September 3, 2010 Domaine de Trévallon
Domaine de Trévallon Vin de Pays des Bouches du Rhône
cabernet sauvignan, syrah
I have to start with the label.
It is the art of René Dürrbach, father of the domaine’s owner, Eloi Dürrbach. He was a painter, sculptor, designer of stained glass, including the exquisite panels at la basilique Notre-Dame d’Espérance in the northern French town of Charleville-Mézières. The senior Dürrbach was a friend and contemporary of Léger, Delaunay, and Picasso. He died in the year 2000, at age 89.
He rarely painted toward the end of his life, but took on the challenge of working on designs for the Trévallon labels. As his son tells it, ‘I gave him 50 posters and he began drawing on them, following his inspiration, using coloured crayons. Each year we choose one of his label designs that relates in some way to the characteristics of that year’s wine.’
What wonderful provenance in a label. The piece chosen for the 2001 vintage, Eloi Eürrbach says, ‘is exuberant like the wine.’
Domaine de Trévallon Vin de Pays Des Bouches du Rhône 2001
There hasn’t been a bottle that I have uncorked with greater anticipation. And what pours gives only pleasure. The aromas are richly untamed, seemingly laced with garrigue, that scrubland of softleaved bushes and herbs — wild lavender, thyme — often found near the Mediterranean. (Wet animal fur has brushed lightly against the bushes.) In the mouth the cassis of the cabernet sauvignan mixes with the smoke of syrah, the two warmly balanced. Intense and brooding with fruit, polished without foregoing its earthiness. It is honest art of the terroir. $$$
Domaine de Trévallon is the heart and soul of ELOI DÜRRBACH. An architecture graduate, he returned to family land in Provence, 25 km south of Avignon, on the edge of Les Alpilles. He literally blasted apart the limestone and worked it through the soil in preparation for planting. He experimented first with traditional grape varieties on these north-facing slopes, without much success. For his reds he settled on the two varietals that have come to define his domaine, planting them in equal proportions. His initial vintage was in 1977. In 1993 the rules for the appellation were changed, restricting the proportion of cabernet sauvignon to 20%. The domaine lost its AOC designation. The defiant Dürrbach continued on as before, his wines’ international reputation carrying the day.
As Dürrbach says, in his 17 hectares of vines and in his cellars he strives to ‘follow Nature’s lead.’ No pesticides, no insecticides. Only sheep manure to enrich the soil. Close pruning and late harvest. There is no destemming, no added yeast, no temperature control during the fermentation. The red is aged in both barrels and large oak foudres for two years. For the 2001 vintage there was only one racking. The wines are bottled non-filtered.
Domaine de Trévallon’s reputation has been built on Dürrbach’s strict criteria of quality over economics. He decided no wine would be forthcoming from the cold, rainy season of 2002, and very little from the extreme heat of 2003. If the wine carries the artful Trévallon label it does so with absolute pride in what will be eventually poured into the glass.