The cold, damp winter air furiously blew down the street with the cluster of brick buildings assisting to form a wind tunnel to intensify the force. New Yorkers and tourists alike shivered in their big winter coats as their frozen faces flashed a determined look to walk to their destination as quickly as possible despite the freezing wind slowing their pace. At the corner of Mercer and Prince in the trendy, popular Manhattan neighborhood of Soho there stood a sign that read “Lure Fishbar” with a drawing of a yacht on top. As one descended down the wrought iron stairs to enter the subterranean restaurant, the windows gave a glimpse into another world, one of luxury cruising. Warm smiles greeted one upon entering and the modern curvatures of the interior brought a soothing energy as well as a feeling of playful grandeur that was created by the teak wood paneling. A pale pink glass of rosé wine from Provence beckoned.
The glass of rosé was from Château Routas where family owners Keith Murray and his wife Gill were there to talk about their Provence wines which came from vineyards in a sliver of heaven in the Côteaux Varois en Provence area in the southeastern part of France, as well as explain how a Scottish family, known for their structural steel supply company, ended up owning vineyards in Provence.
The patriarch of the Murray family is an impressive man by the name of Sir David Edward Murray who started the company Murray International Metals Limited by the tender age of 23. Throughout the years more companies were accumulated and eventually the Murray Group became the most successful set of privately owned businesses in the United Kingdom. But that is not the most notable aspect of Sir David Edward Murray as he lost both of his legs in a car crash which was a year after his second son Keith was born in 1976. Sir Murray went on to establish the Murray Foundation that gives relief to those who have lost a limb or part of a limb; he was also knighted in 2007 for services to business in Scotland, hence his title of “Sir”.
Keith Murray talked about how his father, who had a great passion for wine, was taken by the Provence property they bought in 2005 that is nestled between the old, charming town of Aix-en-Provence and the white beaches of the Gulf de Saint Tropez. Their Château Routas estate is 720 acres of sustainable land that includes olives trees, wheat fields and black truffles that are sporadically hidden within the ground that goes up to 1,150 feet in altitude attributing to cooler nights. In the middle of this breathtaking landscape there is the “Devil’s Hole” which is a canyon that is 890 feet deep that was created by a meteor collision.
The vineyards of Côteaux Varois en Provence are located in the heart of “calcareous Provence” that has a mountain range that reaches 3,280 feet at the highest peak. The continental climate typically involves mild autumns and springs with hot summers that are contrasted by cold winters – more extreme in its temperature swings than surrounding regions. These factors create complex, aromatic wines with a fierce minerality at the Château Routas estate with the production mainly dedicated to rosé and a small quality of red and white wines.
Seeking Refuge During Cold, Dark Days
Those winter times in our lives can be tough with very little light, harsh cold and increased stress that is only made worse by the weather complicating everything in one’s daily life. It was a wonderful respite to sit with Keith and Gill Murray in such a whimsical restaurant that brought the calming presence of the ocean while the Murrays created picturesque images that brought Provence to the gritty streets of New York City with their wines enhancing the experience. Their kind demeanor, the pretty wines and the enchanting stories lifted a weary spirit that was most importantly inspired by the story of the man himself, Sir David Edward Murray, who suffered a significant blow early in life yet never allowed that to extinguish his passion for life, and it was lovely to take part of a life that is so well-lived and generously shared.
2018 Château Routas, Rosé: A blend of 46% Cinsault, 30% Grenache, 15% Syrah and 9% Cabernet Sauvignon. A pale pink color with fresh strawberries, bright acidity and crunchy white cherries that had wet stones and some spice on the finish.
2019 Château Routas, Rosé: A blend of 46% Cinsault, 30% Grenache, 15% Syrah and 9% Cabernet Sauvignon. Lighter in color than 2018 with ripe red raspberry with a hint of white pepper and fleshy mid-palate with a mineral finish.
2018 Château Routas, White: 75% Viognier and 25% Chardonnay. Beautiful balance of fresh flowers and juicy white peach with a hint of lime sorbet that had a good amount of body with zingy acidity.
2018 2018 Château Routas, Red: 52% Syrah, 28% Grenache and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. Rich blackberry fruit with layers of wild rosemary, saline minerality and tree bark that had well-integrated tannins.