Fifteen miles east of Aix is Domaine Richeaume, snug up against the jagged limestone flank of Mont Sainte-Victoire. The domaine was founded in 1972 by Henning Hoesch, an historian and classical cellist with an environmental bent, and from the beginning he farmed along strict organic principals. He was one of the first in modern Provence to do so, just as he was one of the first in the region to plant Cabernet Sauvignon. Some 35 years later, organic farming is now the rage. As for Cabernet, that world favorite, it’s now a staple in Provence. In this arid land, Cabernet the wine takes on a rugged, garrigue-infused profile that can’t help but kick stones at the soft international model.
The domaine has 200 acres of land, with 60 planted to vines. Grape yield is kept to a very low 15 to 25 hectoliters per hectare. In addition, the Hoesch family farms 12 acres of olive orchards, 50 acres of grain, and maintains 75 acres of pasture for sheep (around 100 head). It’s a polyculture farm, as it had been down through the ages, and Henning Hoesch intentionally maintained this culture as a way of preserving natural balance. Manure from the sheep is composted with other organic material grown on the farm, and then spread in the vineyards and orchards.
Henning’s son Sylvain became involved in the domaine’s operations in 1992. In 1996 Sylvain did a stint at California’s Ridge Winery, and he returned to work at Ridge again in 2000. He was a keen student there, and became close to Paul Draper, who taught him valuable lessons about grape maturity and tannin management. The result, as Andrew Jefford writes in The New France, is that “the wines are far denser and more succulent than in the past…The Cabernet is beautifully crafted, with mingled currant and cinder flavours, while the Syrah achieves a perfumed lyricism closer to the northern Rhône style than the south. The Cuvée Columelle is one of Provence’s great wines: a complex, finely detailed selection of the estate’s best Cabernet, Syrah, and Merlot over which the perfume of sweet thyme seems to blow.”
Vin de Pays de Méditerranée Columelle Rouge, 2012 SOLD OUT
Vin de Pays de Méditerranée Les Terrasses Rouge, 2012
Vin de Pays de Méditerranée Tradition Rouge, 2013
Vin de Pays Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012
Vin de Pays de Méditerranée Rose, 2014 SOLD OUT