Most of jobs in the wine business require the ability to take on multiple and extremely varied tasks. Wearing several hats, so to speak. Thibault Lienard, 42 year old director of Domaine du Dragon, is one of these people. Wine maker during the harvest, tractor driver when necessary, salesman, export manager…. And, as often happens, the job description list goes on to include many things that Thibault, a native of Belgium, could not have imagined 10 years ago when he took the position. He has grown into it remarkably, making all of the subtle changes necessary to bring Domaine du Dragon towards higher quality, better vineyard management, less internationalist vinification methods and softer bottlings. He started as a lover of fine wine – a passion he shares with his wife Wivine. After a crash course in wine making for adults, the rest of what he knows, he learned from experience by running this 24-hectare estate.
At present the production brakes down as 87% Rosé, 10% Red and 3% white.
The high altitude, slope plantation of predominately chalky soil vineyards brings wines of great freshness and digestibility despite being so far south in France.
Thibault is quite modest and since all of the prizes are French we have never put them forward to you, but Domaine du Dragon is CONSTANTLY winning awards and prizes (often gold medals) for their wines (particularly the rosés and Cuvée St Michel).
Cotes de Provence Rosé Grande Cuvée 2014
Tank made, from start to finish, no wood
Alc 13,5 %
Blend : 22% Cinsault, 33% Syrah, 32% Grenache, 13% Rolle (white grape variety, aka Vermentino)
Color : Pale rose, rose petals. Perfect political correction in terms of color.
Nose : Basket of pink fruit. Pink roses. Pale pink ginger. Pink grapefruit rind.
Mouth : Pepperiness in end of mouth driven by pink roses and pink grapefruit rind. Mid palate has a touch of mandarin oranges. A very digestible rosé and nice weight on the mid palate.
Cotes de Provence Rosé Cuvée Prestige 2014
Tank made from start to finish, no wood.
Blend: 90% Grenache, 10% syrah
Color: A touch darker than the Grand Cuvée (slightly more skin contact)
Nose: Red fruit. Ripe (from the Grenache) Round and meaty
Mouth: Cherries dominate the mouth. Pomegranate, because of the acidity, really drives the length. Seems rounder on the palate (due to a degree higher alcohol than the Grande Cuvée). Plus suggestions of sweetness via Grenache aromas, but there is no residual sugar.
Rouge Hautes Vignes 2012
Blend: 40% Mourvedre, Cabernet Sauvignon 40%, 20%Syrah
All of the vines are above 400 mt altitude (very high) which gives the name (High Vines).
Nose: No signs of any reduction – which has sometimes been a problem in the past.
Purple plums. Cherries. Ginger and cardamom. Smokiness (in spite of being a 100% tank wine).
The nicest Hautes vignes we have ever smelled and suggests that this wine (even at this price point) is also age worthy.
Mouth: All noble grape varieties. Sun drenched garrigue. Cumin and a lot of black pepper. Mourvedre and Cab bring structure + Syrah brings spice.
Most impressive Hauts de Vignes ever made.
A low priced wine but of exceptional quality and length in the mouth.
Cotes de Provence Rouge Cuvée St Michel 2011
Tank vinified, aged in barrel (1- 5 year old barrels)
Alc: 13,5% Alc
Blend: 50% Syrah, 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Mourvedre
The vineyards are all 250-400 meters Altitude (very high) and on chalky soil. Exceptional for Provence, plus vines are a long way away from the hot Mediterranean coast.
Color: Red and dark to rim (more so than the Hautes Vignes)
Nose: pinede ( Bordelaise pine forest), cedar closet. Cassis and boysenberries, black raspberries. Lavender + lightly smoked fowl.
Mouth: Smoke and ginger driven. Pomegranate. Cherries with a slightly smoky lavender. Spicy.
Conclusion: This is a much more complex wine than the Hautes Vignes. They have made exceptional efforts to make a great and complex wine with this cuvee. A wine that is stretching to become a truly great and noble wine.
Cotes de Provence Perle Noir 2011
Elevage for 7 months in barrels ( new and 1 year old), very light filtration.
Blend: 61%Syrah ,and 39% Mourvedre
Nose: Syrah characteristics dominate via pepper and red fruits and cassis. Hint of game.
Mouth: Pepper and spice bomb. Very long. Cinnamon+ clove and black and white pepper. The longest of the 3 red tasted today. The best effort made on this cuvee.
High altitude vines make this Syrah taste more like Northern Rhone and with extraordinary yields averaging 35 hl/ha (where as it is not rare to see southern Syrah producing 70-100 hl/ha)
We have never pushed this wine in the past and now we are drinking it at home – that is a how good it is!