Eloi Dürrbach of Domaine de Trévallon believed Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon made a compelling duo in a very particular pocket of Provence. Since the early 1970s, he's proved this slice in Les Alpilles, aka the Little Alps, can produce some of France's most celebrated wines.

Trévallon is situated in the remote village of Saint-Etienne-du-Grès, a limestone goldmine on the north side of the Alpilles mountains. Driving here from Bandol on one sweltering July afternoon, I began to wonder how Cabernet Sauvignon could thrive here. But upon arriving on the northern side, temperatures quickly dropped, and I immediately felt ushered into this new land, Baux de Provence. The garrigue shrubbery of the south gave way to a picturesque roadway leading to Trévallon.

The estate covers 17 hectares of almond and olive trees and vines, most of which are planted to the latter. Cabernet Sauvignon was widely planted here pre-phylloxera, but in the 1930s, the appellation system set rules establishing which varieties could be labeled under particular zones. Cabernet Sauvignon got the boot. Still, Dürbach knew Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah achieved something greater as a blend than each on their own, so he labeled his rouge under France’s lowly Vin de Pays category.

After whole cluster fermentation, the red wines age in large, old foudre, a critical element in giving them tremendous clarity and brightness. They call to mind the dark graphite and tobacco-inflected wines of Pauillac, with the black olive and violet of Côte Rôtie. Burgundy, Rhone, and Bordeaux take the lion’s share for most significant French reds. Still, the consistency and heights that Trévallon achieves each vintage are unsurpassed. Dürrbach has won the hearts of collectors across the globe!

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