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 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
06 19 13 37 85
Have a great day! Chat Soon.