Anne Dor, the owner and winemaker at Val d’Iris is a woman of a strong character. As with her wines, her intense personality penetrates deep under your skin, filling your veins with an intoxicating energy.
The winemaker at Val d'Iris
Yet, do not be afraid of this former veterinary, who took over an iris plantation in the valley, added more vines, and transformed their grapes’ juice into a bottled joy. Just be on time for your appointment and engage in a sensory appreciation of her cuvées, blancs, rosés and rouges. [blends, whites, roses and reds]
Val d'Iris
Locally grown irises were once used in perfumes manufactured in the nearby Grasse, the perfume capital of the world. The ‘Valley of irises’ (Val d’Iris) may had lost its fragrant appeal, but it remains charming, tranquil and abundant with the joie de vivre of its inhabitants. Favourably located near to a medieval village of Seillans, that perched high above a plain stretches widely towards Fayence is the gliders paradise. Often considered to be the best sailplane flying in Europe, the enthusiasts of this adventurous aerial sport whizz above your head like seagulls around the Mediterranean. Anne Dor’s husband is one of them. As he almost daily takes off up to the skies, his wife has plenty of solitude to contemplate over the vines planted around their Provençal stone house.
Tasting room at Val d'Iris
Inside the winery’s exotically-themed tasting room rough natural fabrics are spread on the cold bare stone seats and leaning photographs of indigenous people contrast with the stone house’s typical Provençal setting. Yet, this speaks volumes about the proprietor’s unconventional character. What  brought me to Val d’Iris, was their Cuvée Eva. This supple, meaty and round red blend of by a barrique softened Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah is named after one of Anne’s children. I like to order at L’Escourtin, one of my favourite restaurants in the area. Anne Dor has three children and she admitted that after naming one wine after one of them, the rest must followed. Thus, avoiding any rifts between the siblings, the Cuvée Léonore and Grand Foudre were born. Both are not made every year since the winemaker seeks favourable weather conditions for the specific grape varietals used to make these wines. Tasting of recent vintages broadened my preference for all of her red wines, except the basic Granache, which was just too acidic and almost barked aggressively at me. The Grand Foudre enchanted with its freshness and the juicy fruit of Merlot, while the Cuvée Léonore spiced up my mouth with paprika, cayenne and black pepper in the finish after a dense fruit richness that formed the backbone of this wine.
Wines at Val d'Iris
The whites based on Rolle (Vermentino) also impressed my sensory buds. In particular the Blanc Saint Vincent 2012, that was kept for 18 moths in a barrique, showed the potential richness of this Italian grape varietal popular in the Var region of France. As I sniffed the wine I felt like I was standing in a meadow of wild flowers where bees were labouring sticky honey the scent of which whiffed through the air. Quince, ripe pear and honeyed flavours were balanced by the bitter backbone characteristic for Anne Dor’s wines. The rosé from the newest vintage (2013) could be proud of its Provençal heritage. Delicately aromatic with floral undertones and again – an awakening bitter shot in its spine kept me straight up as if I chewed on a tart grapefruit. Cinsault and Syrah in this blend made by the typical bleeding method (short maceration of the grapes skins) in Provence were lively yet intriguing. Val d’Iris Cellar visit is only by appointment, so call up ahead and enjoy!
 Mon-Fri: 11am-6pm & Sat: 11am-5pm.
 +33 4 94 76 97 66;
 341 Chemin de Combe, 83 440 Seillans.