2021 Domaine Combrillac Troc
Region: Bergerac < Perigord < France
Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc + 15% Merlot
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Certified organic and biodynamic farming; partial whole cluster 10 to 12-day maceration (80% for Cabernet Franc + Merlot, 20% for Cabernet-Sauvignon); fermented with wild yeast using a pied de cuveé then 6-month aging in stainless; bottled unfined/unfiltered with <1ppm added So2; 13% ABV
Winemakers: Thien Uyen + Florent Girou
Spicy, juicy fall glou glou (or the closest thing you'll find in France's Southwest to glou) from a super progressive, eco-driven husband/wife duo!
Domaine Combrillac, nested on a hill overlooking the Dordogne valley in the heart of the Perigord region (better known for its rich food traditions than wine), is an idyllic 25 hectare estate, only 12 of which are planted vines. The rest is packed with a myriad of naturals habitats, including forests and meadows, an aromatic and medicinal herb/flower garden, and oak and acacia groves (which provide stakes for the vines). Biodiversity, along with the mitigation of a vine monoculture, is big here.
Florent Girou, who had been a winemaker for hire all around France, took over the family estate in 2008 but couldn't devote his full energy to Combrillac until 2018. At the same time, he co-founded the collective of winemakers, Les Équilibristes, which purchases organic fruit all over France to make natural wine reflecting the authentic terroir of each region. He still leads this project, but now also splits his time with his estate wine project, Combrillac, in partnership with his wife Thien Uyen, a former legal advisor on biodiversity issues turned herb farmer. In growing herbs and flowers in the heart of the vineyard, first for a medicinal herb company she founded, Uyen realized the importance of this element in bringing back diversity and biodiversity to the parched land. Today she's minding the vines as well as the valuable cover crops. She says, "From now on, we both want to reshape our practices by linking our two activities of winegrower and medicinal herbs farmer in a greater living entity, far from the predominant monocultural scheme". The couple is not only super thoughtful in the vineyard, their wine production is equally low intervention and environmentally friendly down to their labels, which are water soluble to allow for reuse and recycling.
The results are impressive, as we loved their whole lineup. Troc is their everyday drinking reds, a mashup of local grapes, mostly Cabs (Sauv + Franc) with a splash of Merlot. But the sum is very different than the parts - rather than big, bold, tannic or green, as one might think given the different constituents, this is a soft, juicy, fresh and light wine that is as lovely on its own, with a slight chill, as it is with food (and it is fabulously versatile with food - had to go wrong with a meat/grill/saucy/roasted veggie pairing). We're talking plush, bouncy tannins, just ripe black fruit, savory herbs and a lively spicy finish - in a light-ish body that makes it just right for the diverse flavors and temps of Fall.
SERVE SLIGHTLY CHILLED (20 MIN) -- OR NOT. UP TO YOU.