Domaine de Trévallon: Against the Grain

Domaine de Trévallon has always made wine against the rules. Today they are considered one of the leading French producers.

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The iconic label of Domaine de Trévallon
The iconic label of Domaine de Trévallon

When wineries do not work within the regulations of their appellation, it often provides more fame than harm. In exceptional cases, it even creates its own appellation, as in the case of Sassicaia. You can't really get more publicity than that.

The case of the Domaine de Trévallon is similar, though not quite as spectacular. It is a similar story of a dedicated winemaker who dared to think outside the AOC. He relied on a blend of grape varieties that the INAO, the French Appellation of Origin, does not permit.

From hardship to success

In 1950, the artist René Dürrbach moved from Alsace to Provence, more precisely to the southern village of St. Etienne du Gres at the foot of the Alpilles mountain range. Here he acquired two estates, first Mas Chabert, then the adjacent Domaine de Trévallon. It is also the limestone that characterizes the harsh, arid landscape of southern France, including the 17 ha of vineyards that the Domaine cultivates today. In order to be able to grow vines, the soil had to be blasted and deeply plowed.


In 1973, son Eloi and his wife Floriane joined the hard work. Eloi Dürrbach cancels plans to become an architect to pursue his dream of making wine and decides to switch careers.  Young Eloi follows his conviction that Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are the best choice for his wine. These two varieties each account for about 50% of the blend. The first vintage was produced in 1976. The results of the hard work quickly attracted international attention None other than Aubert de Villaine of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti recommends the wine to his U.S. importer, who in turn shows it to the wine critic Robert Parker, who shortly thereafter calls the wine "one of his greatest discoveries.”

Breaking the Rules

In 1993, the INAO decided that only 20% Cabernet Sauvignon could be used in Les Baux de Provence AOC wines. Dürrbach refused to reduce the Cabernet content and marketed its wines as table wines. Today they are sold as IGP Alpilles. Dürrbach was also uncompromising when it came to aging, opting for a low-intervention method with no yeast or sulphur dioxide added, allowing the wines to mature for 24 months in wooden barrels. Like the red wine, the white Trévallon, dominated by Marsanne and Roussanne, is fermented and aged in barrels.

In 2021, Eloi Dürrbach passed away and his children are now running the winery. His legacy can be found in the bottle. That of his father René, the artist (and friend of Picasso), can be seen on their distinctive label.    

Alexandra Wrann



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