Domaine Richeaume - Côtes de Provence Wine
German expatriate, former Yale law lecturer and cellist Henning Hoesch is a questing and erudite individual who was a visionary not only for the location he selected to practice viticulture but also for choosing to farm organically - long before it became popular. In 1972, he began experimenting with a mixture of Bordelais and Mediterranean grape varieties at the foot of Mont Sainte-Victoire.
Today, the wine-making is overseen by his son Sylvain - a protégé of the renowed Paul Draper of Ridge Vineyards, California - who shares his father's enthusiasm for farming naturally and making wines that are true to themselves rather than to rules dictated by the French agricultural authorities. Their vine holdings currently extend to 26 hectares but the estate also has olive groves and considerable grazing for sheep. This self-contained approach has its roots in Rudolf Steiner's biodynamic methods and a drive towards self-sufficiency which is symbolised by the domain's 'circle' logo that appears on every bottle.
Sylvain's white 'Tradition' is bottled as a humble IGP Méditerranée and is typically blended from a base of Rolle (Vermentino) along with Clairette which are grown on free-draining clay and limestone soils. The grape juice is vinified in vat and then raised in barrels of different sizes and ages on its fine lees prior to blending and bottling. With citrus and wild herb aromas, a supple stone-fruit palate and elegant, dry finish, it makes a fine partner to seafood or roast chicken.
A red sibling - also labelled 'Tradition' - is made from a diverse selection of grapes that usually includes good volumes of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache Noir. It too is raised in barrels for at least a year before the final blend is confirmed and the wine is released. The finished cuvée has a dark, purple colour, briary, black fruit bouquet and concentrated palate with a wealth of blackcurrant and dark plum flavours supported by fondant tannins. It drinks well from release (if decanted) and can cellar well for (at least) a decade.
A flagship red bottling 'Columelle' (named after a Roman viticulteur), is regularly made from Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. It has an inky hue, hedgerow berry scents and a rich concentration of autumnal fruit and plenty of tannic grip. It ages well for 5 to 10+ years and makes a fine partner to slow-cooked casseroles and daubes.