Château La Coste

A stunning Provence wine estate.
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The Château La Coste winery. Photography by Andrew Pattman.

As I entered the property, passing rows of cypress trees, I spotted two women steering draft horses through the hilly vineyard, plowing the land as they’ve been doing here for centuries in Provence. On a hilltop stood a shepherd surrounded by sheep. Among the grapevines were olive groves and parasol pines above a sweeping valley. Our driver pointed to the winery in the distance, a silver tube in the heart of the 494-acre Château La Coste estate.

The vast vineyard property—practicing biodynamic viticulture in the Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence wine appellation—produces Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah and Vermentino, plus other grape varietals. Though its rosés are some of the finest in the region, the attractions here go well beyond wine. Château La Coste is, in fact, a whole universe unto itself. In the center is a tiny village with tasting rooms, a café and two destination restaurants—from Argentinean grill-master Francis Mallmann and Michelin-starred chef Hélène Darroze.

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An Alexander Calder mobile. Photography by Andrew Pattman.

And the whole property is an outdoor museum, with monumental installations from some of the world’s most celebrated artists and architects. A three-hour walking tour leads you past works by Frank Gehry, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Alexander Calder, Richard Serra, Sean Scully, Ai Weiwei and Louise Bourgeois, among many others.

Château La Coste is the brainchild of Irish property developer Paddy McKillen, an art patron who ran some of the most prestigious hotels in London until recently, including Claridge’s and the Connaught. His sister, Mara, who lives nearby, first introduced him to this ancient vineyard property, dating back to 1682. McKillen enlisted architect Jean Nouvel to design the space-age winery while transforming the vineyards to biodynamic viticulture (they’ve been all organic since 2009). Tadao Ando designed the glass and concrete art center. Renzo Piano constructed a sunken exhibition space. Richard Rogers created a gallery building suspended on stilts in mid-air.

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A Tom Shannon sculpture. Photography by Richard Haughton.

The vineyards, in and around these great works of art, produce elegant, expressive Provence rosés like Rosé d’Une Nuit ($18), Grenache-dominant with red fruit aromas and savory juiciness. The flagship Grand Vin Rosé ($25), made from select high altitude vineyards and indigenous yeasts, is more concentrated and complex with a touch of salinity. Château La Coste’s premium red, Grand Vin Rouge ($35), made from 80 percent Grenache and 20 percent Syrah, both hand-harvested, has floral, black fruit, spice aromas and a note of licorice.

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The all-suite Villa la Coste hotel and spa. Photography by Richard Haughton.

After introducing wine and art to the property, McKillen added accommodations in 2017, opening Villa La Coste, a 28-suite super luxury hotel on a hilltop with panoramic views of the Luberon. Some 30,000 visitors a year are drawn here, for the wine and the food, the art and the architecture. There’s nothing quite like it anywhere else.

The print version of this article appears with the headline: Château La Coste.