The Rigord family purchased the estate in 1870; but, it was not until 1977 when Francoise Rigord, wife of Yves, decided to bottle and market the wines of the estate. Madame Rigord abandoned her successful career in public relations to study oenology and take on the responsibility of making all of Commanderie de Peyrassol’s wines. The first vintage bottled for sale to the public was1981. It was then, at the very outset of this commercial venture, that we met Francoise and we have worked in happy harmony together since that time.
Francoise continued to produce ground-breaking wines for the next two decades, elevating the reputation of the Cotes de Provence in all three colors: white, red and rosé. Her book, “La Dame de Peyrassol”, relating her experiences as one of the rare women in the forefront of the wine trade has received enthusiastic praise.
In 2001, the Rigord family sold the property to Philippe Austruy who has aggressively invested in this exceptional property, modernizing the cellars and expanding the holdings. His nephew, Alban Cacaret, is responsible for the daily operations of the domaine.
The “Commanderie”, now known as Chateau Peyrassol, is located in the hills of the “arriére pays”, or backcountry, of the Var, north of St. Tropez and Hyères between the villages of Le Luc and Flassans-sur-Issole. The estate controls 850 hectares and is surrounded by 165 hectares of Mediterranean forest. Eighty (80) hectares are planted to vineyards which are cultivated on dry, rocky clay and limestone based soil. When Francoise Rigord took over, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon were added to the Grenache and Cinsault already grown at the estate. The Rolle (a/k/a Vermentino) and Ugni Blanc are the principal white grape varieties, supplemented by Semillon and Clairette. Peyrassol is rigorously maintained pursuant to organic principles in full respect of the surrounding environment and the delicate balance of the local Mediterranean ecosystem. No synthetic fertilizers or pesticides or fungicides are used in the vineyards. Organic foliar sprays are used to help prevent chlorosis (nutrient deficiencies) and sheep manure is the only fertilizer used after the planting. The age of the vines, the rocky terrain, and the hot, dry climate establish conditions that severely restrict yields. As a consequence, harvest levels average between 25 and 40 hectoliters per hectare depending on the vineyard and grape variety.
Although there are many different cuvées produced currently at Peyrassol, we concentrate on several “core” bottlings that, for us, represent the terroir of this zone in the Var in its truest form.
|La Croix Rouge de Peyrassol Vin de Pays de la Porte de la Mediterannée: This cuvée is crafted specifically for presentation in the United States and is the result of a close collaboration between RWM and the team at Peyrassol (Alban Cacaret, Wladimir Holobinka [vineyard manager], Pierre Guérin [consulting oenologue] and Francoise Rigord [who maintains an active interest in the estate]). The blend varies depending on the particular conditions of the vintage but normally is composed of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah in varying proportions. It highlights the fresh wild berry fruits of the region married to a firm minerality that provides structure and discipline to the wine. Approximately 12,000 bottles per year are bottled for the US market.|
|2018 “La Croix des Templiers” IGP Méditerranée Rosé:
In the trying 2017 vintage, Peyrassol counteracted severe reductions in crop size by securing contracts with a handful of nearby fruit sources—sources for which they oversaw vineyard management, harvest, and vinification. In the more bountiful 2018 season, these contracts, from sources both closer to the domaine and further north toward Mont Sainte-Victoire, allowed them to produce a brand-new wine. “La Croix des Templiers” is a fresh, easygoing blend of roughly equal parts Grenache and Cinsault (plus 2% Viognier) from a blend of outside fruit sources (roughly 75%) and estate-owned parcels. Classic pale-salmon in color with a silvery streak, it deftly balances bright acidity, clean and succulent fruit, and a subtle saline component which befits its Mediterranean origins.
|2018 “Réserve des Templiers” Côtes de Provence Rosé:
Also new as of the 2018 vintage, “Réserve des Templiers” comes primarily from outside fruit sources (though they are sources close to the estate, within the Côtes de Provence Rosé appellation), with a small amount of estate fruit (around 10%). Cinsault constitutes the majority of the blend here, with smaller amounts of Grenache and Syrah, and very small splashes of Mourvèdre, Rolle, and Cabernet Sauvignon rounding it out. A subtler but more complex nose than “La Croix” above introduces a palate of greater complexity, length, and energy, but built around the same classic notes of tangy red fruits and fleur de sel.
|Clos Peyrassol Cotes de Provence Rosé: 2016 is the first year we are offering this special cuvee. It is made from a single parcel which is equally planted to Cinsault and Tibouren (a touch of Rolle makes it into this cuvee as well). The soil is a mix of clay and limestone with a lot of large rocks on the surface. The site has a bit of depression which helps more even ripening, since the soil holds a little more water than other parcels. The 2016 is the palest of the three roses, with a very silvery salmon hue. At the moment of tasting the nose was a tad firm, showing flinty mineral notes. The palate is quite rich and dense with an almost white Burgundy presence. The fruits lean a little sweeter than the other cuvées, with hints of pear and passion fruit. Even so, the wine is completely dry and has a super-long mineral finish. It’s a great rosé that has the potential to age, and we hope some of you keep a few bottles to drink over the next several years.|
|We have just received 350 cases of the 2015 Commanderie de Peyrassol Rouge… This is our first time importing this particular cuvee, which really surprised us with its quality and character in this vintage. It offers a very appealing sense of freshness, with a suppleness of texture that reins in the tannins without burying them. It feels less like a red wine from a rosé-dominated appellation trying hard to impress, and more as a wine in line with the general spirit and drinkability of the rosé. That said, it is a palpable and definite step up in quality from our workhorse “La Croix Peyrassol,” offering more textural complexity and concentration, and a longer, more authoritative finish. Beginning with the 2015 vintage, the Commanderie Rouge is being vinified and raised entirely in cement tanks—a shift from the stainless steel of previous vintages, and undoubtedly a contributing factor in the wine’s sense of harmony and openness. Fermentation lasts about two weeks, and relies mainly on remontage for extraction, with only occasional pigeage—also a shift from previous vintages, and also a likely reason for the 2015’s attractive relative suppleness. The wine comprises around 50% Syrah, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Grenache… It is really a superb little offering.|
|Cotes de Provence Rosé Commanderie de Peyrassol: For us, this wine is the classic representation of the pink-tinted wines of this region and is the workhorse wine of the estate. It carries a pale rose color, a lovely fruit blossom nose and finishes crisply dry with a stony touch that gives it class and elegance. The grape blend is usually Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah in varying percentages. The average age of the vines is 25 years or more. The Rosés of Peyrassol are made from the direct press method. The grapes undergo cold maceration before being pressed. This gives them their beautiful watermelon pink color. The fermentation takes place under controlled temperatures and is exceptionally long, resulting in rosés that are both lively, fresh and full-bodied. As production has increased at Peyrassol with the additional plantings, we too have increased our purchases. Our annual allotment is now between 40,000 to 50,000 bottles.|
|Cotes de Provence Rosé Chateau Peyrassol: This is the elite cuvée of the estate relying as it does on grapes harvested from the oldest vines of the domaine (35 years and older). Principally composed of Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah, the “Chateau” bottling also sees the addition, from time-to-time of Tibouren, the ancient and regal Provencale grape. This Rosé is produced via the “direct press” method and has a long cuvaison designed to produce a wine of character and concentration. Vinified in stainless steel and bottled in late winter – early spring, production is quite limited. Our allocation for the USA averages 4,000 bottles per annum.|
|Cotes de Provence Blanc Chateau Peyrassol: This white is the standard-bearer of the domaine and in its elegance and length is virtually outside of its category. It is a blend of Rolle (Vermentino) and Semillon with the Rolle being the dominant factor (90%). After the manual harvest, the grapes are fermented in barrique and then aged for four to six additional months in barrel (principally new) before the assemblage is done and the wine is finished in stainless steel cuve before bottling. Again, a cuvée of limited production, we import approximately 1200 bottles per annum.|
|Cotes de Provence Rouge Chateau Peyrassol: The “prestige” cuvée in red, this wine is a blend based on Cabernet Sauvignon with some Syrah in the mix. Harvested from the oldest vines on the estate (35 years average age) and from several prime parcels, the wine is fermented in stainless steel and is then aged in barrel (a mix of foudres and barriques) for a period of twenty-four to thirty months before bottling. A small percentage of new oak is used. A powerful expression of the garrigue of Provence, this is a sturdy wine with compelling aromatics. We import 1200 bottles per annum for the USA.|
Food & Drink
I cover wine at work, with attention to makers and growers.
When the holidays roll around, no one wants to seem impersonal or cheap. Entertaining, gifting, dressing, dining—everything gets a special flair this time of year and that’s the fun of it. But, let’s be honest, an element of ease is important too.
I’m of the opinion that a bottle of wine is a lovely gift for most adults, but I’m also sure that the people on your list would enjoy receiving some extra dazzle. Here are a handful of easy-to-purchase yet oh-my-goodness gifts for wine lovers.
Neal Rosenthal is one of the most respected wine importers in North America, and his offshoot, Mad Rose Specialty Foods, bears his characteristic instinct for tasty, terroir-driven products from around Europe. While the site is packed with intriguing items—a vertical of vintage-dated Italian honeys, for example—the olive oils from Provençal wine domaines caught my eye. Château Peyrassol’s 2018 olive oil ($30) from their estate groves in the Var region is the perfect gift accompaniment for 2018 Commanderie de Peyrassol Château Peyrassol Rosé ($26). It can also be purchased as an element of the Premier Olive Oil Collection ($105) which also includes a bottle each from Italian family producers the Armatos and the Beas.
The story throughout the south of France for the 2018 growing season was similar: an inordinate amount of rainfall from February through June engendered a rash of mildew that had growers scrambling, treating between five and ten times as much as usual in many instances. The weather pulled an immediate about-face in July, turning remarkably hot and remarkably dry—conditions which persisted until harvest. This whiplash effect stressed both vines and vignerons, to be sure, but happily the quality of the rosés from Provence is generally outstanding in 2018. The higher amount of rainfall led to rosés not burdened by unwelcome heaviness due to hyper-low yields, but the dryness of the latter part of the growing season prevented a sense of dilution in the final wines. In general, the 2018 rosés from the south of France display impeccable balance, superb drinkability, and a streak of classicism that sets them above the 2017s.
ON THE ROAD WITH JEREMY, NEIL AND CLARKE VISITING THE GROWERS AND REPORTING FROM THE FIELD PROVENCE AND THE LUBERON As was the case throughout the south of France, the defining characteristic of the 2017 growing season in Provence was the profound drought. Our growers in the Cotes de Provence, Bandol, Cassis, and the Cotes […]
BY JOSH RAYNOLDS | JUNE 27, 2017 Among the oldest of many wine cliché’s is that Rosés don’t age well and, like seersucker suits, are out of style after the Labor Day following the vintage. While wearing summer suits out of season might not be in good taste, drinking the best pink wines year-round is […]
Eric Asimov THE POUR JUNE 22, 2017 If for no other reason than popular demand, summer is rosé season. These wines, once pitilessly disparaged as dull and anemic, have been hotter than July for a decade, a climactic shift that shows no signs of letting up. In the past few months, three books on rosé […]
There was no better end to our rosé tour than a visit to the bucolic hills of Provence to visit with our most significant provider of rose, Chateau Peyrassol. Our relationship started in 1981, when Neal first visited Francoise Rigord and purchased the first rosé in the Rosenthal Wine Merchant portfolio. Peyrassol has evolved over […]
The south of France produces fantastic rosé. The Cotes de Provence west of St. Tropez is a great place to try both innovative versions (at Chateau Léoube) and ultra classic ones (at Commanderie de Peyrassol and Domaines Ott). There are other sublime experiences at these properties, too-from laid-back beach cafés to contemporary art set along […]