Sheep & les Alpilles: the magical vineyard of Dominique Hauvette in Les Baux-de-Provence. Picture : D. Hauvette.

Hauvette, Réaltière, Terres Promises... What Provence is really about: superb terroir-driven wines and true vigneronne & vignerons.

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(NOTE: Chambers Street Wines is extremely proud to present another article by our good friend and neighbor at Racines NY, Pascaline Lepeltier. In 2014, Pascaline passed the Master Sommelier Diploma, and in 2018, she won 2 more major titles in her homeland: she is now a laureate of “Un des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France - Sommellerie” and Best French Sommelier 2018. In January 2019, the famous French magazine La Revue du Vin de France awarded her “Personality of the Year 2019," the first woman to be given this prestigious recognition.)

Today I want to talk about one of the most misunderstood wine regions in France - Provence, incarnated by three outstanding vigneronne et vignerons - Dominique Hauvette, Pierre Michelland and Jean-Christophe Comor. (All wines arrive by Tuesday, July 28)

‘Provence," just the word conjures the image of a perfect azur sky lost in the sapphire of the Mediterranean.  Undulating lavender fields contrast with the gnarly olive trees and the slender, feather-like cypresses, the ever-changing light which inspired the Impressionists.  The smell of heirloom tomato, thyme and cantaloupe, and the ocean of rosé wines.  Provence was the first area in France to benefit from the vinicultural knowledge of the Greeks and the Phoenicians after landing in Marseille. The area immediately demonstrated superb potential for grape growing, and yet, within the past thirty years has become a caricature of itself, devoting more than 80% of its production to bland, technical, and soulless “al fresco dining” wine. In an effort to capitalize on the growing local tourism, the region has become flooded by mass-market ready-to-drink rosés crafted for an international audience more dazzled by the color of the wine than the quality. 

The extraordinay Provençal light, and some hundre-year old
Carignan Blanc at Domaine de la Réaltière. PIcture: PM.

 

A large majority of Provence producers have either forgotten or abandoned the true identity of their region.  The terroir of Provence is world class, with exceptional variation, and is home to indigenous grapes able to produce artisanal haute-couture (and reasonably priced) expressions. Of course, some pioneers, visionaries, and vignerons have kept the original spirit of the region alive - the Rougiers of Château Simone in Palette, or the Tempier family or the Portalis of Château Pradeaux in Bandol.   The example they have set has influenced a few first-generation winemakers to follow the same path. So let’s talk about three of them today who are producing stunning, absolutely coherent lineups of wine with the utmost respect for the region, and let’s discover three superb terroirs of Provence. From north to south - Dominique Hauvette of Domaine Hauvette in Les Baux-de-Provence, Pierre Michelland of Domaine de la Réaltière in les Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence and Jean-Christophe Comor of Les Terres Promises in Bandol and Coteaux Varois en Provence. 

What their common points? First generation vignerons, they came to wine in their adulthood, attracted to Provence for its beauty, knowing they did not know anything, learning by themselves. They all understood the greatness of Nature, and how farming was a school of humility. All convinced about biodynamic or organic farming from the start, they also knew it was better to do as little as possible in the cellar in a region driven by technical winemaking. They understood the fantastic terroirs the region had to offer, and dedicated their production to wines with a sense of place, especially white and red. 

La Provence

Before we deep dive into the profile of these terrific vignerons and their terroir, a quick brief on Provence as a wine region. The Meditteranean Sea provides a freshness that is common to the region, but there is also an undeniable diversity created from the various grape varietals and geology found amongst the multiple AOCs. 

La Provence, a really complex region unfortunately simplified by the success of rosé. Map : B. France

 

The area spans three departments (Var, Bouches-du-Rhône and Alpes-Maritimes) with 28,000 ha or so planted (roughly the size of Burgundy) between Avignon and Nîmes (West), the Verdon river (North) and the Italian border (East) . There is no regional appellation encompassing all the vineyards - like AOC Bourgogne or AOC Bordeaux - because of the diversity of soil, microclimate, and mindset.  In order of size, you find three regional AOCs - the Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, the Coteaux Varois en Provence and the largest, the Côtes-de-Provence (totaling 20,300 ha with 5 sub-regional appellations) all mostly producing rosés.  You also have five communal (village centered) AOCs: inland - Les Baux-de-Provence (320 ha) and Palette (46 ha), and by the Mediterranean - Cassis (215 ha), Bandol 1,690 ha) and Bellet (60 ha). There is another AOC called Pierrevert in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence département, located on the Durance river between the end of the Rhône Valley and the beginning of Provence, yet almost no wine from its 420 ha are exported to the United States.  To further complicate things, all the AOCs have different rules for which grapes to plant and vinify.  This mainly applies to historical varieties for the region such as Cinsault, Mourvèdre, Grenache, and Clairette. The 1970’s brought the  import of Bordeaux and Rhône varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Sémillon, Syrah) with a certain legitimacy and success. Overall, with the evolution of climate, the region has trended towards a return to the grapes suited for the area, rediscovering the likes of Carignan Blanc, Tibouren or Braquet.
 

Each color is a differnt soil type... Map : Benoit France.

 

Provence’s geology is very complex! To simplify it, most of Provence is composed of hills and thick stretches of Mesozoic limestone sculpted by erosion like Les Baux-de-Provence or the Montagne Sainte-Victoire painted over and over by Cézanne. The terroir is primarily comprised of alluvial soils which are found in areas of valleys. Towards the east the color and vegetation changes with the igneous (magmatic) Maures mountains, geologically connected to Corsica. Veins of volcanic soils like porphyry can be found near the Estérel. By Nice, the Alps reach the sea. There is an incredible multitude of microclimates!  Finally, we must mention the presence of wind - the most important being the Mistral which is from the Rhône Valley.  These winds assist with disease prevention but they can also break the vine shoots and lead to grapes that are overly concentrated before harvest. 

A really stunning line-up of wines! Picture : LT.

 

Dominique Hauvette, Domaine Hauvette, Les Baux-de-Provence 

Today, Dominique Hauvette produces some of the most beautiful wines of Provence (and France) in her biodynamic property at the foothills of the Alpilles.  Dominique began her career in 1988 and her bottles are released when ready allowing some vintages to age.  The elegance, complexity and length of her wines is remarkable. Why are they so remarkable? A combination of great terroir and a deep, naked sensibility to the vegetal and the mineral qualities of Nature. 

 

Madame Dominique Hauvette. Picture : DH

Born in Paris, Dominique originally trained to be a lawyer.  Her trajectory began to change after her father, a successful chemist, purchased a hotel in the area in the Val d’Isère.  Her mother ran the hotel, and Dominique assisted by working in the hotel restaurant.  When not bussing tables, she gave skiing lessons to ease the loneliness of the Alps. In 1980 she went on holiday in Provence, fell in love with the area and never left, working as a house painter to get by.  In 1988 her father purchased a small property near Saint-Rémy-de-Provence with 2.5 ha of Grenache, Syrah and Cabernet, in a stunning, still wild area of Provence just south of Avignon.  It is here that Dominique’s wine story begins. For a couple of years, she learned by herself, farming organically from the beginning, enjoying being quietly alone in her farm. She knew that she would need to make a high quality wine, a “vin de garde” with aging-potential, in order to charge the price necessary for the estate to survive. She began to form relationships with vignerons who would later become her mentors such as Noël Michelin of Domaine des Terres Blanches and Eloi Dürbach of Trevallon, the latter influencing her to use whole-cluster for added structure for her reds. She did it until a tasting at La Grange des Pères with Laurent Vallée in 1998 changed her perception. Since then she has destemed. Gaining confidence in her terroir and her wines, her attunement and synergy to her vines grew, and she slowly began to buy more plots.  In 1999 she acquired 7 ha including a plot of old Cinsaults “droits” used for Améthyste.  At this point she was still working alone and doing everything herself.  In 2000, she converted the entirety of the property to biodynamic as a way to increase the energy of the plants and the soil. Combining reasoning and intuition, practicality and peasant wisdom, she has a deep, personal relationship to her biotope, including horses she raises on the property. Today, she cares for 13 ha of vines (of 17 potential).  Some  of which she has rented since the beginning while others were bought and planted over the years. Dominique also owned a property in the Roussillon where she had pastures for her horses which she sold this past Spring. The complexity of managing the vineyard at such a high level of precision has become her main priority.

Some beautiful biodynamic vines.
Picture : D. Hauvette.

The estate  is composed of two islands of vineyards within a 1.5 miles radius around the cellar. All the vineyards are on the northern side of the Alpilles, a white bright limestone mount culminating at 1,600 ft. Facing north, the microclimate is a little cooler, and strangely a little less affected by the Mistral that bumps over the Alpilles to blow stronger on the southern side. The terroir is mostly composed of lacustrine limestone from the Cretaceous, full of fossils. Some veins of red clay are running through certain plots. One specificity of the area is the “Terres Blanches” also called “Tuffeau”, which have nothing in common with either the Sancerre’s Kimmeridgian marls nor the Touraine Tuffeau (it would be too simple…).  In les Baux-de-Provence it refers to compressed veins of this Cretaceous limestone so hard and impenetrable that it looks like cement (Béton). The first time Dominique saw it she really thought somebody had poured cement and covered it back with top soil! The roots can’t even penetrate it, so the vines tend to suffer from hydric stress when planted on it. It is a type of soil that requires a special tool to crack apart the layers when planting.  Interestingly though, some of Dominique’s vineyards are located in a cadastral area called Béton (a name dating from Napoléon’s land survey), probably because of that soil!  It is her favorite vineyard today. Other plots are located in a quartier called Les Pins de Sinsare. 

When farming is the focus, Provence can be stunningly express in all colors. Picture : DH

 

Dominique farms 8 grapes - Cinsault (she shows all the potential of this grape!), Grenache, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah for both red and rosé (more than 80% of the production), Clairette, Roussanne, and Marsanne for the red. The age and plot for each variety has changed over the years, as she pulled off some old vines whose yields were getting way too low, like her old vines Cinsault who gave in 2015 and 2016 barely 6 hl/ha. Same for some of her old grenache. She replanted using massale selections from her vines and neighbors' but to make sure about the quality of the plants she will start to do field grafting in the future, as the quality of the grafts she got back from the nursery were not always what she was hoping for. Woods, edges and fields are kept around the vines. Barely any tilling is done. She realized by working in the Roussillon that too much vigor leads to too much vegetation that leads to more diseases, so she is very careful about the vegetative growth, from the pruning to the leaf-pulling and debudding. She adopts different pruning techniques depending on the variety.  She understands the importance of shade for the grapes not to burn. In the arid landscape where nothing really grows but vines and olive trees, she works on creating superior top soil. The main disease she faces is oïdium, mildiou once every ten years.  She uses only copper and sulfur with the biodynamic preparations 500 and 501, and some tisanes (nettle) and essential oils. Unfortunately, it is getting harder and harder to find the plants as the French government (most likely lobbied by the pharmaceutical industry) introduces more and more regulation against the free foraging and the trades of these herbs! 

Cement Eggs and music : the search of harmony.
Picture : DH.

In 2009 Dominique moved her cellar from her original tiny barn to a larger, more “modern” one built with the local limestone. There she has the space for 600 liter cement eggs (she was one of the first users in France) and 3,000 litre old foudres. These sizes matter very much for her, and suit the rhythm of harvest.  She also hates the taste of oak. She uses some smaller inox tanks during vinification and blending. Harvest is done by hand, earlier and earlier, with a small team. Grapes are pressed in a pneumatic press - destemmed for the red, whole-cluster for the white and the rosé.  The wines are settled overnight, and she keeps the “jus clair." The grosses lees are decanted multiple times and used for topping.  No sulfur is used until malo is finished - it happens in every wine.  Fermentations are of course spontaneous.  Macerations are long (30+ days) and very gentle for the red.  Dominique deeply believes Nature knows, and the less you intervene the better.  Some rackings may happen in the winter if she notices some reduction. The length of aging depends on the cuvées, but most are aged for at least a year. She adjusts sulfur if needed before bottling, and bottles herself. Today we are offering 4 of the 5 cuvées available in the US, missing the Dolia - her gorgeous white blend of Clairette, Roussanne and Marsanne in egg.  All showed beautifully well this week, yet they will still improve over a decade or more.  Thanks Dominique for these uncompromising, moving wines! 

PS : all the cuvées are named after different stones. Dominique is very attached to Nature and its minerality. 

 

Pierre Michelland Domaine de la Réaltière, Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence

Traveling from Dominique Hauvette to La Réaltière, it is an hour and half drive eastward, following the Durance river upstream.  Passing north of Aix-en-Provence, the road is framed with the beautiful landscapes of the National Park of the Lubéron on the left and the majestic back of the Montagne Sainte-Victoire on the right. Pierre Michelland is located here in Rians, on the extreme eastern part of the Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence. It is a quiet part of Provence shaped by the proximity of the Alps, and its seclusion is a possible explanation for why this AOC is not more known despite being named after one of the most famous cities of the area. 

Old vines, red clay high in the Coteaux
d'Aix-en-Provence. Picture : Pi. Michelland

Les Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence is in fact a large AOC (4,200 ha) divided into three separate areas.  The first is on the west touching the Baux-de-Provence near Eygualières, producing a similar profile of wine as its neighbor. The second and largest is located between the Etang de Berre, Salon-de-Provence and Aix-en-Provence.  It is flatter, warmer, beaten by the Mistral and more open to the Mediterranean influence. The last area is where Pierre is located, between Aix and Artigues, climbing up to 450 meters in elevation.  Cooler, higher, and protected from the Mistral, this area usually harvests two weeks after the others. It allows Pierre to produce wines with remarkable freshness and ample acidity provided by the daily diurnal shift (35-40 C degrees in the afternoon in August, but only 12 at night!). The winters are also cold with the risk of frost running pretty high. Most of the AOC is located on the hillsides of small calcareous mountains created from the Alps then the Pyrenees erection, but their bedrock is older: they were formed at the bottom of lakes or seas in the Cretaceous age and contain traces of veins of multicolored clay.  We know how this kind of limestone can produce very elegant wines… 

The story of La Réaltière starts with Pierre’s father, Jean-Louis, an agronomist who travelled the world with his family, working in the Pacific islands of Melanesia and Caledonia. In 1994, seeking to fulfill his dream of becoming a vigneron before retiring, he bought 8 ha of vines and 22 ha of oak trees at the foothills of the Vautubière Mountain. Unfortunately he tragically passed away in 2001.  Pierre who grew up fascinated by the ocean, quit his job in aquaculture and without knowing anything about winemaking decided to take over the domain and keep it in the family.  Following in his father's footsteps of organic farming, Pierre learned little by little, listening to like-minded vignerons (some of which belonged to the Rouge Provence association - JC Comor, Peter Fischer, Raymond de Villeneuve, etc. ). In 2010, after tasting a wine from Olivier Pithon and realizing how biodynamic farming could impact its balance, he converted the whole estate. His early observations of the Melanesian people’s relationship to nature greatly informed his approach to farming. Pierre integrates his belief in energies, resonances, and balance in his work in the vineyard. He is very careful with pruning as the vine is a perennial plant carrying her history in her wood (he shares this vision with Dominique). Considering himself a novice, he follows the lunar calendar and the preparation instructions to the letter, making one exception for the powerful silica (501). There is so much white light (no clouds and the white limestone) that this preparation applied at the wrong moment can badly damage the vines. He uses a lot of tisanes and plants in an homeopathic way to allow the plants to receive information and build their own immunity. 

Pierre and Sylvia Michelland. Picture : P. Michelland. 

 

Today, the domaine is composed of 13 ha of vines, 8.5 ha near the cellar, and 3.5 ha a couple of miles away where Pierre cares for hundred-year old Carignan and Ugni Blanc vines. 24 plots in total are surrounded by oaks, pines, cherry and almond trees in preserved ecosystems. There are some slight variations of terroir, but the base is limestone and red clay with veins of saffres (sandy sedimentary soil). From the original vines bought by his father, he had to replant quite a lot, especially old indigenous varieties - he now farms Clairette Blanche et Rose, Sémillon, Ugni Blanc, Arignan (also known as Picardan in the Rhône or Oeillade Blanche in the Languedoc), Macabeu, Bourboulenc, Carignan Blanc (a favorite of mine), Carignan Rouge, Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, all vinified in 11 different cuvées! 

Very biodynamic healthy Carignan Blanc! 
Picture : P. Michelland.

Like Dominique or Jean-Christophe, white wines are very important for Pierre, and for a good reason - he has the terroir and the grapes to produce beautiful expressions!  In the cellar it is very simple.  Grapes are hand-harvested, sorted in the vineyard, pressed whole-cluster or not depending on the variety, all fermentations are spontaneous, sulfur dioxide is barely used (around 30ppm max with some cuvées seeing only 10ppm). A lot of different vessels are used - cement, demi-muid, jarres, etc.  Most of the wines are unfiltered. Today we can only introduce you to 3 cuvées out of the 11, but all of the range is fantastic, original and in total harmony with the terroir, offering real quality for price.  His rosé “Pastel” is one of the best in the region without a doubt.  it is a real wine, hyper digestible but with length and salt, awesome for pairing or by itself!  Cante Gau are his two “top” cuvées.  The Rouge is a mix between Trevallon and Simone, combining the fresh structure and slight austerity of the former, with the fantastic aromatics of the latter.  The white belongs at the top of Provençal whites up there with Jaspe.  It is a blend based on Carignan Blanc with a small amount of Sémillon and Ugni Blanc. Chenin, Riesling, Manseng lovers, this wine is for you, showing fantastic tension, beautiful weight without heaviness and a touch of phenolic bitterness.  Both Cante Gau need time to unfold, so it is great to be able to offer these cuvées with some bottle-age! 

 

Jean-Christophe Comor, Les Terres Promises, Coteaux Varois en Provence & Bandol

 

The magical atmospher of the Sainte-Baume,
and Les Terres Promises. Picture : JC Comor.

 

I first discovered the beauty of Carignan Blanc in Provence with La Réaltière’s Cante Gau, but I truly fell in love with this grape when I first tasted Analepse, a fantastic skin-contact wine made by Jean-Christophe Comor. It is one of the most balanced macerated wines in France, with an incredibly impressive precision and sense of place.  In fact, I absolutely love to blind taste friends who doubt the potential of the region with this wine to prove them wrong!  From Pierre to Jean-Christophe it is less than an hour drive south, yet the landscape feels different after driving through Saint-Maximin. A distinct spiritual energy can be felt as you enter the territory of the Sainte-Baume Mountain.  Not even twenty kilometers from the Mediterranean coast, this ridge culminating at 3,700 feet has a long, sacred history dating back to the Celtic druids most likely attracted to the area by the number of springs. Its name comes from the expression “Holy Cave” (Baumo in Provençal) as Mary Magdalena is said to have retired in one of its caves. It is today one of the most famous Christian pilgrimages in France. And this is where Jean-Christophe Comor decided to start a second life.  In 2004 he purchased a piece of land and a shepherd’s hut at the end of the dirt road named “The Path of Perseverance” in La Roquebrussanne.  With his wife Sophie he baptized their little domain “Les Terres Promises” (the Promised Lands). 

 

Leaving the Coteaux Varois for the tuffeau cave of
La Dive. Picture : Camille Rivière

Jean-Christophe lived in Paris teaching politics until 2002. After becoming disillusioned  with the political realm he decided to leave everything behind and return to his native region. He wanted to lay down roots with his family.  He took interest in wine as a consumer.  Having an appreciation for natural wine already, it was the style of wine he wanted to produce himself.  no choice but to take care of the land. When he started he knew nothing about viticulture like Dominique and Pierre, and like them he is self taught. He began shyly and humbly, just by listening to a few vigneron friends (Marcel Richaud, Antoine Pouponneau, Antoine Arena, etc.). He avoided the use of a consultant as he did not wish to be influenced.  He was looking to learn from the dirt and the plant.  It was quite difficult in the beginning as he confronted the harshness of farming, the whims of nature and the unpleasant necessity (for him) of having to sell your wines.  But years passed by, and he succeeded in understanding his piece of land and his vines, looking for the “justesse," the balance more than any kind of ultimate truth. 

The first years of production he sold his grapes to the cooperative which produces the majority of the AOC.  By 2007, he managed to buy some vines, planted, and started to vinify with the bare minimum of equipment.  He built a proper cellar in 2015 using the structure of a shepeard's hut and the local limestone. His vines are planted on a very special calcareous soil rich in carbonate calcium and magnesium-dolomies (named after the Italian region rich in this type of bedrock). The high magnesium level helps to deter chlorosis in the vines. There are little variations of soil on the property.  When the vines will be older, he will probably extend his portfolio of cuvées to explore them. Except for the old vine Carignan (Blanc and Noir) the vineyard is quite young as he planted most of it himself.  He now farms Ugni Blanc, Rolle (Vermentino), Sémillon, Clairette Blanche and Rose, Roussanne, Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Cabernet Sauvignon. He also started a conservatory of Vermentino and Cinsault to preserve their genetic diversity. He loves white and really believes in the potential of the style in the region.  Today white represents almost 40% of his vineyards. 

Dolomies! A very specific limestone with a high content in Magnesium.
The magical terroir of Les Terres Promises. Picture : CR

 

Over the years, he was also asked to farm some small plots in Bandol, in Malisonne, le Castellet and la Migoua. It is a very interesting experience for him, as the culture between the vignerons of Coteaux Varois and Bandol is totally different, for the latter it is understood that quality is a necessity for their appellation. For him, there are real vignerons in Bandol, while there are unfortunately a lot of technicians in the largest AOCs: rosé is their cash-cow.  It is really hard to make in the cellar but you can use less than high quality grapes, so you need an oenologist more than a farmer to make your money back… Anyway, Jean-Christophe makes red and rosé from Bandol, including La Chance, the only cuvée named after the vineyard, and not starting with a “A”. He is also going to be more involved in the area, as of last spring he manages Château Salettes, an organic Bandol property whose production is mostly sold locally.

In the newly built underground cellar. Picture : Camille Rivière

 

In the winery, things are also very simple - really great grapes hand-harvested and sorted over usually quite a long period of time, from late August to October. The grapes are pressed whole-cluster or destemmed depending on the wines, and he also allows for some carbonic maceration.  Macerations are long, very gentle.  Fermentations are of course spontaneous.  Vinification and aging happen in different types of vessels.  Jean-Christophe does a lot of experimentation, always searching with a willingness to continue learning.  Sulfur dioxide is barely used, generally added a month before bottling.  His goal is to reveal the soul of the land, to make wine that invites the drinker to share, enjoy, and think about, with depth, layers and gourmandise.  Today we are not offering the whole range of his production, just 3 very satisfying and soulful cuvées:  his rosé Apostrophe 2019, a real gem, a benchmark for the style. A little more full-bodied than the Réaltière, but with the same energy - we need more of it! His "A bouche que veux-tu" 2018, is a blend of Clairette (blanche and rose) and Vermentino, varieties he really likes.  This is pure delicacy, delicious now but with real aging potential!  And finally in magnum his Bandol rosé 2016, showing how real rosé can age and gain complexity! 

If Covid-19 was an incredible challenge for these vignerons in France, it motivated Jean-Christophe to realize a project he was thinking about for a long time - a pop-up restaurant at the winery using solely local organic products.  It is now done and open, and running the kitchen you have Luca Tresse, a talented young chef, a recent alum of Boulud.  So if you are in the area  - lucky you - you should definitely stop by! Here is the link

The view from the pop-up restaurant of Les Terres Promises,
and Jean-Christopher's award-winning tractor.
Picture : Les Terres Promises

 

Thanks Dominique, Pierre and Jean-Christophe for your superb work, your commitment, your wines. It was a pleasure to converse with you three, hearing the cicadas singing in the Provençal sun.  Pascaline Lepeltier.

 

No Longer Available

Hauvette 2017 Les Baux de Provence Petra Rosé

Dominique Hauvette's Petra is a world-class wine, and it is a rosé. With this cuvée, she shows that with superb farming on exceptional terroir, whatever the color of the wine if the grapes are respected, the result will resonate and express a deep sense of place. The core of this wine is Cinsault, a grape Dominique particularly likes. The old vines Cinsault are the backbone of her Améthyste cuvée. Here she is using younger vines she planted in 2004 on her limestone soil, with a little bit of Syrah and Grenache. The grapes are  hand-harvested on the early side (early September), directly pressed, vinified and aged on fermention lees in 600 l cement eggs, a vessel and size she enjoys and adopted very early on. Both fermentations are spontaneous. She may rack the wine if reduced, and uses sulfur after racking. This a very serious bottle of rosé with backbone and structure. Its density has very little heaviness, but deserves to be aged in bottle. Very good now, this wine will be even better in a couple of years. The color is pale copper with flecks of salmon, yet don't expect any kind of oxidative notes! You would be disappointed. If the nose is discreet on the rose, sandal wood, orange zest, the palate is more aromatic, quite citrusy, with apple blossom, wormwood and white pepper notes. The attack of the palate is full with a tight, focused density, getting sleeker and sleeker to finish extremely salty. You could confused it with a white wine. Decant it if you serve it today, and don't drink it too cold. An heirloom vine-ripe tomato tart, grilled prawns with pink grapefruit relish or a veal tenderloin, shallots reduction and zucchinis could be some pretty good pairings. 70% Cinsault, 15% Syrah, 15% Grenache. Pascaline Lepeltier.

  • Out of Stock
  • rosé
  • 0 in stock
  • $38.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Hauvette 2016 IGP Alpilles "Jaspe" Blanc

Jaspe is probably the best expression of Roussanne in France. While the grape can easily become heavy and honey-like when picked too late, the specific micro-climate of les Baux and the limestone terroir of Hauvette really reveal the elegance and nuances this grape can achieve. The balance and the freshness are not achieved solely by the acidity (quite low, as the wine is doing also its malo), but with a lot of dry extracts and a remarkable bitterness, Being a reductive grape too, the bottle-aging brings more saltiness while helping the wine to lose its baby fat. This wine for sure needs some cellaring, and if 2016 is tasting great right now, it is still a baby! The 15 year-old vines are whole cluster pressed and aged in tank, concrete and steel. Dominique is very careful about the reduction, so racks when needed. She prefers though  to age this wine on its fermentation lees. Sulfur dioxide is first used after racking and adjusted if needed. 2016 was more solar then 2017, yet the wine has a remarkable tension. The nose is slightly reduced - you will want to decant this wine - but opens up quite quickly on vetiver, wormwood, white peach and grapefruit with a hint of salted pine nut. The palate starts broad but becomes more and more focused, with a creamy  and graceful texture. The nuances of bitterness bring a lot of dimension to the finish, concentrating the savory elements and balancing the ripeness. This is a remarkable wine, and its future is bright if you can cellar it. Otherwise decant it and don't serve it too cold. Pair it with a John Dory cooked in an abalone, fennel and lemon broth, a slowly roasted guinea hen with a celery and green apple purée or an aged Comté. 100% Roussanne, Pascaline Lepeltier.

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $41.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Hauvette 2012 Les Baux de Provence "Cornaline"

Behind its apparent austerity, Cornaline is a superb, age-worthy red belonging to the French first league of wines.In the northern part of the beautiful terroir of Les Baux-de-Provence, Dominique Hauvette makes some of the most age-worthy wines of the region. Farmed biodynamically on cretaceous limestone terroir, she is able to combine the unique Mediterranean aromas with a rare tension : sun, the long growing season, the precise farming are a magical combination. Cornaline is the most structured wine she produces, and over the years it is gaining more and more delicacy. As she knows quality needs time, she releases the wine with bottle age, but also let them the time in the cellar to find their balance. The grapes are coming from Béton, a specific sector Dominique really likes. Most of the vines were planted in 1993, but you also find some older ones in this cuvée which is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Hand-sorted, the grapes are destemmed and maybe macerated together depending on the harvest. Macerations are long and gentle in 3,000 l foudres. Then the wine is blended and usually aged 2 more years in older foudres. She is able now to keep it as long as needed. Sulfur dioxide is used when needed, but with parsimony. She bottled herself and may keep the wines to release them when ready. Compared to Trevallon, this is softer, more gentle expression : the trio of grapes makes total sense, with the Grenache bringing the fruit and texture, the Cabernet the herbal notes and completing the spicy tannic structure of the Syrah.

2012 was a drier vintage, but once again the terroir and work of Domaine Hauvette helped to avoid any type of stress. You would want to decant this wine and enjoy it over couple of hours to really appreciate its nuances. The nose is more on the enticing notes of the Grenache, with these sunkissed strawberry and thyme , just picking up some black pepper and olive. In the palate, the Cabernet Sauvignon gives its black currant, tobacco line, with a very enjoyable smokiness. Tannins are chalky and a little firm on opening, but within 30 min they soften up and reveal their delicacy. This wine has a bright future in front of it, so don't hesitate to cellar it. Otherwise decant it, serve it in large glass, and cook a rack of milk-fed lamb braised over vines, served with roasted eggplant and greens beans. It should be pretty nice. 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. Pascaline Lepeltier. 

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  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $58.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Hauvette 2014 Les Baux de Provence "Cornaline"

Behind its apparent austerity, Cornaline is a superb, age-worthy red belonging to the French first league of wines.In the northern part of the beautiful terroir of Les Baux-de-Provence, Dominique Hauvette makes some of the most age-worthy wines of the region. Farmed biodynamically on cretaceous limestone terroir, she is able to combine the unique Mediterranean aromas with a rare tension : sun, the long growing season, the precise farming are a magical combination. Cornaline is the most structured wine she produces, and over the years it is gaining more and more delicacy. As she knows quality needs time, she releases the wine with bottle age, but also let them the time in the cellar to find their balance. The grapes are coming from Béton, a specific sector Dominique really likes. Most of the vines were planted in 1993, but you also find some older ones in this cuvée which is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Hand-sorted, the grapes are destemmed and maybe macerated together depending on the harvest. Macerations are long and gentle in 3,000 l foudres. Then the wine is blended and usually aged 2 more years in older foudres. She is able now to keep it as long as needed. Sulfur dioxide is used when needed, but with parsimony. She bottled herself and may keep the wines to release them when ready. Compared to Trevallon, this is softer, more gentle expression : the trio of grapes makes total sense, with the Grenache bringing the fruit and texture, the Cabernet the herbal notes and completing the spicy tannic structure of the Syrah.

2014 was in the same vein than 2012, but the wine is showing a more floral expression : 2012 takes you more to Rhône, 2014 more to Bordeaux in a way, yet still tasting like Les Baux You will  want to decant the wine to appreciate its complexity, the nose bursting after 30 min or so with mountain blue berry, fresh tobacco, cedar, olive and peppercorn. The Cabernet and the Syrah are more present on the nose, while the Grenache is really showing  its aromatics on the palate : the attack is on the softer side, then sappiness arrives, mixing herbs, garrigues, a hint of red pepper, and superb bitterness (dark cocoa, cardamon). It is still a baby, but the remarkable balance is already here. Keep 10 years and more, or decant, serve in a large glass with a rosemary and garlic venison or lamb shoulder, or if you feel ambitious, a lièvre à la royale. r0% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. Pascaline Lepeltier.

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  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $59.99

  • Organic
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  • Low Sulfur

Hauvette 2015 Les Baux de Provence "Amethyste"

Amethyste is one of my favorite wines, a tribute to old vine Cinsault by an extraordinary vigneronne, Dominique Hauvette. There, in her biodynamically farmed domaine, she shows how beautiful this grape can be... For me this is the closest wine in France to Emmanuel Reynaud's wines (Rayas, Pignan, Fonsalette, Tours), these Grenache tasting like Grands Crus Burgundy by the Mediterranean. But here you are, with her old Cinsault grown on limestone. Dominique reaches this level of harmony and balance! To go along with the delicacy of that grape, she uses a little bit of Carignan for the tension, and a touch of Grenache, from the older vines she has. The result is a pure gem of a bottle, in every vintage, with a consistency of quality remarkable since the late 00s. All the grapes are destemmed and the wine is aged in cement eggs. Unfortunately, as the old vines Cinsault are giving less and less, the cuvée will evole slowly towards less of this magical backbone. You still had some in 2015 and 2016!  


In 2015, a solar vintage, the nose starts on the Cinsault and Grenache, combining some crushed wild strawberry, dried hibiscus, orange zest, iris root and oriental spices. The palate has a fake delicacy: it seems very tender with its tannins remarkably gentle but you have a real power under it! A lot of dry extract, the boost of the Carignan in the mid-palate, and the finish, caressing, lingering, revealing how Cinsault can be a complex grape. A little bit more on the plum and the dark berry on the palate. What a wine, a paradox on its own, incredibly easy to drink  but so complex  - it is really like Thierry Navarre's Oeillade meets Emmanuel Reynaud's Pignan! Serve it decanted, not too warm, in Burgundy glass, and enjoy it with a beautiful cut of meat, or even with a grilled red mullet, black olive reduction and confit tomato. 60% Cinsault, 30% Carignan, 10% Grenache. Pascaline Lepeltier.

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  • red
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  • $89.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Hauvette 2016 Les Baux de Provence "Amethyste"

Amethyste is one of my favorite wines, a tribute to old vine Cinsault by extraordinary vigneronne Dominique Hauvette. There, in her biodynamically farmed domaine, she shows how beautiful this grape can be... For me this is the closest wine in France to Emmanuel Reynaud's wines (Rayas, Pignan, Fonsalette, Tours), these Grenache tasting like Grands Crus Burgundy by the Mediterranean. But here you are, with her old Cinsault grown on limestone. Dominique reaches this level of harmony and balance! To go along the delicacy of that grape, she uses a little bit of Carignan for the tension, and a touch of Grenache, from the older vines she has. The result is a pure gem of bottle, in every vintage, with a consistency of quality remarkable since the late 00s. All the grapes are destemmed and the wine is aged in cement eggs. Unfortunately, as the old vines Cinsault are giving less and less, the cuvée will evole slowly towards less of this magical backbone. You still had some in 2015 and 2016! 

2016 was a drier vintage than 2015, but the limestone and clay terroir of the cooler part of Les Baux where Dominique Hauvette is located preserved the freshness. It is also a vintage where you understand why Cinsault is such an interesting grape, with its delicacy  : it is perfectly suited for the climate of the area!  As usual, the nose has this beautiful balance between the crushed wild strawberry, the darjeeling tea and asian spices. It is really open now. On the palate, it is Burgundy meets the Mediterranean, with delicate, slightly sweet attack, picking up some tension in the mid-palate to finish with evanescent, chalky tannins. It is a bit more structured than the 2015, playing more the dark spices. A decade in you cellar would not be a problem, but if you want to enjoy it today, decant it gently for an hour or so, and pair it with a roasted bird glazed with Okinawa sugar and Marocan spices,  some smoked duck carnitas or a hen of the woods farotto.  60% Cinsault, 30% Carignan, 10% Grenache. Pascaline Lepeltier.

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  • red
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  • $89.99

  • Organic
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  • Low Sulfur

Réaltière 2019 Coteaux d'Aix en Provence Rosé "Pastel"

Pastel is just a really great bottle of wine, and what I imagine real Provence rosé should taste like! Made extremely seriously with superb grapes farmed in biodynamics  by Pierre Michelland in the highest part of the Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence, this bottle  has the right balance between the touch of fruity notes and the floral counterpoints, freshness and body, easiness-to-drink and seriousness-to-pair-with-great-food. A blend of Cinsault (such a great grape!), Grenache and a tiny bit of Cabernet Sauvignon from plots dedicated solely to this cuvée, this wine shows the limestone soil of the area, as well as its freshness (located at 450 m elevation, the diurnal shift preserves the acidity). Hand-harvested, low yield (30hl/ha), the grapes are pressed whole cluster and fermented in cement. Fermentation is spontaneous, malo is blocked (the only wine of the estate). The wine is bottled in May with a light filtration.Pale salmon in color with some copper hue, the nose is not too exuberant but full of pink grapefruit,  lemon verbena, tangerine zest and a dash white peach. On the palate there is really great tension, with gentle bitterness, a mix between rhubarb zip and softer tahitian grapefruit zest. The finish is really salty and lingering. Definitely a crowd pleaser this wine will satisfy also the most demanding palate!  You can also cellar it 2 or 3 years without problem. Enjoy it by itself, or with any summer delicacies, it will be perfect! 45% Cinsault, 45% Grenache, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Pascaline Lepeltier.

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  • rosé
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  • $22.99

  • Organic
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Réaltière 2016 Coteaux d'Aix en Provence "Cante Gau" Rouge

Cante Gau means the crowing of the rooster. It is a call letting you know you this wine is a little brother of the big boys of northern Provence, Château Simone and Trevallon. This is the top cuvée of Pierre Michelland. Thanks to the cool microclimates and the limestone terroir where the domaine is located in the eastern part of the Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence, Pierre can produce really unique wines combining the Mediterranean aromatics with an incredible freshness. This long growing season allows for the different varieties of this blend to develop their aromatic complexity to a maximum without tasting under nor overripe. A blend of the oldest vines of La Réaltière, including hundred-year old Carignan, the grapes are hand-harvested and sorted in the vineyard, vinified and aged separately. All are destemmed, macerated for 5 weeks with very gentle pigeage, and aged 12 months in barrels before being blended and aged again together for a total of 20 months or so. Sulfur is added if necessary, but the total is never above 30 ppm. The wine is bottled unfined and unfiltered. Like the white, the red deserves some time in bottle before revealing itself. And being quite a serious wine with a high proportion of Carignan, you want to decant it and enjoy it over a couple of hours to really appreciate its layers. The nose is on the darker wild berry, concentrated but not sun-kissed, more on the black currant and cherry than the blackberry. Liquorice, Chinese spices, musk and a hint of leather are present both on the nose and the palate, yet the former has also some notes of Lebanese cedar, thai basil, and more red, soft red fruit. The grenache is really present on the attack, while the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Syrah give the length. Tannins are really elegant without any rusticity. Enjoy this wine decanted and in Bordeaux glass, or keep it 10 years or more. Paired with a lamb shoulder with eggplant and Argan oil or venison with a blackcurrant and pine needle jus. 40% Carignan Noir, 30% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Pascaline Lepeltier. 

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  • red
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  • $39.99

  • Organic
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Réaltière 2016 Coteaux d'Aix en Provence "Cante Gau" Blanc

This is for me one of the best white wines in Southern France - Rhône, Provence, Corsica, Languedoc, South-West. It is so rare to find a wine combining a expressive spine of acidity, density, texture with nuances of aromatics ever evolving with aging as you enjoy the wine. With this Carignan Blanc blend from Pierre Michelland, you are in the league of the complex Chenin, Manseng, Verdichhio or dry Riesling. And it is admirable this wine is putting back on the map a grape despised these last 50 years, for absurd reasons. But it is making a come back, and we can only be happy about - the only problem being Carignan in all color is a grape more interesting when old... But here we are, hundred-year old Carignan Blanc with a touch of old  Ugni Blanc and Sémillon, grown in biodynamics in the limestone hills around Rians (Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence). Hand-harvested and sorted, the Sémillon before the others, the grapes are pressed whole-clusters for 4 hours, then they are aged separately, the Sémillon in demi-muid, the Carignan B in demi-muid and jarres, the Ugni B in cement egg and tank. They are blended in May. Fermentations are spontaneous, malo happens. Sulfur dioxide is added depending on the pH, but the total is usually below 30ppm.This wine needs to age to be really appreciated so it is really great to be able to offer 2016 now, a vintage Pierre likes for Carignan - as it is a late grape variety, it overperforms in warmer vintages. He believes also this bottle will age really well. As usual, it is a little reduced on the nose, this salted-hazelnut profile, and should be decanted. It will deliver a subtle symphony of almond blossom. pine, lemon drop, sorrel. nougat with some sea-spray touch. The palate with its gentle austerity has a complex architecture with some tannins giving even more relief. Acidity is driving the wine, but the texture hides it. This wine offers a lot of pairing possibilities, from goat-cheese agnolotti with nettle pesto, Maine sea urchin, veal loin with confit fennel bulb, aged goat cheese. You want to bring some herbal, iodine and raciness notes to the dishes, especially if you cellar this bottle and open it in 10 years. 70% Carignan B, 20% Sémillon, 10% Ugni Blanc.  Pascaline Lepeltier.

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  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $44.99

  • Organic
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Terres Promises 2019 Coteaux Varois en Provence L'Apostrophe Rosé

The drawing on the label of Apostrophe is a tribute to the promised lands Jean-Christopher Comor discovered when he found his future property, high up in the Sainte-Baume Mountain in Provence. In this beautiful part of the region, high in altitude, he is crafting a real, soulful rosé with layers and length, at the absolute opposite of 99% of the regional production - technical, yeasted, with no sense of place. Working organically since his beginnings in 2004, Jean-Christophe really believes rosé is a legitimate style of wine when made the right way with the right grapes, and letting nature do her job - once again, the total opposite of the dominant oenological way. Here the wine is a blend of Grenache to bring the texture and the fruit, Cinsault for  the delicacy and the tension, and Carignan as a booster. The vines are 40 years-old , which guarantees a real density. Hand-harvested, the grapes are pressed directly, the Carignan one week after the other as he likes it ripe. The wine is vinified in inox, and usually the fermentations last 80 days or more!  Malo is done,  yet the wine is energetic and straight. This is the only wine very very slightly filtered, and a hint of sulfure dioxide is added one month before bottling. 


In 2019, a warm and concentrated vintage, this rosé is far from being opulent despite its ripeness. Jean-Christophe is very happy about the pep and tension it kept, and thinks it is one of his best ones! With wild strawberry, mint and marjoram on the nose, the wine shows a great balance between fruit, herbal and florality. Same on the palate, with more savory notes - caraway, fenugreek - finishing very salty. There is definitely some texture: you can keep this wine couple of years if you want, or drink it not too chilled. Pair it with  a watermelon and tomato gazpacho, Santa Barbara sea urchin  or a rabbit saddle with confit shallots. 45% Grenache, 35% Carignan, 25% Cinsault. Pascaline Lepeltier. 

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  • rosé
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  • $19.99

  • Organic
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Terres Promises 2018 Coteaux Varois en Provence A Bouche que Veux-tu?

At the end of a dirt road called "the path of perservance" Jean-Christophe Comor produces some remarkable wines on the calcareous dolomites soils of the Sainte-Baume Mountain. Working organically with a tremendous respect for the environment, he believes his terroir is perfectly suited for age-worthy complex whites, fighting again the tsunami of technical, soulless rosés produced around him. And we believe he is right! Working with a lot of different white varieties including some old Carignan Blanc, he offers a new expression of this part of Provence. "À bouche que tu veux" (roughly translated by "to your mouth what do you want") is delicious, yet complex blend of Clairette Blanche & Rose and Vermentino,  varieties Jean-Christophe is fighting for. Hand-harvested and pressed whole-cluster, the wine is partially vinified in large foudres and demi-muids, partially in inox tank than aged in enamelled inox. Fermentations are spontaneous, malo happens.  The wine sees a little sulfur dioxide before bottling.


Despite being from relatively young vines, this bottle has  a lot to offer today, and will in 5 to 10 years. Quite discreet on the nose, the palate is way more expressive with notes of mandarine zest, peach pit and gardenia. The upfront creaminess makes room for a poised freshness coming from the terroir and the delicate bitterness. Serve it not too cold, in a larger glass. So many pairings are possible here, from fried zucchini blossom to roasted langoustine with limequat or a fresh goat cheese (like the Brousse du Rove, a little cheese just made by the winery). 55% Vermentino, 45% Clairette. Pascaline Lepeltier. 

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  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $22.99

  • Organic
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Terres Promises 2016 Bandol Rosé "La Chance" Magnum

If Jean-Christophe Comor found his promised land in La Roquebrussanne, a beautiful village in the Massif de la Sainte-Baume where he produces his Coteaux Varois, he also had the chance to be able to farm organically some small plots in Bandol. La Chance comes from one of them, a 35 acre vineyard located in Le Castellet, planted with 1/3 Cinsault, 1/3 Mourvèdre and 1/3 Grenache growing on limestone and overlooking the bay of La Ciotat. As Bandol mandates to vinify in the perimeter of the AOC, Jean-Christophe used Pibarnon's cellar (he went to school with Eric de Saint-Victor) until recently when he managed to rent a small cellar: real estate is tricky in Bandol! He makes this rosé like the other wine, direct press, long fermentations including malo, very little sulfur dioxide, and if needed a very light filtration.This is such a great rosé, and a chance to enjoy it in Magnum! With its high percentage of Mourvèdre - required by the AOC, it definitely has more structure and tannins than Apostrophe, but what a freshness and a saltiness (when I tasted it out of bottle last year). I can only imagine how well it evolves in larger format. There are only 6 left in the country, so I could not taste it recently, but Jean-Christophe thinks the vintage had the complexity and the tension. I would definitely gladly pop it up and enjoy it this summer with some raw scallops with grapefruit, thai basil and ponzu sauce, or some grilled sea bream with a lemon and pea fricassée. Equal parts Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvèdre. Pascaline Lepeltier. 

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  • rosé
  • 0 in stock
  • $57.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur