Douglas Blyde travels to the south of France to take in the delights of Monaco, A list tennis as well as the chance to meet Jean-François Ott and taste his wines from Domaines Ott.
Jean-François Ott: producing wines with personality and star appeal
Temptation consumed one of our guests in Monaco. Enveloped into the cool, starry night, he left early, gripping the complimentary chip for the Monte Carlo casino, which had been tucked by organisers inside the menu.
High on fresh, ripe Provence white crafted by Domaines Ott* – Clos Mireille, Blanc de Blancs 2013 – fellow diners were too mesmerised by the steamy, athletic performance by Ballet Alla Duhova to observe his departure.
These included Ott*’s perky, witty custodian winemaker, Jean-François Ott, tonight keeping low a profile here in the Salle des Etoiles, as we dined under a huge, smoothly retractable roof. Jean-François later revealed having been insistently misidentified as actor, Kevin Spacey at other starry locations, including Manhattan Buddhist-authored seafood-centric triple Michelin-starred restaurant, Le Bernardin.
The afternoon the day before, our well-fused gang, composed of a top-end importer, sommelier and restaurant manager, and writer, represented by Yours Truly, had been willingly immersed in the heritage of Jean-François and his family legacy. For the wines of Domaines Ott* are arguably the most famous to be allied with the French Riviera.
We tasted newly-launched, irresistible second label, By. Ott in the dining room of minimalist mansion, Villa Ott, bordering the vines of Clos Mireille then white sand and sea whipped with white horses. The only picture I recall on the wall was the small oil of Jean-François’s grandfather, Marcel, who, despite having a beard, bore an uncanny resemblance to his grandson.
The Alsatian agricultural engineer turned vigneron began the story of Domaines Ott* in 1896, later adding that odd, but iconic, asterisk to sate a patent requirement, determinedly working to fulfil his dream of owning an illustrious wine estate near the Med.
Then, as a neat row of pollarded plane trees sharpened in silhouette, we released remarkably well-kept Sémillon-dominant Blanc de Blancs back to 1986 alongside a bream each, steamed over vine embers.
Wearing a charming, Miss.World-style sash of a paper label, originally affixed by a dedicatedly uni-tasked employee, the 30 year-old rendition was imbued, deeply, with scents of marzipan, iodine and even saffron, while the 1990 spoke of cream, smoke and dried apricots.
Jean-François mentioned how, as a 19 year-old, he would pilot gin palaces from St Tropez for the über-wealthy, if they rose in time for calm seas.
His work today is favoured by that same set, including Albert II Prince of micro state, Monaco. Which directly led to the support from Ott* to partner with the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters tennis tournament, which is why the distinctive bottles bobbed in ice buckets here at the Salle des Etoiles gala dinner, then the day after, in the VIP Village flanking the Mars-coloured courts.
There, refined, Grenache rich rosé, Clos Mireille, which is less spicy and more voluptuous than the Mourvèdre strong rendition from Château Romassan, was served, post victory of Jamie Murray playing doubles, but prior to Andy Murray’s loss to Nadal.
Fortunately, the roving gambler had returned, apparently not scarred by the ever-turning roulette carousel, to raise a hand of chilled, coral coloured rosé to the star of the Med.
In a nutshell
- Domaines Ott* is imported in to the UK by Maison Marques Domaines.
- Marcel Ott founded Château de Selle in 1912, followed by Clos Mireille in 1935, then Château Romassan in 1956.
- Today, the wineries are owned and managed by Champagne Louis Roederer.
- Regarded as the ‘gold standard of rosé’ by The Wall Street Journal, in 2016.
- New this year, cuvée, By. Ott is made in Château de Selle’s new cellar.