Beautiful Defiance

Today’s Story: Domaine de Trévallon

Domaine de Trévallon as it exists today was established in 1950 when Jacqueline and René Dürrbach fell in love with Alpilles and purchased Mas Chabert and its adjacent property, Trévallon. Jacqueline was a French textile artist whose commissioned tapestry of Picasso’s Guernica by Nelson Rockefeller helped pay for the domaine, and René was a sculptor and painter who was close friends with cubist movement founders Albert Gleizes, Fernand Léger, and Pablo Picasso. Eloi, the son of Jacqueline and René, planted vines on the estate in 1973 where 15 hectares are planted equally to Cabernet Sauvignon (existed there before the arrival of phylloxera) and Syrah as well as 2 hectares planted mainly to Marsanne and Roussanne. Due to great amounts of limestone in the soil and vast scrubland, great effort went into planting the vines by blowing up the soil, ploughing deep, and mixing rock fragments back in amongst the vines. In 1993, the AOC legislation authorized a maximum of 20% Cabernet Sauvignon in the vineyards and threatened to strip Trévallon’s appellation status if they did not reduce their blend from 50%. A staunch proponent of his wine’s unique personality, Eloi did not betray tradition and refused to alter his blend but rather saw the domaine knocked to the lesser Vin de Pays du Bouche du Rhône status. A family effort throughout its history, Domaine de Trévallon is joined today by Eloi’s children Ostiane and Antoine.

Domaine de Trévallon practices organic farming, methods they have used since the founding of the estate. They plow deeply in the soil to encourage vines to dig deeper in seeking out nutrients, shortly prune their vines to reduce yields but enhance the longevity of their vines, and do not use chemical fertilizers or artificial products. In the cellar, the winemaking team practices minimal intervention and use only indigenous yeasts during fermentation. The red wines are made using 100% whole cluster fermentation and are aged for two years in a combination of foudres (95%) and barrels (5%), while the whites see one year of barrel aging. The wines are racked as little as possible and the result is powerful wines that age effortlessly for decades.

With the backbone of art such an important aspect of Dürrbach family history, it is only fitting the wine labels display it. Though René passed away in 1999 at the age of 89, Eloi previously asked him to create 50 labels beginning with the 1996 vintage using colored pencils. The family selects a new label every vintage based on the characteristics of that unique vintage.

Today’s Wine: 2015 Domaine de Trévallon Rouge

50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 50% Syrah; 13% ABV

The 2015 Trévallon Rouge is deep ruby in color with purple hues and mostly opaque. Due to its youth, I let this wine breathe for about 45 minutes before consuming and drank it over the following couple hours. The nose showcases aromas of wild strawberry, raspberry, plum, licorice, smoke, tobacco, leather, violet, wet rock minerality, and a hint of sandalwood. Once in the mouth, this wine displays notes of black cherry, blackcurrant, candied red fruits, dried forest floor, white pepper, black tea leaves, chalk, eucalyptus, and some peppery spice. This is full-bodied with high acidity, medium tannins, and a long finish. Though starting to show its elegance and finesse, I would wait another 3-5 years before popping one of these and drink it over the following decade.

Price: $65. Trévallon is always an incredible value for high-quality Southern France wines and the dedication to the craft is palpable with each vintage. I highly recommend everyone try one of these wines at least once. Pair this with roasted lamb, beef, cheese and charcuterie, or a chocolate tart garnished with strawberries and raspberries.

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