Château Sainte Anne

VigneronJean-Baptiste and Françoise Dutheil
LocationSainte Anne d’Evenos (Var)
Size of Domaine15 ha
TerroirMediterranean climate with maritime influence. Sandy marl, sandstone and limestone. Gentle to steep slopes, terraces (restanques). Various expositions, 120-200m altitude.
ViticultureCertified organic (Ecocert)
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Château Ste Anne is a historical domaine in many ways, in addition to pioneering the Bandol appellation, the five succeeding generations of Dutheil de la Rochère resisted the siren call of post-war chemically dependent agriculture, and proudly certified the estate to organic in 1976.

Ste Anne reached cult status in the late 1970s when François Dutheil worked closely with like-minded vignerons (Marcel Lapierre, Pierre Overnoy, Thierry Puzelat etc) and Parisian restauranteurs (e.g. Café de la Nouvelle Mairie, Le Baratin) to establish l’Association des Vins Naturels (A.V.N.), paving the way for the now worldwide natural wine movement.

Terraces locally known as restanques

Only a few kilometres away from the Mediterrannée, the estate is located in Ste Anne d’Évenos, a unique terroir in the northeastern part of the Bandol AC. Caught in between three geological formations (massifs), where the sea breeze and cold air accumulate, the 15ha of vines enjoy a cool micro-climate slowing down maturity (mourvèdre here is usually picked mid-October) and keeping alcohol levels down to 12.5-13% - many Bandols with a southerly aspect weigh in at 14.5% or more! The hillsides are terraced, locally known as restanques, and the soils are derived from calcareous sandstone, with clay and thin interbeds of white, silica-rich sand.

Since François’ tragic passing, the discreet Françoise and Jean-Baptiste Dutheil (his wife and son) have carried on the Ste Anne venerable traditions, taking great care of their old vines en gobelet (no trellising) and respecting the family’s great savoir-faire.

Jean-Baptiste Dutheil

White grapes are processed whole while the reds are destemmed, white wine and rosé de saignée (bleeding) are vinified and aged in cuve inox (enamelled steel), the reds are aged in old wooden foudres (large casks traditionally used in Bandol) for a minimum of 20 months before bottling with an extremely low 2g/hl of sulphur. The Dutheils do not hesitate to extend the élevage in foudres and in bottle as well as skipping some vintage releases when deemed necessary.

Their wines are always sappy and elegant, with a spicy edge, they are characterised by intense and fresh fruit, very fine tannic texture and subtle harmony. Château Ste Anne has remained uncompromisingly old-fashioned, ignoring hype and trends, to produce some of the greatest wines, not just in a Bandol context but also when one considers all southern appellations from Roussillon to Provence.

A proud mourvèdre

Château Sainte Anne Wines

Château Sainte Anne

50% Clairette Verte, 50% Ugni Blanc (13% alc.)

This scarce cuvée (only 5% of Ste Anne’s total production) is made from 50yo vines planted on limestone-clay hillsides with siliceous sub-soils. Yields are between 25 to 30hh and the wine is aged for six months in cuve. Mid-gold in colour this is richly textured as well as pure and precise, with complex fruit hinting at melon, straw, fennel, anise, with notable balance and freshness. On the finish, there is a little sea salt and an attractive bitterness. For drinking now to 2028.

Château Sainte Anne

40% Mourvèdre, 30% Grenache, 30% Cinsault (13% alc.)

45yo vines give a yield of just 27hh and simply produce the most complex rosé of the AC. Alone among the top Bandol producers, Ste Anne continues to make it the old-fashioned way with the bleeding method, using ambient yeast, allowing alcoholic and malolactic fermentations to work at their own pace. It is also interesting to note that the Dutheils went on making 20% of rosé despite the high demand - it represents 75% of the appellation’s production these days! This wine has a very attractive onion skin colour, mufti-layered texture with red fruits, fennel, garrigue herbs and a hint of spice. For drinking now to 2030.

Château Sainte Anne

60% Mourvèdre, 20% Grenache,20% Cinsault (13% alc.)

Grapes are destemmed and punched daily by hand with a simple tool, and the vats are cooled down with a sprinkler hose when necessary – rudimentary but efficient technology! Ste Anne's red has exceptional colour, a clear mid-raspberry extending right to the edge. On the nose, you find black fruits, liquorice, a hint of game and a lightly saline note. The palate is supple and mid-weight, with black fruits, liquorice, truffle and leather. It is a very elegant wine (rare quality for most mourvèdre) drinking beautifully now although a long future is assured. For drinking now to 2035+.