DOMAINE LES FOUQUES (Yves Gros)

Hyères, France

Domaine des Fouques belongs to a deeper Provence – a whole space and time away from vacation developments, mass-market infrastructure, and the ubiquitous pink ersatz that bottles a dystopian kind of terroir. Here, on the primary spurs of the the Massif des Maures, above the maritime lavender and garrigue of the Valley de Borrels, Yves Gross makes proper rose from a bare 22 hectares of biodynamic vines.

Yves, his daughter Christelle and son-in-law Jacques have been working the estate biodynamically since 1991. Historically, roses and fruit orchards grew here, but today, although peaches remain, the soil has been given over to grapes and vegetables, cultivated in wild terraces that climb up the valley to eucalyptus and cistus forests. The base soil is poor, acidic and schistous, but fertilised by free-roaming guinea fowl, chickens and ducks, and compost from the Gross’ own vegetables.

In the winter, the vineyards are grassed over, to protect the soil from erosion by the Mediterranean rains and to enrich the ecosystem by attracting beneficial insects to outcompete predatory bugs. Come sring, the grasses are rough-tilled by the estate’s flock of sheep, releasing nitrogen back into the soil in the form of decomposing organic material, and strengthening the vines for their coming season. It might often be hard gains here – particularly when the wild boar come down from the forests and ravage the wines – but there’s always a prevailing sense of balance and harmony of parts.

Yves has 22 hectares and a mix of grapes that variously make up the three cuvées here: Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah and Rolle. In the cellar, the only intervention is a touch of sulphur on bottling.