Producer Profile: Old Provençe: black olives de Nyons, cherry orchards, Orangé de Provence apricots with the frosted kiss of alpine foothills, even the round and gritty black truffle in the winter – the Drôme Provençale is indeed Old Provençe. Geographically this area, that in many ways feels suspended in time, operates as the northern gateway to Provençe proper, where you’ll find ancient perched villages, lavender fields, and olive groves. Laurent Clapier of Mas Théo works in this unique area of France, tending his family’s farm now for over 20 years. The property covers 33 hectares of vines with an accompanying 23 hectares of various meadows, and 16 hectares of lavender. An impressive family farm that’s been with them for over 4 generations. The first vintner of the family was Laurent’s great-grandfather Gabriel Théolas, who was a renowned paysan-vigneron in the region, so much so that what had been the otherwise anonymous fields he’d tended became known as Mas Théolas, a kind of Provençal term that denoted everywhere he worked was essentially ‘his farm.’ Several generations later, “Mas Théo” still stands as an homage to Gabriel as well as to mindful farming (now a decade on with biodynamic certification) and longevity. Which is to say: these are vines that show what’s possible if you simply give things a bit of time. Beautiful, singular wines that situate themselves perfectly between the Southern Rhône & Provençe.
Vinification & Tasting Notes: Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre. In 2016, following a tough vintage, Laurent ended up with a batch of juice that had failed to finish fermenting. Instead of manipulating the juice with chemicals to manually restart the fermentation process, he decided to simply wait and see what would happen if he left it alone. He was right to do so, because, after four years of a slow, steady fermentation, the wine finished on its own. Perfectly balanced acidity, ripe cherry/blackberry, subtle tannin and a hint of baking spice. Ideal cold-weather red.