The French Riviera has long enjoyed an affinity with fine wines, whether being grown in a scenic vineyard or consumed with a sumptuous meal.
The popularity of Provence’s rosés – produced in vineyards surrounding St Tropez – has been a constant fixture of popularity in the international wine industry; the pale rosés are especially sipped in wine bars and beach clubs around the world. But winetasting is changing with the times in this idyllic part of the world. Avid wine samplers are arriving at Riviera vineyards from the skies, complementing fine wine with an astounding sense of adventure.
A Helicopter Tour
Luxury helicopter company, Monacair, offers private helicopter transfers throughout the French Riviera and beyond. Visitors to the region have started to indulge their winetasting fantasies by flying between vineyard destinations in ultimate style and comfort. Aside from being a fantastic way to sample many different wines, helicopter travel is also the very best way to admire the breathtaking coastline that is famous the world over.
Nice la Belle
Set in the western hills of Nice, Bellet is not just one of France’s smallest appellations, but it is also one of its oldest. A handful of little, mainly family-run properties proudly cultivate two particular red grape varieties that are grown no-where else in the world: Braquet and Folle Noire. The former is the main ingredient in a rosé wine that is often deeper in colour and with more spice on the palate than the rosés from further down the coast, while the latter is reserved for some very special red wines. Some of the smaller vineyards open only by appointment, but two of the larger vineyards, Château de Bellet and Château de Crémat, boast impressive cellar tours and tasting options.
Wine in Cannes
Further along the coast, Cannes is famous for many reasons, including its chic waterfront promenade, the Croisette. Wine lovers looking to discover new experiences are in for a treat here: one of the South of France’s most unique vineyards is situated on the Ile Saint-Honorat – one of two small islands nestled just off the coast. The eight-hectare vineyard belongs to the Lérins Abbey and the monks who have lived here for almost 16 centuries cultivate its vines. Today, they produce a variety of red and white wines made from well-known varieties, including Chardonnay, Syrah (Shiraz) and Pinot Noir. Visitors can arrive in Cannes by helicopter, before taking a boat to the island.
Sip Rosé in St Tropez
Of course, no introduction to the vineyards of the French Riviera would be complete without mentioning the crisp, salmon-hued rosés from St Tropez. The perfect accompaniment to hot summer afternoons around the world, the rosé is exported in immense quantities. The spiritual homes of these pink delights are the vineyards that fan out from the glamorous fishing village. From Château Minuty’s recently released prestige Cuvée 281, which uses only the best vines of the estate to create a delicious and complex drop, to Château Barbeyrolles, whose award winning Pétales de Rosé is best tasted on-site at the quintessentially Provençal estate, there’s no need to travel far from the heliport to discover some of the finest examples of Provence rosé available.