Domaine Vinci was started by Olivier Varichon and Emmanuelle Vinci in 2001. They bought vines in the beautiful Rafalot Valley, a few nearby parcelles of vines and a winery in Estagel. The Rafalot Valley is a tiny valley going north from the Agly Valley near Perpignan in France.
Following the global financial crisis and a severe drought, Simon Stoye became a partner in 2010. Olivier comes from a wine-making family, and Emmanuelle has a PhD in Biology. Simon lives in England, but lives out his wine making dreams for seven weeks a year in France.
There are Carignan, Grenache, and Mourvedre vines to make red wines, and Macabeu, Grenache Blanc and Carignan Blanc for the whites. We prefer parcelles that are on pale soil, and protected, to avoid the vines getting too hot in the Southern French sun. The vines are maintained organically, which maintains the health of the vines and the soil and the richness of the ecosystem, with wild flowers (and some weeds) amongst the vines, and bees, spiders, ladybirds and many other insects. As much work as possible is done by hand. The yields from the old vines are tiny, often less than 10hl per hectare.
The harvest and wine-making is very simple. The grapes are picked by hand in the morning to avoid the heat later in the day, and then left overnight in the air-conditioned cellar. They are then crushed by foot (in specially cleaned rubber boots!) to avoid any flavours from carbonic maceration but are not normally de-stemmed. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel and wood for the white wine, and stainless steel and concrete for the reds, using natural yeasts. Gentle pressing takes place in a pneumatic press, and the press wine is added back into the red wine. The Roc red wine is left in stainless until it is bottled in the summer after the harvest. The other wines are matured in oak barrels of either 225 or 600 litres to soften and gain creaminess from the lees. Only old oak is used to avoid obvious oak flavours that we do not think suit our grape varieties. All the wines have very pure fruit flavours as a result of careful handling and very low levels of SO2.
For our best red wines we like to use single varieties to get elegance, purity and harmony: Carignan for the Rafalot, Grenache for the Inferno and Mourvedre for the Coste. Sadly the amount of white wine is insufficient to make a wine from each variety, so the juice from all the white grapes is blended.
Roc is the entry level red wine. The blend is currently 50% Grenache and 50% Carignan. The wine is elegant and perfumed, but not as rich and concentrated as the other reds. It is young, juicy and succulent. Try it with Parma ham or salami, veal stew, kidney with mustard sauce, roast chicken, pan fried cod, Caesar salad, young cheddar, any pasta dish, or strawberries.
Rafalot is a more powerful wine made from 120 year old Carignan vines. It is smooth, concentrated and spicy. The fruit has the intensity of damsons. It is ideal with duck pâté or strong flavour pâté, steak and kidney pie, grilled lamb chop, T-bone steak, quail, pigeon, or truffle brie.
Inferno has been described as ‘Rafalot on steroids’. It is still a dry red wine but the fruit seems much richer and sweeter. It is made from old Grenache vines, the wild boar’s favourite grapes, grown in Domaine Vinci’s highest and most exposed vineyard. An electric fence is used to keep the sanglier out.
Coste is a red wine made from Mourvedre vines, and has slightly more powerful spicy notes than the Rafalot.
Coyade is our dry white wine made from Macabeu, Grenache Blanc and the rare Carignan Blanc. It is a rich wine, with notes of anis. We bought more Macabeu in 2012, which went into the 2013 Coyade. This will be bottled in 2015, and hopefully it will not all sell out instantly to the original customers.
Please ask for more detailed technical notes if you are interested.
Availability in the UK
The wines currently available in the UK are:
Roc 2012 (but only a tiny amount is left)
We may also have a few bottles of old vintages for favoured customers.
The stock is held in London City Bond, and we try to batch up several orders to either Enmore or the Barbican together to reduce delivery costs.
References on the Web
http://www.domainevinci.com/ for the google satellite picture of the location of the Rafalot vines
https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/view/21936861/hole-corner-magazine-kermit-lynch-wine-merchant for arty photos with mirrors and more story