A few lucky team members took a trip to the sunny South of France to visit our Provençal producer, Maison Saint-AIX. We arrived at Domaine de la Grande Séouve on Thursday 30th September, and first on the agenda was a tour of the vineyard. Nestled in the rolling hills of Provence, North-East of Aix-en-Provence, Maison Saint AIX is one of the largest domaines in the AOP Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, with a holding of 75 hectares planted at an altitude of 400-420 metres. With its cool nights, hot days, and regular cooling Mistral winds, this wonderful location provides the perfect conditions for growing Grenache, Syrah & Cinsault. The Domaine has a mixture of 50-60-year-old Grenache vines, which ensure high quality ‘jus’, as well as younger vines, which provide freshness from the younger fruit. In the cellar, they have temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks and pneumatic presses.

Every lunchtime during harvest, the pickers gather to play a game of Pétanque (the southern-French version of Boules) in AIX’s very own terrain dedicated to the much-loved game. The AIX team hosted us for a wonderful lunch onsite, where Dutch owner Eric Kurver is now based. After a delicious Mediterranean and fish-themed lunch, which paired ever so well with the 2021 AIX rosé, it was time to pick some grapes. Most grapes are machine-picked before sunrise to avoid oxidation, but we were given an AIX straw hat, several buckets and a pair of pruning shears to harvest their Cinsault grapes. It was great fun, especially with the sun shining down on us!

The rest of our time was filled with dinner, lunch and a culinary tour of Aix-en-Provence. From Calisson d’Aix, created by the Roy René of the city, to local cheeses and olive oils, this was a fantastic way to learn about this vibrant yet elegant city. Aix-en-Provence was the capital of the County of Provence during the Angevin dynasty until the Revolution. Its centre around the Cours Mirabeau has several 17th and 18th-century mansions, and the city, among several other artists, is home to 19th-century impressionist painter Paul Cézanne.

A short but very sweet visit; thanks to the team at AIX for having us!