With its stunning coastal location within the U.N.E.S.C.O. World Heritage site of 'Les Calanques' national park, Cassis must be a strong contender for the most picturesque appellation contrôlée in France. If so, then the Sack-Zafiropulo family's Clos Saint Magdeleine estate is the jewel in the crown. Set in 20 hectares surrounding a fabulous art deco mansion above the azure Mediterranean and below the imposing edifice of the Cap Canaille cliffs, it really is a piece of jaw-droppingly stunning viticultural real estate. Happily, for the princely sum of 12 euros you can enjoy a guided tour and wine tasting between April and September; although we would advise against visiting in August when temperatures are at the highest and the resort is besieged by holidaymakers.
The Clos Saint Magdeleine blanc is made from a blend of Marsanne, Clairette, Ugni Blanc and Bourboulenc and has a limpid straw colour and a distinctive bouquet of Provençal pine and wild herbs preceding a palate of citrus fruit and a persistent, dry, savoury finish. Its 'raison d'être' is to accompany the local seafood so the lion's share of production is enthusiastically consumed in the immediate vicinity. Since 2012, the family have also produced an old vine bottling from 50 year-old rootstock on the 'Bel Arme' terraces directly below the Cap Canaille. It has more depth, concentration and weight than the principal white wine and makes an ideal accompaniment to the local speciality of bouillabaisse. The Clos Sainte Magdeleine rosé is blended from Grenache Noir, Cinsault and Mourvèdre. It has a lovely coral pink robe, wild flower scents and ripe redcurrant and raspberry flavours offset by fresh acidity. It is best served on the deck of a Feadship yacht but a patio in Penge will suffice in extremis.
New to this list, and an incontrovertible 'bon marché' bargain, is the family's new Côtes-de-Provence rosé from a precious parcel of coastal vines at La Ciotat, between Cassis and Bandol. Made from a blend of Grenache Noir, Cinsault, Mourvèdre and Syrah, it has the signature Clos Sainte Magdeleine elegance and finesse with wild strawberry aromas and a zesty summer-berry palate.