Julien Zernott's Pas de l'Escalette has enjoyed a meteoric rise in notoriety since we first discovered these gorgeous wines at ViniSud in 2006. Zernott's brilliant reds took the fair by storm, and it wasn't long before he was receiving calls from the world's top sommeliers: the keepers of the wine lists of Joel Robuchon, Pierre Gagnaire, the Hotel Crillon, and perhaps the world's greatest restaurateur, Michel Bras.
Why all the noise about a tiny, obscure estate that we found only after realizing that Google Maps had wildly underestimated the travel time on the back roads above Montpelier? The real story behind these gorgeous, vibrant reds is the place: a spot where it appears that time has stood still for centuries.
When Julien and Delphine Rousseau first stumbled upon the old vines on this tiny 10-hectare property, they were enchanted. The nearest village, Pegarolles-de-Escalette, had a population of 144. The land was rugged. The vines were terraced, zigzagging up ancient hillsides. The soil was precious limestone, but at this altitude (over 1000 feet), the old vines managed to borrow underground for meters, quenching their thirst on subterranean water reserves. But it was the "Clapas" -- small timeless walls of dry stones that surrounded the terraces-- that grabbed Zernott's imagination and wouldn't let go.
The secret to Julien's wines is the singular combination of superb red fruit concentration, fine limestone minerality, and low pH. Every wine we've tasted from Zernott has been rich, but it's the firm acid structure (low pH) that really sets these wines apart.
Domaine Le Pas de l'Escalette
This blend of Alicante and ancient Aramon with Carignan and young-vine Syrah is deep purple in color and has a nose that reveals rich, concentrated aromas of red fruit, garrigue, with a touch of cassis. Intense red fruits appear on the the palate along with excellent vibrancy, followed by a long and persistent finish.
This is a versatile red wine that can accompany pizza, a grilled ribeye, or even a vegetable tagine.