Marisa and I knew that we couldn’t go to France without drinking wine…and lots of it. So, when we came across the opportunity to do a wine tasting, it seemed like the perfect plan. We signed up for a small group half day tour of the Bandol & Cassis regions with Provence Wine Tours, which would get us back to Marseille with just the right amount of time to pack and head to the airport.
We arrived just before 9:00 outside of the Marseille tourist office, the meeting point for the tour. I was assuming it would be similar to the Tuscany wine tour, with a bus parked outside the meeting point and the tour guide ushering people over with a sign. There were no people or buses outside of the tourist office, so we were confused and ultimately just stood in front hoping someone would come to us.
A couple of minutes later, our guide approached us and introduced himself. He then went on to tell us that the other group of people who was meant to be on the tour had cancelled (food poisoning) and it would be just us. So, it ended up being a private wine tour! We hopped in the van and headed on our way!
The first winery we visited was in Bandol – Domaines Bunan, after the Bunan family. This was probably one of the biggest wineries I’ve been to yet, producing 400,000+ bottles per year. Our guide knew so much and told us all about the wine regulations in France, the different grape varieties, and about the winery itself. We walked through the entire wine making process and watching real staff in action (it’s the end of harvest season so we lucked out!). We then tasted two reds and one rose – I was a huge fan of the rose, which is rather surprising! I found out they sell their wines in Marks & Spencer here in the UK so I will definitely be tasting again.
The second winery was the Bodin family winery in Cassis. This is the oldest winery in Cassis, but smaller than the one we visited in Bandol (200,000 bottles per year). Like most wineries in Cassis, they produce mainly white wines. We did not spend as much time at the second winery, since they do all of their production at a different site, so we got right to the tasting. We tried five wines – 4 whites and 1 rose. Unfortunately, there were no crackers or palette cleansers, so by the third white, everything was tasting the same and I did not really get a feel for the Bodin family wines. I would have brought some back to the UK to try again, but I was only carrying hand luggage on the plane, and these wines unfortunately aren’t sold outside of France.
After the second winery, we spent a short amount of time in the town of Cassis, which is an adorable fishing village. It seems like a town that cruise ships would stop in – one main street with really nice shops and restaurants on the harbor. We did a bit of window shopping and then stopped for cappuccinos before meeting our guide back at the car.
The final stop on the tour was an overlook point near Cassis. The views we got were absolutely amazing, and Marisa was a trooper powering through her fear of heights!
While the tour was not as incredible as the one I did in Tuscany, it definitely gave me an enhanced appreciation for Marseille. Seeing the surrounding areas made me fall in love with the Provence region, and I definitely think I would return to see some of the other towns. Plus, who doesn’t love an excuse to drink wine starting at 10:00am?
[In my element]