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Natural Wines of the Luberon at Domaine de la Cavalière

Lively Lourmarin

In August, the tiny villages of Provence swell with visitors from around the world and Lourmarin is no exception. At Café Gaby – if you are lucky enough to find a table on market day – you might hear German, Dutch, Chinese, Russian, and various forms of English, all while enjoying lunch. I have.

It was amidst a cacophony of local voices at the café this past August that I began to hear about a talented winemaker at Domaine de la Cavalière who was making vin naturel in the village. I thought I knew all the wineries in the area, even stretching the definition of a winery to include the farmer who sells his rosé alongside his melons, alerting passersby that he is open for business by setting out a barely legible, hand-written sign at the end of his driveway. I had written about almost all these wineries.

Exploring a New  Vineyard

Domaine de la Cavalière is located on the north side of Lourmarin at the end of the narrow Chemin de la Combe des Cavalières at the base of the Grand Luberon. Just past the property, unpaved fire roads traverse the thick forest. With a name like “cavalière,” which translates to “horsewoman” in English, it is not surprising to find the property well into the countryside.

The domaine comprises about 45 hectares, almost half of which are covered by forest. The vines and olive trees each cover about eight hectares and the horses, donkeys, and goats have about four hectares on which to roam. 

Dream Job Winemaker and Chef

“My dream, as a cook, was to make my own olive oil, my marmalade, compote, jams, and [to have] honey,”  Julien Besson said. “Sometimes, I feel like I am in a dream.”

It’s not a dream! There are 900 olive trees, from those, Besson produces two stunning olive oils, both organic and unfiltered: Fruité Vert, a full-bodied and very flavorful olive oil with a little kick at the end, and Fruité Noir, made from partially fermented olives that is reminiscent of a rich tapenade.

There is also a magical potager. This particular “kitchen garden” was unlike any I have seen. Yes, there are the requisite organic vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowers, all strategically and artistically intermingled with companion plants in beds, thus living up to the definition of a potager, but there is so much more to behold.

A New Approach at Domaine de la Cavalière

Besson saw the potential of the terroir at Domaine de la Cavalière. The soil is limestone, clay and sand. The altitude is about 350 meters which, in the Luberon, leads to higher diurnal temperature variation; for grapes, that means night-time relief from the long hot days of summer typical of this area, assuring more balanced ripening and, thus, greater freshness and nice acidity. (With approximately 2,600 hours of sun annually, the Luberon is one of the sunniest areas in France.) The Mistral blows through this area but being nestled into the base of the Luberon Massif enables the vines to reap the benefits the famous wind offers while mitigating its negative effects. Some of the vines were as old as 50 years with roots that Besson suspects run quite deep.

Please read the full article on Provence WineZine to understand more about this intriguing vineyard near Lourmarin. Susan shares her observations on the fabulous property, the talented winemaker and Côte de Luberon Appellation wines.

Contact Details:

Domaine de la Cavalière (website)

34 Chemin de la Combe des Cavalier, 84160 Lourmarin, France

Telephone: (+33) 06 72 72 65 66

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Susan Newman Manfull

Susan Newman Manfull

It was love at first sight when my family and I arrived in the charming village of Lourmarin for a short vacation, nearly 20 years ago. We returned home to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and the next thing I knew, we were planning a much longer sojourn in that village and making arrangements to enroll our daughter in the local school there. That led to buying a maison de village— actually two, then a courtyard, a parking spot, and a bergerie— in our favourite Provençal village where we (readily) adopted that certain joie de vivre, established dear friendships, and, to this day, endeavour to blend in with the crowd at Café Gaby.

We no longer own property in Lourmarin, but we continue to hang our hats there frequently and gather fodder for our souls and The Modern Trobaors and Provence WineZine. There is never a shortage.

The Modern Trobadors, conceived in 2008, is about all things Provence: its markets, hilltop villages, lavender, art, literature, culture, history, food, wine, and news. Provence WineZine, launched in August 2014, focuses on wines from Provence and the Southern Rhône Valley regions—with a special emphasis on Provence's world-renowned rosés—and the men and women who make them.

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