The romantically-named Domaine du Dragon produces award-winning rosé wine in the Provençal heartland. We spoke to manager and owner Thibaut Lienard and Mir Nezam about the ancient heritage of their vineyard, their modern production techniques and why they think rosé is on the rise.
Tell us a bit about the history of your label.
The Domaine du Dragon is located near Draguignan, in the heart of Provence. It is an ancient and authentic vineyard, with production believed to date back to Roman times. The Domaine takes its name from the myth of the water dragon, believed to be responsible for the historic flooding of the town. There are ancient ruins on the site including a chateau and a chapel, and the nearby ‘Fairy Stone’ dolmen dates from 2000BC.
The 24-hectare south-facing vineyard rises from the Nartuby river valley to the top of the stony, limestone Malmont hill on the Triassic plateau of the Haut-Pays. The main grape varieties are Rolle, Ugni Blanc, Cinsault, Mourvedre, Syrah, Grenache, Merlot and Cabernet-Sauvignon. The 1000 hectoliters produced annually at the Domaine are all vinified and bottled on site. With 70% rosé, 25% red and 5% white, our wines win several national and regional awards every year.
New owners Mir and Lisa Nezam are focusing on modernizing the cellar and growing the export business, while retaining the history, quality and authenticity that make the Domaine du Dragon special.
What’s your underlying philosophy as wine-makers?
We make authentic wine to traditional methods, using the most modern technology. Investments in weather monitoring systems enable us to use the absolute minimum of intervention and natural products wherever possible. Modern cooling equipment enables us to make the pale and delicious rosés typical of the region.
How would you sum up your best wine in three words?
Elegant, complex, moreish.
In your opinion, what makes Provençal rosé special?
The ‘terroir’ from which the wine comes, the fabrication method and the beautiful pale color.
Why do you think rosé wine has increased in popularity in recent years?
The quality of rosé wine has improved dramatically in the last 20 years. It is also very easy to drink, and increasingly associated with dining. It is now drunk all year round, bringing sunshine to Northern climes.
Not including your own, what are your three favorite Provence rosés?
Jas d’Esclan, Chateau Martinette and Chateau Pibanon.