Julien Zernott and his wife, Delphine Rousseau, discovered Le Pas de l'Escalette in August 2002, during their "quest for terroir." At the time, Julien was widely recognized for producing superb wines in the Loire Valley appellation of Menetou-Salon, but what he really wanted was to make his mark with something unique. When he and Delphine set eyes on Le Pas de l'Escalette's vineyards, they realized their quest had reached its conclusion--they purchased the estate that same year.
Domaine Le Pas de l'Escalette's vineyards are situated 1,150 feet above the Larzak Plateau on terraces carved into the surrounding cliffs during the middle ages. These terraces form the steps ("pas") in the staircase ("escalette") that was likely built by the Templar and Hospitaller Knights who maintained five fortified villages on the plateau.
Julien and Delphine's 10 hectares of vineyards are as difficult to tend as they are breathtaking to behold, but they contain a treasure: old-vine plantings of Grenache, Carignan, Syrah, Alicante, Carignan Blanc, and Terret. Due to the extremely arid and rocky conditions, these vines naturally result in absurdly low yields of highly concentrated fruit--and wines that express the special calcaire soil.
Few winemakers would think of rolling the dice on such a difficult venture, but Julien and Delphine had set out to create something truly special. In just a few years of existence, their estate has proven to be a huge success. In 2006, the renowned Revue du Vin de France named Domaine Le Pas de l'Escalette's "Grand Pas Rouge" the #3 wine of the year from the Languedoc.
Julien and Delphine's "Premier Pas" is a wine meant for everyday drinking, "something to share among friends," as they say. The name of this wine, "the first step," has several meanings: it nods to their newborn son's first step while referring to both the domaine's rebirth as well as this wine's entry-level spot in their lineup. Grenache (40%), Carignan (30%), Cinsault (20%), and Syrah (10%) team up in this fantastic vintage to offer a wonderful palate of fruit in both the nose and mouth. Dark berry with some cherry dominate. This enchanting nose is followed by a wine with fine texture and Escalette's characteristic minerality and spices. Drink now-2012.