The Café at Château La Coste

June 23, 2015

Château La Coste sits in rolling vineyards north of Aix-en-Provence. It is owned by reclusive Irish property investor Paddy McKillen and managed by his sister. He has been putting enormous investments into its newly biodynamic vineyards; a new winery, designed by Jean Nouvel, and an Art Centre designed by Tadao Ando alongside the property’s original 1682 villa and farm buildings. Linda and I went for lunch in the café of the art center on June 2, 2015.

Scattered among the vineyards are works of art by prestigious sculptors and architects. One can take a two-hour art walk among these, but we did not have the time. We did enjoy the works near the art center. One can also take a guided two-hour wine tour.

This is the Frank Gehry Music Pavilion for concerts.
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Linda is taking a photo of Louise Bourgeois’ Crouching Spider 6695. It is installed above a reflecting pool on top of the large covered parking area.
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We were among the first to arrive in Tadao Ando’s open-air café.
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The pool surrounds the dining area on three sides. In it is Alexander Calder’s “Small Crinkley.”
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Through the trees above the informal terrace for snacks one can see the 1682 farm buildings with the wine shop in the one on the right. Beyond the photo to the right are the contrasting shining metal futuristic Jean Nouvel winery buildings.
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In the entrance to the café are displays of fresh bread and of wines of the château available by the glass, carafe or bottle.
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Tapenade with croutons and a bread basket were put on the table.
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We had glasses of Château La Coste’s 2013 Les Pentes Douces Blanc (Vermentino 70% Sauvignon blanc 30%.)
I had a glass of 2011 Les Pentes Douces Rouge (Grenache 40% Syrah 40% Cabernet sauvignon 20%.)
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Our genial server advised me that this would be better with the luncheon cuisine than their more tannic grand vin. The wines were very nice and a real bargain, both at the café and in the shop. We would have bought some, but still had two days ahead of us when our car would be in the hot sun.

Linda ordered escalope de poulet marinée et grillée.
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This was simple, but nicely done and right for the driver on a warm day.

I was less restrained and ordered the menu of the day.
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The salmon was nicely prepared with a bit of mayonnaise, lime juice and herbs from the garden, which also furnished the mesclun salad.
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This was not really a classic blanquette de veau as listed on the menu. It was browner and richer. Very good though. Underneath was the typical French approach to wild rice: 10% undercooked wild rice grains in 90% properly cooked white rice. The only place I have ever had decent wild rice in France is at our house, where it surprises our guests.
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The chocolate dessert with a warm center, into which one could add thick cream, was excellent.
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We thoroughly enjoyed our lunch, which was just right for the bucolic and artistic ambiance. The service and pace were perfect.

This was the view back to our table as we were leaving, with Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Infinity in the pool.
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One Response to “The Café at Château La Coste”

  1. Blair ridder Says:

    The French are such amazing cooks that their ineptitude with wild rice is all the more confusing. Properly cooked wild rice is delicious.

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