La Bastide de Marie is a stunning white stoned 15th century country house set amidst the vineyards of the Luberon in Provence. Situated only 5 minutes from the picturesque city of Mènerbes, La Bastide de Marie is offers unconventional Provencal authenticity with a modern eclectic twist.
The bastide, which means a fortified house, is also the home to the Domaine de Marie winery which we also visited on our trip in October 2013. The winery and boutique hotel opened in 2000 and has quickly become a favourite destination for wine lovers. It is easy to see why - La Bastide and the Domaine de Marie offer the full experience - boutique hotel, winery, restaurant and spa relais, a traveller’s dream.
From the moment you enter this place you can feel a lot of French character and charm. There is a lot of attention to detail here. The rooms are beautifully decorated with a Bohemian flare, soft earthy colours contrasted by bold red, green or blue details. And this is not by chance. La Bastide de Marie is the creation of Maisons & Hotels Sibuet, a luxury hotel chain co-founded by Jocelyne Sibuet, France’s ultimate interior designer.
We stayed in the Garance suit, which opens up with a gorgeous stone bathroom and a staircase leading to a double bedroom. The bedroom looks very romantic with its white canopy bed and dozens of pillows. In the living room a handwritten note and a plate of grape awaits us by the fireplace which makes it more personable. The living room is dominated by a grandiose mirror and a warm fireplace. In fact, I notice that mirrors and fireplaces play an important role at the bastide creating a very cozy home-like feeling.
Outside the place is absolutely stunning. There are two swimming pools for guests all set in white washed stone. We like the fact that you can lounge by the pool overlooking the vineyards, sip a wine and just not hear a sound! For further relaxation, we can highly recommend La Bastide’s cozy spa where they use Pure Altitude products. We tried a head and body massage which was absolutely divine and relaxing.
The main highlight of our stay at La Bastide de Marie was the dinner, which was a unique gastronomic experience. They source only the best local produce, use their own herbs to make the best authentic dishes that are paired with the Domaine de Marie wines. At about 7pm you can start with the aperitif, a glass of rosé and nibble on some Provencal olives and charcuterie by the fireplace.
A 4-course dinner is served at 8pm and you are given 3 options on the menu for each course (they always have fish on the menu!). We started with a terrine of ox cheeks and stuffed mini vegetables which were as tasty as they were colourfully presented. For our mains we chose sea bass with white asparagus and rack of lamb with oriental couscous. The seabass meat was moist and delicious while the lamb was beautifully cooked to perfection. After our mains we indulged in a platter of 4 local cheeses of which 2 were goats (my favourite!). For dessert we went for a chocolate and nutella mousse (I would have licked the plate if I was allowed) and a poached spiced rhubarb for something lighter. Overall, the food, the wines and the staff were top notch. The dining experience at La Bastide de Marie is a must!
The next day, we made a visit to the Domaine de Marie winery where we were met by the winemaker Arnaud Bressy and the resident dog, very appropriately named Syrah. At the entrance of the wine tasting room, the caveau as the French call it, the modern eclectic theme continues from La Bastide. Obviously, the cellar and wine hotel were designed in harmony. I am particularly drawn to the two immense glass and grape shaped chandeliers.
Domaine de Marie has 24ha in the Luberon AOC appellation of the Vaucluse region. Here they grow Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault for reds and rosè, and Viognier, Grenache Blanc and Vermentino and Roussanne for white wines. The vineyards stretch out on two different terroirs from gentle rolling hills to altitudes as high as 300m. The north Luberon is cooler, allowing the grapes to retain more acidity and minerality. The winemaking philosophy at Domaine de Marie is to let the terroir do the work. Due to the favourable terroir conditions and the drying effect from the Mistral wind, the estate uses no chemicals on its vines.
We came at beginning of October, towards the end of the grape harvest season. We set off to the vinification room, where the enticing smell of fermentation was filling up the air. Arnaud tells us that the 2013 harvest started very late this year, on 21st of September precisely. The reason for that was a cold spring which delayed the flowering and then the ripening process. Despite that, he assures us that 2013 will be a great vintage, characterised by a lot of acidity which will allow the wines to age longer. We try the fermented white and the rosé directly from the tank - it’s an interesting experience to see how you end up with the end product - the wine. The fermented grape juice is still sweet, cloudy in colour and tastes more of bananas than your typical citrus fruits. The yeast has a lot more work to do.
We go back to the tasting room via the cellar, where French oak barriques are beautifully lined up. Here Arnaud uncorks 6 of the Domaine’s wines- we sample 2 whites, a rosé and 3 reds. My favourite is ‘No.1’, 2007 vintage - an elegant blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault with black cherries, blackberries, prune and spicy undertones. A long finish with earthy and garrigue flavours complementing the fruit. The runner-up is ‘Le’ 2009 - a more masculine and complex wine which I could prefer with meats. Arnaud tells us an anecdotal story about the names of the wines. Mr Sibuet, the owner of the Domaine, prefered the red ‘No.1’ wine, hence it’s name. However, following a special harvest, ‘Le’ was born. Mr Sibuet, had the difficult choice of naming his new favourite wine, it can’t be No.1 as there was already one. So he called ‘Le’ which in French means the one!
Opening times: Summer: Monday-Saturday from 10am-12pm and 2pm-7pm. Winter: Tuesday-Friday from 10am-12pm and 1pm-5pm.
Our verdict for La Bastide de Marie:
- complete experience - wine hotel, winery and spa relais
- vineyard and nature setting
- restaurant with own grown and local produce
- bikes available for guests to explore the country lanes
- Provencal character with a modern twist
- superior staff and service
- difficult to find - we got lost with the address that the GPS would not recognise. Have a little faith and continue on the road after you see the sign for Domaine de Marie
- quiet - maybe some will find this place too far from the hustle and bustle
- closed between November and mid April
La Bastide de Marie has special last minute autumn offers right now. For example, you can indulge in a 2 nights Spa Experience for only €490 per person. Alternatively, you can go on a truffle hunt and picnic experience with this 3 night stay Truffle Hunting Package for €810 per person.
Reviewed by: Tatiana Livesey, Winerist Co-founder.