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2014 Domaine de Trévallon Blanc, Alpilles
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René Dürrbach, painter, sculptor and friend to Picasso, purchased Domaine de Trévallon in 1955 so that he would be able to retire in a more peaceful area. He always believed that the encompassing scrubland would be capable of producing fine wines.
In 1973 Eloi Dürrbach moved from Paris after studying architecture, to create a winery on his parents' property. He had to dynamite part of the hills surrounding the domaine to create the vineyard in the heart of this extraordinary landscape, halfway between Garrigue and Limestone.
The vineyard of 20 hectares is made up of a large number of small plots, all located within a 2 km radius of the winery. The vines are cultivated naturally, in accordance with time-honoured tradition, without the use of insecticides, chemical fertilizers or herbicides.Domaine de Trévallon is located in the Medieval town of Les Baux-de-Provence, 30 km due south of Avignon, marginally closer to another photogenic Roman out-post: Arles. The proximity to the Southern Rhône in vinous terms is an important qualitative indication, but one must also underline the inherent differences, and stress the nuances and genius that have allowed Eloi Durrbach to make the greatest of all Provençal wines.
Whereas Châteauneuf du Pape glories in heady Grenache and brooding Mourvèdre, Trevallon is an equal partnership of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Cabernet has found a natural homestead in the relative altitude of the slopes of the Alpilles, its generous black fruit core held in counterpoint by the purity and focus of the Syrah.
The assemblage aroused suspicion in the authorities and in 1993 the wine was effectively down-graded from an Appellation Contrôleé Coteaux de Baux en Provence to the seemingly humble Vin de Pays des Bouches du Rhône. Eloi was unmoved; he knew that the blend was the right one and that Trevallon would quickly take its place at the High Table of great Vin de Pays of the world, where, despite impressive competition, it has held court with great eloquence ever since.
Marsanne is the predominant white grape variety grown in the Northern Rhône where it is used to produce white St. Joseph, Crozes-Hermitage, and Hermitage. It is a tricky grape to cultivate, being susceptible to diseases and being particularly sensitive to extreme climatic changes - if growing conditions are too cool, then it fails to ripen fully and produces thin, insipid wines, while, if too hot, the resultant wines are blowsy, overblown and out of balance.
In the Northern Rhône it tends to be blended with around 15% Rousanne and produces richly aromatic, nutty wines which age marvellously - the best examples are from Hermitage and particularly from Chapoutier. Increasingly it is being grown in the Southern Rhône and Languedoc Roussillon where it is bottled as a single varietal or blended with Roussanne, Viognier, and sometimes Chardonnay. It is also grown very successfully in Victoria in Australia where some of the world`s oldest Marsanne vines are to be found.