Domaine Richeaume - Côtes de Provence Wine
In 1972 German expatriate and former Yale law lecturer Henning Hoesch decided to quit the rat race and develop an organic vineyard on the Massif de Cenge beneath the majestic backdrop of Mont Sainte Victoire. He planted a selection of Bordelais and Mediterranean grapes and eschewed chemical fertilizers and pesticides at the height of their state-sponsored popularity. In 1996 he was joined by his son Sylvain who had been mentored in wine-making by Paul Draper at the acclaimed 'Ridge Vineyards' in Santa Cruz, California. The 'Draper' modus operandi is still evident at Domaine Richeaume in fastidious blending and deft deployment of oak, producing sleek concentrated wines of terrific character. It is probably fair to say that 'if you like Ridge you'll like Richeaume', which is high praise in our opinion.
Although technically lying within the 'Côtes de Provence' appellation, Sylvain prefers not to be fettered by regulation so declassifies his wines to humble IGP Méditerrannée' classification. His white 'Cuvée Tradition' is made from a base of Clairette and Rolle along with a soupçon of both Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. It is matured in French oak barrels (40% new) for 12 months before bottling and has alluring wild flower and lime blossom scents and a persistent stone fruit palate with a long mineral-edged finish. Its red sibling belies its name with an unorthodox cépagement of Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache Noir and Tempranillo. It undergoes a 14 month élevage in French and American oak and is a hedonistic Old and New World hybrid with lots of glossy black fruit aromas and flavours, wild herb notes, peppery undertones and sleek tannins. It is readily approachable from release and will cellar well for a decade. A second red bottling, called 'Cuvée Columelle' is made from a blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot vinified in new and used French oak barrels. It has much the same polish and precision but more power and concentration and benefits from decanting and 3-5+ years bottle age.