Ve", a local Provencal expression meaning "Look at that!", is a blend of 70% Caladoc (a crossing of Grenache and Malbec), 15% Merlot, and 15% Marselan (a crossing of Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon) from soils of sand and loam. Harvested at night to ensure that the bunches are cool upon entry to the winery, "Ve" is pressed directly and given a brief passage in stainless steel before bottling. Clocking in at a modest 13% alcohol, it offers bright, salt-tinged flavors of raspberry and ripe citrus fruits, with a sneakily long finish given its modest price.
Just ten miles due south of Arles, the Michel family stewards the lovely Mas de Valeriole, a 45-hectare estate founded in the early 15th century and purchased by the Michels in the late 1950s. Around the turn of the century, brothers Jean-Paul and Patrick Michel focused their energies on improving the estate's wines, adopting organic viticultural practices in 2006 (certified today) and refining their approach in the cellar; today, the next generation is beginning to assume greater responsibilities, and there are exciting projects in the pipeline here.
Mas de Valeriole's vineyards, which today comprise 32 of their 45 hectares, encompass a variety of soil types: sand, clay, limestone, and alluvial loam deposited by the Grand Rhone. A reliably steady wind blowing in from the Mediterranean mitigates the Provence heat, facilitating their chemical-free approach to farming and ensuring modest alcohol levels for the wines. Produced from a variety of grapes, including Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, plus crossings like Caladoc (Grenache and Malbec) and Marselan (Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon) which are particularly well-suited to the Camargue's climate, Mas de Valeriole's wines combine the breezy freshness one expects from Provence with a sense of wildness and an underlying salinity that is very Camarguais.