When we were in Provence, I finally got a peek at my dream house. We were at the Chateau Barbeyrolles — a small property located at the foot of Gassin, one of the three villages on the Saint-Tropez peninsula — which was both an excellent winery and home to its proprietress, Régine Sumeire. From wandering her grape vines, which grow freely within clusters of rose bushes, to exploring her beautiful home (which had a gigantic swimming pool!), I was completely and utterly seduced by Barbeyrolles’ unabashed femininity and timeless personality.
Here in Montreal, Régine’s drinkable, friendly rose wines are very popular (her Cotes de Provence Petale de Rose, drunk poolside or at the beach, is especially a hit in the summer), and it was fascinating to see how her womanly, flower-loving personality translated to both her wines and the inspiring way she lives her life.
We were lucky enough to eat a simple, summery meal prepared by Sumeire herself, right in her own home, where she’s lived since 1977. Everyone knows that I’m obsessed with everything pink (my favorite color) and flowery and girly, so I was totally in hog heaven as I took in her rose-patterned tablecloth, impressive Persian rug collection, and shelves and shelves of well-read books. It incapsulated everything I’ve ever imagined for my own dream home — especially the cozy, terra cotta-tiled kitchen, where we ate.
Régine, in true effortless French lady form, had prepared a feast of traditional Provencal food, like cubes of foie gras wrapped in ham; a cold tomato and salt cod salad, dusted with fennel fronds and chives; tender squares of zucchini, stuffed with ground veal, garlic, and breadcrumbs; and mini fig and raspberry tartlets. (All carefully paired with her delicious wines, of course). Right as we were about to sit down and eat, the kitchen was flooded with intense, fluorescent pink light, which spilled over the hillside like water. We didn’t encounter many other female winemakers when we were in Provence, and Régine had a particularly intriguing, witchy aura about her, like she was in control of the sunset somehow. I felt lucky to be there.
PS. Montreal friends, if you’d like to get a taste of this kind of Provencal magic, my friends Seth and Michelle are hosting a special Provencal dinner tonight at the Foodlab, in honor of the late, great food writer Richard Olney. (A familiar name on this blog, for sure!) Trust me — you don’t want to miss this.