In 1967 Jean Salen bought Domaine Les Bastides and fell in love with planting vineyard parcels and cultivating grapes. In the process, he became a skilled viticulturist. In 1976 he withdrew from the local co-op, and began making his own wine. Jean Salen passed away in 2015, but his daughter Carole, who had returned to the domain with degrees in viticulture and enology in 1987, and then worked side-by-side with her father, stepped into his shoes with grace and ease. Since then she has re-planted and expanded several vineyards, invested in equipment, and purchased new foudres for ageing her wine.
Les Bastides is located due north of Aix in the hills descending to the Durance River, which marks the border between the Bouches-du-Rhône and Vaucluse départements. The domain has 62 acres in vines divided into 17 parcels. Carole finds organic farming to be second nature, and she extends its logic to the cellar, where her ferments are spontaneous, sulfur additions are kept to a minimum, acid additions do not exist, fining rarely happens, and filtrations are kept to a minimum. This is, in every sense, a cutting edge artisanal domain.
Valeria is the signature wine and only produced in the best vintages. It is a blend of the best parcels of Cabernet Sauvignon with some 40% Grenache from vines averaging 30 years old (oldest parcel dates from 1964) growing on slopes between 720 and 985 feet above sea level. Grapes are de-stemmed, fermented separately, and aged over the first winter in tanks where clarification and malolactic fermentation happen naturally. Then the wine is blended and put into foudre for roughly 18-24 months. Valéria was an important Roman in the region during the days of the Roman occupation. Production averages 1,100 cases.
We loved this late release and its more evolved bouquet showcasing classic Provence garrigue scents, olives and wild berries. Medium bodied and elegant, the Cabernet Sauvignon provides structure for even further development.