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Domaine Vaquer

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Region: France - Roussillon
Terroir: Les Aspres

The Vaquer terroir, just 20km (12 miles) North of the Spanish border and a similar distance South of Perpignan, was bought by Bernard Vaquer in 1912 and over long years it was the Vaquer Family who have been instrumental in the elevation of “Les Aspres” to its own appellation.

Domaine Vaquer vineyardsSo convinced were they of the unique quality of their “Les Aspres” terroir that the Vaquers refused to label their wines to “the one size fits all” appellation of Côtes du Roussillon Villages, preferring instead to market their wines as Vin de Table “Les Aspres”. Vaquer's "Exception" cuvée is a nod to this dogged pursuit of the new appellation.

Fernand's son, Fernand II began working at the property when he was just 17 and in 1968 he was among the first Roussillon winemakers to put red wine in bottles. At that time the label was marked VDQS "Roussillon dels Aspres", but when the Côtes-du-Roussillon - Aspres appellation was subsequently created in 2003, it seemed to be a nod of appreciation and Vaquer's "Exception" cuvée refers to this.

Proprietor, winemaker, sales director and visionary, Frédérique Vaquer hails from Burgundy where she met Bernard Vaquer while they were both studying at Beaune Wine University. Back in Roussillon, Frédérique also fell in love with the hills of “Les Aspres” and when Bernard died tragically young in 2001, Frédérique carried on, improving the domain, the dynasty and the terroir.

Tasting at the Mas VaquerAt her 15 hectare (37 acre) estate in the foothills of the Pyrenees, Frédérique's vines are at an altitude of around 200 metres. The altitude and the cooling sea breezes ensure the domain a longer growing season and therefore softer fruit than the surrounding villages. Made from the traditional varieties of the region, Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault and Mourvèdre; purity, elegance and charm are adjectives that can always be applied to Domaine Vaquer's wines, but they exhibit provenance, complexity and character as well.

The redoubtable Rosemary George MW recently made a Roussillon tour which she has written up in Zester Daily and seems to have rather liked the Domaine Vaquer. Understandably enough.