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During last winter's mad dash through France, we were finally able to visit our friends Yves Gros and family at Domaine Les Fouques, near Hyères. Located in a lovely hidden valley a few miles north of the Mediterranean, the Vallons des Borels, the estate's vines are on hillsides below wild-boar infested forests - a diverse and wild environment. The vineyard shares the farm with pens of biodynamic birds - ducks, geese and guinea hens that fertilize the vines with a little help from a flock of sheep. The estate has been organic and Biodynamic since 1991, shortly after Yves and his wife moved to les Fouques from their organic farm near Brignoles. Yves is now joined by his daugter Christelle and son-in-law Jacques Rapée who brings his nearby parcels, also in biodynamic farming, as well as his great energy and enthusiasm, to the estate. After the most delicious and healthy lunch we've ever had, we walked the perimeter of the estate, through the forest of eucalyptus, lavender, ciste and pines - Les Fouques is truly a special place, and the wines, far from the normal commercial productions of Provence, are a complex and beautiful reflection of their origins....
A few excerts from their website:
"The vineyard, cultivated in terraces, gains its mineral resorces from an ancient terroir of the First Era, an acidic soil of clay and schiste. Organic compost is applied, made and fermented at the estate and enriched by plant-based biodynamic preparations
Biodynamic agriculture, practiced at the domaine since 1991, is a search (difficult, but very motivating) for harmony between plants, animals and man. It respects the cycles of nature (solar and lunar rhythms) and by an equilibrium between animal and plant productions it creates a durable fertility of soils without the addition of fertilizers or chemical products. The fruits of the earth and the wine are thus able to fully express the potential of the terroir. The label Demeter guarantees our practice of biodynamic agriculture.
The White wine, dry and fruity with aromas of garrigue, is made from Rolle (Vermentino), Ugni Blanc and Clairette. It is vinified in 600 liter barrels, with battonage sur-lie. Serve quite cool as an aperitif , with shellfish, fish and other entrees such as tart of goat cheese.
The Red wines are supple and powerful with aromas of fruit confit, with round tannins and spicy notes. They are made with Syrah, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvedre and Carignan. The Cuvée Aubigue comes from our oldest vines and ages in wooden foudres. (The 2014 received a gold medal at Millesime Bio this year!). Serve with Coq au Vin, grilled meats and full-flavored cheeses.
The Rose wines: Generous, round and fruity, they come from a blend of Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah. Serve as an aperitif or with a summer meal under the arbor." Or anywhere else!
Domaine les Fouques has been has been certified Biodynamic (Demeter) for over 20 years, and also raises sheep, ducks, chickens and guinea-hens on their old-fashioned mixed-use farm. La Londe is their best rosé from old vines of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, and Rolle. Unlike the majority of Provencal rosés, it is made naturally with wild yeasts, giving a more subtle expression of fruit and terroir. The 2016 Rosé La Londe is a beautiful wine and a real rosé of terroir showing lovely pale pink color with subtle aromas of peach skin, raspberry, orange peel, spice and rose. The palate is light, balanced, dense and long with ripe cherry, peach, citrus, spice and saline mineral flavors. Drinking beautifully now, especially with a bit of aeration, it will improve over the next year or two and accompany an elegant ceviche, fish or chicken, salads and mild cheeses. Great sipped by itself as well, a delicious and "serious" rosé that is highly recommended!
This is one of our favorite Rosés every year and the 2016 Cuvée de l'Aubigue is a sensational wine and a fabulous value! Made from Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah and Vermentino grown on soils of clay and schist near Hyères in Provence. Biodynamic farming, wild yeast fermentation. Lovely light salmon color. Subtle and complex aromas with yellow and red fruits, citrus confit, brown spice and floral notes. The palate is full, but balanced and very refreshing with red fruits, citrus, peach, spice and mango that continue on the long finish. A great apéritif and pairs with any light summer foods. DL
Primarily Grenache, with Syrah, Cinsault and Cabernet, this biodynamic red from Provence shows deep plum and blackberry fruit aromas with earth, citrus and Provençal herbs. The palate is ripe and supple with dense black fruits, prune and brown spice lifted by bright acidity. In some vintages this wine can be a bit austere and tannic when young, but the 2014 is bursting with fruit and absolutely delicious for current drinking. Serve with grilled meats and stews, a daube niçoise perhaps, and full-flavored cheeses. Great value!
This vintage of the Cuvée de l'Aubigue Blanc is our favorite to date! A cornucopia of stone fruit and floral aromas. Quince, pear, honeysuckle on the nose, then lemon compote, herbs and mint along with perfect weight on the palate, and a long mineral finish. 80% Rolle (Vermentino), and equal parts Ugni Blanc and Clairette filling out the blend. Eben Lillie