They are shrouded in mystery and nature, the Paul Ricard Islands located off one of the most beautiful coasts in the south of France, the Var, facing the Mediterranean Sea. An earthly paradise, for they have escaped the onslaught of tourism. The widely popular French pastis anise-flavored drink created by Paul Ricard is known throughout the world but he also produced wine and today on one of the two Paul Ricard islands, the Island of Embiez, one of the most coveted and confidential vineyards is to be found. The island produces AOP Côtes de Provence white and rosé wine, AOP being a European label indicating the geographic region where a product was produced and elaborated, and an IGP Var red wine, IGP being the French acronym indicating its protected geographic location. The white and rosé wines are now organic and the 2020 vintages have been certified as such.
The tiny vineyard of just 2.5 acres (10 hectares) on the peaceful island produces some 25,000 bottles of the fine island wine each year. The first vineyards were planted there between 1580 and 1600 by the Lombard family, the then owners of the island while the current vineyard was planted in 1901. In 1922, the vineyards were producing a wine that was enjoyed locally and « exported » to the mainland in casks but the vineyard was abandoned in World War II then repaired in 1947. When Paul Ricard acquired the island in 1958, he decided to revive the vineyard. Today the entire process from the grape growing to the wine-making process to the selling of the wine takes place on the island and the entire production is managed and cared for by the employees of the Paul Ricard Company
The wine-making is supervised by the island’s winemaker Etienne Pats. The rosé is a blend of the Cinsault and Grenache grape varieties while the white wine is a blend of the Rolle and Ugni blanc varieties. The grapes are hand picked and grow in the sandy schist soil of the island just a few yards from the sea and drenched in sun throughout the year. The Paul Ricard islands are made up of the Island of Embiez and the Island of Bendor which are surrounded by crystal clear waters and to which there is limited boat access from the mainland.
©Trish Valicenti for The Gourmet Gazette