Carved in to northern slopes of Provence’s Alpilles are the spectacularly beautiful vineyards of Domaine de Trévallon. The vines are planted into the hillsides’ steep, chalky, white limestone soil, making the mountains that protect them look as if they are always covered in snow.
René Durrbach purchased this estate and farmhouse in Saint-Etienne-du-Grès, in the Bouches-du-Rhône, for his family in 1955, as its idyllic beauty inspired his painting. René was part of a circle of painters that included Pablo Picasso, Fernand Léger and Albert Gleizes. While René had always thought the estate would be a great place to make wine, it was not until the early 1970s that his son, 23-year-old Eloi, began blasting the mountains and planting his vines. He planted Cabernet Sauvignon, which was rare outside Bordeaux. Grown here, the grape is very spicy, with notes of cinnamon and pepper; its tannins are perfectly mellowed by the region’s late-harvest Syrah.
Eloi produced his first Trévallon wine from the 1976 harvest. He quickly gained notoriety among the top restaurateurs and sommeliers across France, who clamored for these intoxicatingly unique wines from this unique terroir.
An AOC appellation was created for the region 1985, and in 1991, regulations for Les Baux de Provence appellation were changed, with a decree that wines here could contain no more than 20 percent Cabernet Sauvignon. Eloi refused to change his blend or sacrifice his quality, and Domaine de Trévallon was downgraded to a “Vin de Pays” in 1993. Undeterred, Eloi increased his prices and continued to grow his business, enjoying a cult-like following among oenophiles to this day.
Once you taste this distinctive wine, it is easy to understand why no one cares about its classification, as there is no other wine in the world quite like it. The vineyard’s elevation tempers the heat of Provence, and the cool climate helps create fresh, bright wines boasting high acidity and floral notes, with Cabernet Sauvignon providing structure and firm texture. Like great Bordeaux, these wines age exceptionally well. In addition to his famous red, Eloi produces one white, a blend of Roussanne, Marsanne and Chardonnay. It is rich and weighty, redolent of honey and verbena. He also produces wonderful small-batch olive oils from fruit he harvests each year when the wines are finished.
Today, Eloi works with his wife, Floriane, employing his philosophy of minimal intervention: “The less you do, the better the wine!” Every year, he chooses a drawing of his father’s that relates to the characteristics of that year’s wines; as a lasting tribute, each Domaine de Trévallon label features the artwork of its visionary founder, René Durrbach.
Martine’s Wines is the appointed importer for Domaine de Trévallon in all of the following states: AK, AL, AR, AZ, CO, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, KS, LA, MD, MN, MS, MT, NC, NE, NJ, NM, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, UT, VA, VT, WV, WY, PR