At dinner the other night, my friends Jenny and Jean-Paul Coste poured a beautiful local rosé that I had never tasted: Domaine Guilbert. They told me how winemakers Nathalie and Guy Delacommune had purchased four hectares of vines from Dominique Hauvette in 2007 and begun making red and rosé wines under the Guilbert label. (Guilbert is Nathalie’s family name.) Madame Hauvette kept a parcel for herself, where she continues to make her highly rated wines, as she has since 1988. (But before we go further, don't you love the name Delacommune, which means "of the township"?)
So yesterday morning, a sunny--but bitingly cold--day here in
, I ran over to the Delacommune commune to buy a case of rosé and a bottle or two of red. The charming Nathalie, who had just returned from a wine-tasting trip to Provence , told me about the domaine and then invited me into her pretty kitchen so I could see the specatacular views. The Guilberts spent a full year renovating the huge old mas (farmhouse), parts of which date to the 17th century, and from the little I saw of it, their bon goût extends well beyond wine, to design and cuisine as well. Something tomato-ey and fantastic-smelling was simmering on the stove, two sweet dogs were running about, photos of three handsome children were pinned to the fridge and it all looked like one of those magazine articles we love, headlined "Provençal Winemakers at Home." Guy made a brief appearance but, dressed in warm work clothes and boots, was clearly busy; Nathalie told me they had just finished bottling the 2011 rosé and were trying to catch up on a million tasks. South Africa
Guilbert is the smallest domaine in the Appellation des Baux de Provence region. It sits amongst lavender, cypress and olive trees in the foothills of the Alpilles, the mountains so prominent in all those paintings Van Gogh did during his time in St. Remy. This is a stunningly beautiful quartier (area) that most tourists never see, just off the main road (D99) leading east out of St. Remy towards Cavaillon. It's a maze of narrow, gently winding roads, with vast olive farms and vineyards on either side. Gorgeous stone farmhouses, when you can see them, are just barely visible beyond tall gates or at the end of long dirt tracks. (Today, smoke poofed out of every thick stone chimney.) The quartier La Galine is home to the wine domaines Hauvette and Henri Milan, as well as the nightclub La Galine, which despite a ridiculously remote location on a dark, dead-end road, draws huge crowds on summer evenings. (There's also another La Galine, a welcoming roadside restaurant and bar right on the D99 that serves up good food, warm ambiance and regular boules games out back.)
The gently sloping Domaine Guilbert enjoys argil-limestone soil, natural drainage and exceptional amounts of sunshine year round. The vineyard has been organic (or biologique) for 25 of its 30 years and now produces 25% rose and 75% red from Grenache, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. (White-wine grapes will soon be planted.) The Delacommunes built a new cave/winery/bottling plant, from organic oak and pine, in 2010, where they age their reds in oak for 12 months. If you want more specific winemaking details, you can visit the Guilbert site or the vineyard itself... however this is not one of those domaines with an elaborate tasting room or a pretty shop full of local products. Individuals and small groups are welcome to taste with Nathalie or Guy in the cave (dress warmly!), but they say it's always best to call first. (Both speak very good English.) The way to the vineyard is well-marked; you'll find the street opposite the roadhouse La Galine.
Obviously, things are going well for la famille Delacommune. Their wines are being served in top restaurants in
and Paris ...and are selling extremely well in wine shops, where the red is around 18€ and the rosé is just 9.50€ per bottle. It's also available online. Further proof of their success: the couple has just purchased a second four-acre parcel, where they’ll plant more Grenache and Syrah along with Roussanne and Viognier for white wine. This should double their current 14,000-bottle production within four years. For the time being, the wines are only available in France. Provence
Thank you, Guy and Nathalie, for your hospitality, hard work and lovely wines! And thank you, Jenny and Jean-Paul, for introducing me to my new favorite rosé!
Chemin du Trou des Boeufs, La Haute Galine
St. Remy de Provence