If there was a prize awarded for the most stunning vineyard location, the Sack family's 'Clos Sainte Magdeleine' estate would be the bookies' favourite. Located in the heart of the Calanques National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage site) beneath the edifice of France's tallest sea cliff - the 'Cap Canaille' - its steep terraces look over the azure blue of the Mediterranean and benefit from cooling sea breezes and a long, sunny ripening season. It exemplifies the concept of terroir, or taste pertaining to place, producing sensational wines that are quintessentially Provençal in character.
Current patron Jonathan Sack is also president of the local wine-makers' syndicate so is keen to champion the output of the 11 other private producers in the appellation as well as his own. Clos Sainte Magdeleine encompasses 20 hectares of vines, which are farmed organically, and 70% of its production is white wine. The main cuvéé, in terms of volume, is a blend of Marsanne, Clairette, Ugni Blanc and Bourboulenc that are hand-harvested and vinified in concrete vats. It has a limpid straw colour, scrub and citrus scents and an elegant stone fruit palate with a fresh, dry finish. It is delicious in its own right but its raison d'être is to accompany the local seafood. Since 2012 an old vine bottling has also been produced, from the 'Bel Arme' escarpment directly beneath the 'Cap'. It has more weight and depth than the regular bottling and has developed a loyal following amongst sommeliers and cavistes.
Jonathan's Cassis rosé is made from a blend of Grenache Noir, Cinsault and Mourvèdre in descending proportions. It has an attractive coral-pink robe, delicate wildflower aromas and soft red fruit flavours underscored by a fresh acidity. It pairs brilliantly with crustacea such as lobster, langoustines or crab.
A welcome addition is a new Côtes de Provence rosé from a precious parcel of vines at La Ciotat between Cassis and Bandol. It's blended from Grenache Noir, Cinsault, Mourvèdre and Syrah and exudes the estate's seamless finesse with a wild strawberry bouquet and zesty 'crushed berry' palate.