Witty, charming and jovial, proprietor Jean-Louis Croquet of Château Thuerry is passionate about becoming the Haut-Brion of the Southeast. His impeccable grounds, located in Villecroze, France, comprise of 840 acres of land, of which 111 acres are planted on southern exposure hillsides that sit at 1,300 feet.
He is a passionate man, almost mysterious until you get to know him. He was a former rugby player, lover of wine and former boss of the Sofrès. He stumbled across Château Thuerry after looking for a beachfront estate and signed on the dotted line when his realtor convinced him to look at the estate. And he’s never looked back. Jean-Louis has been at the helm since 1998, producing elegant reds and refined rosés that are promoted on the tables of Joël Robuchon and Alain Ducasse. And even Francis Ford Coppola, owner of two wineries in California, spends holidays at Jean-Louis Croquet’s vineyard at Chateau Thuerry.
Jean-Louis’ vineyards are diverse, composing of Syrah, Grenache, Rolle, Cabernet Sauvignon, Semillon, and Merlot, with the oldest vineyards (1927) planted with Cinsault. Jean-Louis likes to keep it fresh, so he often experiments with vines and recently planted Mourvèdre, a variety specific to Provence.
His three flagship lines—L’Exception, Les Abeillons and Le Chateau, all offer a red, white and rose. The reds were warm and tantalizing, reflecting the character of the region—ripe, rich and layered, offering lovely expressions of the terroir. The whites were fabulous; lively, fresh and spontaneous with bright acidity, complex white flower aromas and vivacious citrus. The roses were fresh and pretty, perfect for a hot summer day.
As a destination spot, it’s a perfect place to stop for a picnic, so bring some glorious Provencal fruits, vegetables and cheeses to pair with the wonderful wine. One of my favorite things to do in Provence is to hit up a local market, buy some melons, tomatoes, artichokes, goat cheese, nuts, bread, olive oil and spices and find an area to have a picnic with wine. And don’t forget the tomatoes—just cut and drizzle with olive oil, and then sprinkle on some Herbes de Provence (a delicious blend of local herbs) and you’ll be in heaven. Ditto for the melons—one of the glories of Provence is the Cavaillon melon, which is intensely sweet and juicy.
Located only 1 hour from Nice or Marseille, it’s definitely worth an afternoon stop, so get it on your calendar!
Until next time, happy travels.