Domaine Milan - Le Vallon - 2018

Domaine Milan - Le Vallon - 2018

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Red & black fruits, smoked with spices and savory herbs, medium body

Grapes are 100% hand harvested from 23 year old vines. All three grapes macerate for 5 days together, then grapes are pressed and fermentation finishes quickly after. All in concrete tank bottled without fining or filtering.

Farming: Organic

Vegan

From the moment Henri Milan planted his first vine at just 8 years old, he knew viticulture would be his life’s passion. In 1986, he took over the family property in the foothills of Provence’s Alpilles mountain range with the grand intention of growing the best, most characterful fruit the diverse soils there could yield and bottling as a domaine instead of selling to the local co-op as his parents had done. Milan began working organically as early as 1988, but many of the vines weren’t hardy enough to survive the conversion from conventional farming. With the help of famous microbiologist Claude Bourgignon, he created a soil map to serve as a guide for how to replant. The duo identified zones of blue marl laced with limestone and other zones characterized by Quaternary-based gravel and yellow sandstone. Focusing on grape varieties best adapted to the individual soil types and producing site-specific wines, they felt, was the way forward. The best suited varieties, however, were not necessarily those prescribed by the Baux de Provence AOP, so Milan withdrew from the appellation system in 2007, declassifying his wines to Vin de France and cementing his reputation as the region’s rebel.

Grapes: Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault

In the late 20th century, Grenache was the second most widely planted grape in the world, concentrating all over Spain and southern France. It is believed to have originated in Spain before being planted in the vineyard lands north and south of the Pyrenees, particularly in Roussillon, which at the time was ruled by Spain.To date, France has the world's largest Grenache presence, with over 216,000 acres in 2011 - more than any variety in the country except Merlot. Until recently, it has not been widely known as a drinking grape as it has historically been blended with other varieties with more structure. Grenache produces very fruity, rich wine with varying degrees of tannin depending on the degree of water used during farming.

Syrah is one of the noblest and most fashionable red wine grapes globally. It is thought to originate in southwest France and is the most widely planted grape of Australia (Shiraz). California growers rushed to plant the variety in the last 20th century. There were barely 400 acres of it in the state in 1992, but that number surged to over 17,000 acres by 2003. Single varietal Syrah wines are typically characterized by savory plum and herb flavors.

Cinsault is a red wine grape that has commonalities with Grenache. The wine it produces tend to be light, soft and when youthful - aromatic and cherry essenced. Cinsault is also commonly found in northern Africa, specifically Morrocco, where it was imported during the mid 19th century. This grape was crossed with Pinot Noir to create the hybrid Pinotage which is a well respected grape, commonly found in South Africa. Cinsault is the fourth most widely planted grape variety in France, and is especially important in Languedoc-Roussillon. It is also widely used for rosé wines in Provence.

Region: St. Remy de Provence

Country: France

By the year 1996, Henri Milan had several conversations that would change the way the domain produced wine. One was with renowned soil expert Claude Bourguignon, who suggested that Milan should use the different vineyard sites to produce different wines. The terroir is suited well to growing vines based on the soil types. Blue marl, limestone, clay and yellow sandstone all offer the chance for wines with a powerful connection to the natural environment from which they came. Now they host varieties such as Grenache, Grenache Blanc, Syrah, Muscat, Rolle, Roussanne, Mourvedre, Chardonnay and Cinsault.

Like much of Provence, Domaine Milan’s terroir is marked by the push-and-pull forces of its warm Mediterranean climate and the influence of the powerful local wind known as “Le Mistral,” which serves as a natural air conditioner and protects vines from insects, mildew and other possible afflictions. The vineyard’s geographical situation near the Alpilles shelters it further from the elements and contributes to its unique soil makeup. The Milans are committed to biodynamic practices, work the vineyard by horse and use only native yeasts for fermentation. They bottled their first no-sulfur cuvée in 2000, years before it was fashionable, and never submit their wines to filtration or harsh pumping.

Tasting: Red and black ripe fruits, smoked with spices and savory herbs, medium body

Pairing: Pork with Herbs de Provence spices, lentil mushroom and sage stew