the Mirabeau story. In 2009, after 10 years of talking about it, armed with big ambitions to produce world-class rosés and willing to challenge established wisdom, they founded Mirabeau. Their journey has been extraordinary in many ways, from the ups and downs of founding their own business and succeeding in the world of wine, to resettling their family in a place that couldn’t be more different from the last. And on to producing their first wine, their classic rosé, which still sells enormously well today.



A rosé (from French rosé; also known as rosado in Portuguese and Spanish-speaking countries and rosato in Italy) is a type of wine that incorporates some of the colour from the grape skins, but not enough to qualify as a red wine. It may be the oldest known type of wine, as it is the most straightforward to make with the skin contact method. The pink colour can range from a pale “onion-skin” orange to a vivid near-purple, depending on the varieties used and the different winemaking techniques. There are three major ways to produce rosé wine: skin contact, saignée, and blending. Rosé wines can be made still, semi-sparkling or sparkling and with a wide range of sweetness levels from highly dry Provençal rosé to sweet White Zinfandels and blushes. Rosé wines are made from a wide variety of grapes and can be found all around the world.



When rosé wine is the primary product, it is produced with the skin contact method. Black-skinned grapes are crushed and the skins are allowed to remain in contact with the juice for a short period, typically two to twenty hours. The must is then pressed, and the skins are discarded rather than left in contact throughout fermentation (as with red wine making). The longer the skins are left in contact with the juice, the more intense the colour, which allows the perfect blush pink tone to their wine.



Mirabeau uses different types of classic red grape varieties, most commonly Sarah Grenache, Cinsault and sometimes more off-beat varieties such as Tibouren. They are privileged to work with an exceptional wine blending expert, Nathalie Longefay who has been an integral part of the Mirabeau team since 2011. Coming from a wine family in Beaujolais, she is looking to improvise a good selection and blending skills to create a balanced rosé, namely a wine that is neither too short, too fruity, bitter or acidic. All of these aroma and taste components are crucial to achieve a wine that will be pleasant on its own or with selected foods and most importantly one that will urge you to have a second glass! There is a wide range within the Mirabeau collection such as Classic, Pure, Etoile and the latest collection is La Folie. They are widely available at Waitrose and Sainsbury’s throughout the UK.



The Cronk’s family’s home is one of the prettiest I have ever seen, a perfect ‘la vie en rose’ moment. With its stunning al fresco dining area and a gorgeous swimming pool overlooking Cotignac – living the life right now, with a cosy ambience, a copious show of roses and the sun beaming out so delightfully, while Stephen talked about their journey together, showcasing a few individual rosés and how the Mirabeau wine works. Suddenly, lunch is ready and a veritable feast magically appears on a pretty instagrammable table top. All of us are hungry and eager to try this beautiful food, cooked and hosted by chefs Katie and Safia, from Cook & Baker. However, before we even start, there is always that first important photo!



On the final day of our trip, I refuse to let myself think about the packing or the ‘feeling blue’ moment. I grab a fresh coffee to start the morning with a good friend of mine, Victoria, who chats away all about our wonderful experience with Mirabeau Wine. We head off to the stunning village of Cotignac, a rural lifestyle in the Provence region. No chain stores here, only independent shops and cafes-  so nice to see once in a while. Cotignac is a stunningly beautiful Provencal village, an intoxicating blend of colour and charm that’s off the beaten track, a place to relax and enjoy a slower pace of life and as these Cotignac photos show, an unforgettable place that typifies the best of Provence. The village of Cotignac in the Var, is dominated by majestic cliffs on top of which sit a pair of square, medieval towers, “Les Tours Sarrasins”, which have been watching over the town for centuries.  Built into the cliffs are caves which have provided shelter and refuge going back millennia, and even today a few of these troglodyte dwellings are in use. You can visit them from a path behind the town hall or take the road signposted to the Les Tours Sarrasins. Everywhere, dazzling displays of flowers draw the eye and the admiration of visitors, good job I’ve brought my floral silk trouser with me to blend in with the ambience.



What a dreamy destination to visit and thank you to Mirabeau and Niki from Sauce Comms for having us all. This certainly brings the Mirabeau Moment, “la bonne vie” and I will be back soon to taste the Mirabeau experience again.


Photos by Victoria Metaxas 

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