Domaine de Trevallon
There's a trick to making great wine in Southern France: one splash of the North.
The South provides sun and warmth, ripeness and opulence. It offers the "garrigue" -- those herbes de provence that we love to inhale for a momentary vacation in the hills. The South is great.
But it's not enough. You need that cool-climate magic that permeates France's North.
Trevallon found their Northern magic. First, they planted Cabernet Sauvignon, the decidedly un-opulent, structured grape that we don't think of as Southern at all (though it was widely planted there before Phylloxera). They put those vines -- together with the more obvious Syrah -- on North-facing slopes for coolness.
And the soils themselves--deep and chalky--would look at home as far north as Champagne, and are perfect for bringing brightness and a northern edge to Provence's sunny wines.
It's not an obvious formula: a deep south domaine with Cabernet, limestone soils, and north-facing slopes. But it works and it was just the start of Trevallon's genius. They do everything right, and with devotion. The farming is all organic, with an emphasis on deep root penetration and low yields. The winemaking is decidedly natural and non-interventionist. Fermentations are whole cluster. Aging is virtually all in neutral foudres.
The wine is officially cult in France. It isn't at that level in the U.S., yet, though it certainly deserves to be and definitely has a fervent following that contact us regularly wondering where the new release is.