The Fine Print
Le Pas de d’ is a mixture of the estate’s old vine parcels of Carignan (50%), Grenache (30%) and Cinsault (20%). If one knows the nature of these grapes grown from old vines they may predict it to be the elegant, upfront and unctuous one in the parcellaire selection—and, they’d be right. The average age of the vines for this wine is more than sixty years, and they’re grown (like all the Escalette vineyards) on deep clay and limestone vineyards at an average altitude of 350 meters.
Even though the wine doesn’t lack depth of color or flavor—it has gobs of both—the extractions during fermentation hardly exist so as to insure the preservation of this aromatic lot of grapes. There is only a gentle pushing down of the cap into the juice to keep it healthy (no punch downs of anything here). Alternating layers are stacked in what they refer to as a “lasagna,” starting with destemmed fruit at the bottom, followed by many tiers of whole bunches. The Cinsault is fully destemmed while half the stems from the Grenache and Carignan are kept during fermentation. After a three to four week fermentation the wine is pressed and transferred into 500-liter old barrels (they don’t have a single new barrel in the cellar). There they rest undisturbed, save one racking in the spring, for fourteen to sixteen months before bottling with very little sulfites (maximum 30mg/l total).
It’s easy to feel the length at which this wine and all their wines are gently cared for. This soft touch, along with the practice of not adding sulfites until the wine was bottled renders a red wine with no hard lines or holes. It’s truly delicious and seemingly tailored for those days you need a sure bet on full flavor that doesn’t get tripped up by an overemphasis on terroir expression. Of course there’s plenty of intellect and freshness here, but it quietly sits behind the wine’s more convivial spirit, waiting for those patient enough to not gulp it down in a flash. (The attractive label is an illustration of Delphine Rousseau, one of the co-conspiring creators of this wine.)