Wine tastings by 65 regional winemakers is planned on January 30th, 2011 at the Cloitre du Couvent de Saint-Maximin which is considered to be one of the most beautiful gothic Provençal buildings.
The construction of the Basilica and Convent were ordered by Charles II of Angou, King of Sicily and Count of Provence in 1295 to house the relics of Saint Mary Madeleine. You can visit the crypte inside the Basilica and see those relics as well as the sacrophage. The photo above is the cloiter where the wine tastings will take place. Part of the convent has been converted into a Hotel and Restaurant www.hotelfp-saintmaximin.com
Some 6000+ visitors are expected to attend between 10 am ad 6 pm. Vineyards from the following appelations will be exhibiting: Coteaux Varois en Provence, Côtes de Provence Fréjus, Côtes de Provence Sainte-Victoire, Côte de Provence La Londe, Bandol, Coteaux d'Aix en Provence. For more information on local appelations go to www.vinsdeprovence.com and click on the British flag for the English version. Makers of regional produce (olive oil, honey, nougat and candied fruit) will also be present. Two top regional chefs, Dominique Frérard of the Trois Forts in Marseilles and René Bergès will be on hand for wine pairings at the Refectory of the Convent.
The event is called the Fête (Festival) Saint Vincent as he is the patron Saint of winemakers. Saint Vincent is said to have stopped to speak with men working in the vines while his donkey nibbled away at the top of the vine shoots. The grape harvest the following season was exceptional and ever since the shoots of the vines are cut back each winter.