Provence Wine – Domaine de Vallongue
Perestrello Geller searches for the best Provence wine in Les Alpilles
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Sometimes the language of wine can seem like a lot of hot air. Wine critics would be out of jobs but for the ability of their twitching noses to discern the delicate scent of freshly mown summer grass. As for the French it’s all tipicite and terroir when describing their wines. According to the vignerons the smell, the taste, the whole experience of uncorking a well-made bottle of French wine should be redolent of the land where it was made.
So often it is not. This may either be the fault of the winemaker or more likely my nose:- too small, nowhere near big and Gallic enough.
Once in while though the terroir and tipicite of a wine rear up and slap me in the face. Such was the case with two reds I tasted at Domaine de Vallongue just outside the village of Eygalieres in Les Alpilles. From the moment the dark red liquid hit the bottom of the glass I was transported to the baking heat of the summer and the rich pungent smell of the garrigue herbs. It was unmistakeable, these were wines that really sung of the land where they were made.
Both the ‘Les Garrigues’ and ‘Pierres cassées’ reds are syrah and cabernet sauvignon blends. The more expensive Pierre cassées has been oaked for 6 months. The two wines are exceptionally smooth, full and round in the mouth with aromas of spices and ripe fruit. I’m writing like a wine critic now, but the wines for once justify the vocabulary, and are priced at €13 and €17 respectively.
The domaine is set in the heart of Les Alpilles, with parcels of vines distributed throughout the surrounding rocky landscape. Production has been organic since 1984. The white wines, as is so often the way with Provence wine, are mere supporting acts. Rosés are good with the gimmicky ‘Lovely’ range winning our tasting with discernible scents of peach and pear in the glass.
In addition to the Les Baux appellation wines, the Domaine offers Red and White Lirac from its sister Domaine bordering the Rhone near Avignon. The old vines red Lirac is luxury in a glass. Decant and leave to breathe for several hours for best results. The white was a little too full for me, but that is just a matter of taste. Both were priced around €18 a bottle.
Even for those who don’t like wine the domaine is a delight to visit. The tasting room hides in the hills at the end of a long avenue of pine trees. There is a trickling fountain and an ancient plane tree, pruned into an umbrella shape. Inside the tasting room is sumptuous with red velvet sofas and extravagant table decorations. It’s a place that inspires, is redolent of the south of France and is worthy destination even just to pick up some olive oil.
Provence Guru – The Insiders’ Guide to Provence, top tips:
Provence Guru is the authority on reliable, luxury villa rental in the Les Alpilles area, near Saint Remy de Provence. If you are thinking of renting a Provence villa near Domaine de Vallongue then check out our villa rental listings. Planning a day out in Provence and want to eat near Domaine Vallongue, then see our Saint Remy restaurant reviews. Rustling something up in the kitchen to accompany the wine then see our Provence food section.