Domaine de Mme Roux

The local history magazine for the region of Nice, Sourgentin, wrote a small article in the October of 2013, about wine in Bellet in the 1930s.

Jean-Michel Bessi interviewed Solange Rodrigues about her maternal grandmother, Mme Roux, who had bought land in the early 20th century, with south facing hills near the Château de Bellet, between Saquier and Les Grecs.

Around 1930 Mme Roux decided to plant the land with vines. This was before the establishment of an appellation, so there were no controls over what was planted, but she used a local ‘greffeur‘ who grafted vines onto rootstocks, a M. Séassau in nearby Colomars. He chose the varieties Folle Noir, Braquet and Cinsault for the rosé wine and Clairette for white. These he felt were the best for growing on the clay and poudingue soil and which would have a ripening span over three weeks so that the grapes could be harvested sequentially.

The vines were trained along wires and peach trees were planted along the same terraces. A terrace between the two halves of the house had a trellis (tonnelle in French, Laupia in Nissart) over which Chasselas was grown for eating grapes.

The vines were managed by a Mr Piselli, who lived in the hamlet of Séoules, with the help of other locals. During the harvest everyone was up at 6am. The grapes were harvest and collected in trays, not baskets or hottes (buckets), and taken to the cellar at the domaine Caraveo, which was better equipped. The grapes were pressed and the juice put into large casks, tonneaux, which had been soaked in water the week before the harvest.

At midday the harvesters ate lunch, daube (beef stew) with gnocchi, ravioli or polenta, under the Laupia and drank the wine of the previous vintage.

As soon as the casks were full, they would be taken to the cellar. Mme Rodrigues does not mention the length of time for fermentation or any filtration. The rose reached 12 to 13% alcohol. The wine was only put into bottle as and when needed. This must have led to the wine becoming oxidised quite rapidly, but, unsurprisingly, did not last more than 2 to 3 years, and was never regarded much of a success. The white wine was always drunk within the year.

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