On a recent trip to Provence I met with Ana Lopez from Domaine Dalmeran for a tasting of their red, white and rosé wines. The domaine is located in Les Baux-de-Provence AOP, a region that makes organic and in many cases, biodynamic, practices a thumbprint for the appellation. I’ve written widely about the AOP so please see the bottom of this post for resources and to learn more.
Records dating back to 1531 indicate that vineyards and olive trees were cultivated on the grounds of the estate. In this part of Provence, many wine domaines also grow olives, a side-by-side display of beauty and taste that exhibits the richness of Provence through local agriculture. Domaine Dalmeran rests on the site of an ancient Roman route, the Via Domitia, which has left ruins and artifacts – large and small – peppered throughout the region. Nearby in St. Rémy-de-Provence, Les Antiques represent some of the best Roman structures still intact and imposing. In honor of this ancient heritage, Dalmeran wines are labeled by vintage in Roman numerals on the bottle. But don’t worry, if it doesn’t make sense, the year in printed typically on the back!
The rosé is particularly interesting to me, as it is an made as a saignée, which is a unique process where the rosé is produced by a ‘bleeding off’ of juice after contact with red skins, followed by a fermentation of the rosé wine. The more traditional method in Provence is direct press, but the saignée method is said to produce lasting rosé, with substantial body and complexity. I found this to be true in the case of the rosé from Dalerman, which was quite grown-up and lasting…delicious for sure. Made of Grenache, Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon with an EcoCert label, this is an expressive wine that should be sampled along with other Provençal rosés. Lopez expressed that Dalmeran intends to see their wines age in the cellar, and this is also the recommendation for the rosé — less gulp-able freshness and more solid structure.
We also experienced the Dalmeran 2010 rouge, which was aged for 24 months in barrel and is released five years after bottling. Grenache, Syrah and Cabernet-Sauvignon comprise the blend, each contributing equally. The grapes are hand-harvested and farmed organically, though the current release isn’t bottled with an organic label as the certification is only a few years old (acquired in 2011), however the practice of avoiding chemicals has been the preferred course of cultivation for many years.
The estate also crafts Basitide Dalmeran, a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cabernet-Sauvignon and Cinsault which is aged for 18 months in oak and is sold three years after harvest. Vintages 2011 or later bear the EcoCert label and the average age of the vines is 30 years. Lastly, there is an exceptional white wine, Dalmeran en Blanc, a Grenache, Clairette, Roussanne, Bourboulenc blend that can be aged up to five years. This wine exhibits the richness of a southern Rhône white, reminding us that Les Baux-de-Provence is just down the road from the famed southern Rhône crus.
Domaine Dalmeran is open to visitors year-round, and each season will no doubt prove to express the beauty of Provence in her own way. We were there during lush spring, and a walk through the garden was verdant, fragrant and fresh. In June, the lawn will be filled with hundreds of music lovers for the jazz concert which is a highlight of the Dalmeran year. I can imagine winter, with the sparse foliage, and in fact there is a hint at what beauty rests deep within the quiet wood of a bare tree in the work of landscape artist Marc Nucera, who carves imagination into the remains of dead trees on the property.
Lopez told me that the domaine doesn’t make technical wines, but that the blend remains the same (an equal share between varietals) and varies simply by the vintage. The domaine is serious is presenting pure, terroir-driven, synthetic-free wines of top quality.
This induction into a sense of place, a life-giving aspect in Provence, is evident on the grounds of Domaine Dalmeran. Located in the heart of the Alpilles mountain range, this estates rests in what my husband I consider to be our spiritual wine home. The Alpilles are a spot of constant change based on a bedrock of ancient understanding. The clouds blow across the blue sky to project shadow and light that is expressively real, a sensation that falls upon the skin, the eyes and the heart…making moment after moment memorable and consequential. The gardens at Domaine Dalmeran capture this play in an incredible way. A beautiful setting.
45, Avenue Notre-Dame-Du-Château
13103 Saint-Etienne-du-Grès(France) Tél. : (+33) 04 90 49 04 04
For more on Les Baux-de-Provence and the wines of the region visit:
Domaine des Terres Blanches in Provence WineZine
Les Baux-de-Provence in binNotes
Wine Tasting Guide to Les Baux-de-Provence in Luxe Provence
Inspired by the Wines of Provence in The Good Life France