Sunday, August 4, 2013

Domaine de la Damase, a Family-run Winery for 5 Generations in the Côtes du Rhône

A few months ago, I came back to the office and Cluney, my partner at Bistro Des Copains told me that while I was out, Kenny from Hobo Wine Company had stopped in with a young Frenchman whose family owns a winery near our house in Sablet.

Cluney handed me Sébastien's card and told me he extended an invitation for us to visit and taste wines the next time we were there. A few weeks later we were back, and one day after lunch we headed to Domaine de la Damase in Violès with friends Scott and Jean-Pierre in tow.

Domaine de la Damase

As I mentioned, Domaine de la Damase is located in Violès, a small village in front of the Dentelles de Montmirail. The village is surrounded by a sea of vineyards. Quite truthfully, prior to today, we had never stopped in Violès, I guess because it's the last village before Sablet from the toll road, and we are in a hurry to get home.

Courtyard at Domaine de la Damase

The Latour family has been making wine at Domaine de la Damase since 1872 when the estate was purchased. Sébastien Latour works the vineyards and makes wine with parents Bernadette and Serge. He is the 5th generation of the Latour family to make wine there.

House at Domaine de la Damase

Domaine de la Damase is small (they have about 30 acres of vineyards), organically farmed, and might have remained obscure to Americans, at least, if it weren’t for Kenny Likitprakong, a Sonoma County winemaker and owner of Hobo Wine Company who befriended the Latour family and imports some of their wines.

Sébastien did a one-year internship with Kenny Likitprakong in Santa Cruz in 2002 which was the first vintage for Hobo Wine Company.

Pretty Petunias in a Stone Planter at Domaine de la Damase

World War II Ordinance Found in Field

Sébastien took us to a room filled with the heady aroma of wine. He pulled wine for tasting in a long pipette from the top of oak barrels full of Grenache and Mourvedre aging until ready for bottling.

Sébastien Latour Fills Glasses From Barrel

Old Wine Barrels

Domaine de la Damase Barrel Room

In the middle of our tasting, Sébastien's 98 year old grandfather Joffre walked into the "cave" (tasting room) and took a glass from Sébastien. We said "bonjour" and commented about the wine. He responded but we couldn't understand and Sébastien explained that he only speaks Provençal, a dialect of the Occitan language, spoken in the southeast part of France.

Joffre Latour

Joffre Latour seems to be a remarkable person for a man of 98 years of age; maybe there is some truth to the French paradox and red wine.

Shirley with Joffre Latour

Joffre Latour Walking in the Courtyard

The wines of Domaine de la Damase

Sébastien and his parents make wines labeled as Côtes du Rhône and Côtes du Rhône Villages Plan-de-Dieu. They also make single varietal bottlings of Grenache and Mourvedre, which because they put “Grenache” and "Mourvedre" on the label instead of Côtes du Rhône, French law says these wines are technically “Vin de Pays de Vaucluse."

They also make and package “Vin de Pays de Vaucluse" red, white and rosé wines in the "Le Bag in Box" format.

Shirley and I with Sébastien Latour

Upon our return from France, we added the 2011 Côtes du Rhône, a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Carignane, to our wine list at Bistro Des Copains. Modestly priced, it pairs very well with our daube, rabbit, macaroni and cheese, pissaladière or braised lamb shank like I had Friday night.

A Pretty Wine Barrel

Our favorite wineries are those that make good wines and with whom we develop a connection with the winemaker's family and staff. I would add Domaine de la Damase to that list.

If you are in the area, you should go by and meet Sébastien and taste the Domaine de la Damase wines. If you can't do that, come to Bistro Des Copains and order a glass or bottle of the 2011 Côtes du Rhône.

Domaine de la Damase
271 Route d'Orange
84150 Violès
06 19 13 37 85

Have a great day! Chat Soon.


  1. This is just around the corner from where we are, so we will go there asap!

  2. Love your blog! I don't comment much, maybe once before, but I have to say that your wife looks great! Has she been on a regime?

  3. What a charming looking vineyard! Everything looks beautiful, from the planters out front, to the espaliered trees, to the tasting room; just gorgeous! I've never been much of a wine drinker myself, but I think touring the winery and seeing just where everything is made could very well change my mind.

  4. What a gorgeous place! And I simply love the grandfather, he sounds like quite a character! We'll definitely have to meet Sébastien and taste the Domaine de la Damase wines - great post!

  5. Have you ever driven up the Domaine du Mourchon above Seguret? We fell in love with their whites last summer.

  6. Barbara - A very nice family with some very good wines; you will be warmly welcomed.

    Islandgirl - Thanks so much for stopping in to visit my blog and leaving a comment. I shared your comment with Shirley and you are her new hero.

    Darla - Thanks so much for stopping in visit my blog and leaving a comment. There is always something very pretty to see around the various wineries we visit even if you are not much of a wine lover.

    Tuula - Joffry was a very cool man. I would have loved to be able to chat with him but the fact he doesn't speak French made that impossible.

    Liza - Hi, how are you? Yes, we like Domaine du Mourchon a lot. Very pretty setting. In addition to the wines, Shirley loves the face cream they make there from grapes and sell in the tasting room.

  7. Happy Holidays from Dallas, Texas. Hope all is well with the whole Latour family and you are having a Merry Christmas. Please say hello to Gerard, Marie Claire, Alexandre, Pierre-Joffre, Serge and Joffre. I will always remember my year in Violes, France.

  8. Hello Elliott. Thank you so much for stopping in to check out my blog and for leaving a comment. I appreciate this very much. I will make sure I mention to the Latour family that you passed along your greetings on this post. Happy Holidays.