2021 Domaine Combrillac Houtsiplou AOC Bergerac Rosé
Region: Bergerac < Perigord < France
Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Certified organic and biodynamic farming; fermented with wild yeast using a pied de cuve then 6-month aging in old (8/10-year) barrels; undergoes ML then 6-month aging on lees in barrels; 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-- we loved their whole lineup. Their Houtisplou rosé perfect captures the terroir of the region and the character of the two Cabs (Sauv + Franc) that comprise it. So much pretty red fruit and spice here, without veering into the vegetal lane, this is the perfect Fall rosé that pairs brilliantly with food (especially veggie-centric dishes) but also is lovely on its own. More nerd than party pounder, super interesting and confident but not brash, this is a rosé to take home to mom.