Domaine la Garrigue was founded in 1850 by the same family that runs the property today, Famille Bernard. Brothers Maxime […]Keep Reading
Domaine la Garrigue was founded in 1850 by the same family that runs the property today, Famille Bernard. Brothers Maxime and Pierre Bernard, of the 5th generation, are at the helm of the estate, with Maxime acting as general manager while Pierre focuses on the family’s restaurant nestled in the hills below the Dentelles, Les Florets. Their wives, children, nieces, and nephews all have roles at the Domaine, and there is plenty of work for all, as this is the largest Domaine in the appellation, covering 83 hectares. They farm vines of Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Syrah, Grenache Blanc and Clairette on the three primary terroirs of Vacqueyras. Their vines’ average age is about 50 years old, with some vines well over a century. The reticent but talented Virginie Combe, a member of the 6th generation, is in charge of the winemaking.
The traditional structure of the family business carries through to the wines as well. Farming is sustainable – as much for its inherent benefits as a seeming distrust of modernity. In fact, a visit to the cellars is like stepping back in time. There’s nary a barrel in sight, and the walls are lined with concrete tanks and stainless steel fermenters. Fermentations are conducted on the stems, and macerations are long and gentle, followed by reductive aging in concrete. As a result, the natural ferocity of the terroirs of Vacqueyras is captured and preserved in each bottle. These are not shy or polished Rhônes but engaging and forceful examples hearkening to the past. Tasting through a series of tank samples of mono-varietal wines, you can notice subtle differences, but the overall impression is a shared sense of place and the epitome of Vacqueyras.
European Cellars has worked with Domaine la Garrigue for several decades, and we’ve witnessed a gradual evolution of the wines. They have become purer without losing their original charm or drastically changing their style. These wines are the very essence of Vacqueyras. The appellation itself is rather firmly in the shadow of Gigondas to the north and Châteauneuf to the west. Raised to cru status in 1990, Vacqueyras is old enough to have reasonably decent name recognition but not quite young enough for hipster street cred. There are three terroirs in Vacqueyras: the red-clay-under-galets plateau of la Garrigue (not coincidentally where Domaine la Garrigue is located), the sand soils around the village of Vacqueyras and the rocky limestone slopes at the foot of the Dentelles de Montmirail. Each terroir contributes to the final blends at la Garrigue: power from the plateau, finesse from the sand, and structure from the limestone slopes. Each terroir also benefits the varieties planted at the Domaine, with Grenache and Mourvèdre favoring the hot and rocky plateau, Grenache Blanc, and Clairette preferring the sandy soils (along with some additional Syrah, Grenache, and Cinsault), with the limestone slopes being ideal for Syrah.Close