A Gem in the Med


Photograph by: LUCAS NOONAN

It’s always good to have a few tricks up your sleeve.

For the Brits amongst us, the old “pair of aces… aaaaaannnnd another pair of aces” à la Del Boy of Only Fools and Horses fame is always a good one.

Or, if you’re Hatchet Harry, having  Barry the Baptist on the phone with a secret camera calling the cards at a high-stakes poker game.

But if you are truly looking to impress, cultural knowledge as opposed to skulduggery usually carries more weight with the fairer sex. So enter this little gem into your RAM: Château de Bellet, Nice, France.

Since 5 AD, when the Romans were fighting Asterix the Gaul and his enormous menhir-carrying sidekick Obelix, grapes have been growing on these hills. And yet it is only 25 minutes from the beach, and the only Appellation Controlée in France, which sits within the confines of a city’s limits.

Slap-bang in the middle of some of the most amazing vistas known to man, with the Alpes-Maritimes mountains to the north, and the Mediterranean sea to the south, it’s about as picturesque as it gets. Throw in an ancient white chapel on the top of a hill and a tiny vineyard that produces only 500 cases of  “La Chapelle” per year, and it’s not surprising that this is both one of the best-kept secrets in the wine world and also something well worth knowing about. The grapes are indigenous only to this very small plot of a few hectares, making the whites, reds and rosés that are produced here unique. It’s such good stuff and in such short supply they don’t even bother to try to export it. It’s simply all soaked up by the discerning locals before it has a chance to make it under the nose of a negociant and onto a ship.So what were we doing there?Well, in order to add some yang to the yin of spending some time in the melée of the Monaco Grand Prix amongst the pirates, we thought a spot of culture would be good for us. That and a wine tasting with the winemaker, Charles Savariaud, at 9am after a tour of the vines.How’s that for setting yourself up for an interesting day?We thought so, too…


Words by Duncan Quinn Photos by Lucas Noonan