Patrice ANDRE – Domaine des Banquettes
“The boss? That’s where he is, up there!”
At Domaine des Banquettes they speak English and Spanish. But they also speak Provençal: that’s how strong the bond is between Patrice André and his home region. His Provençal heritage is clear to see; the 30-hectare estate set across the 3 communes of Rasteau, Sablet and Violès features lavender fields, olive groves and vineyards, where Patrice is creating a new winegrowing tradition. For almost 60 years his family took their grapes to the Rhône Valley’s cooperative winery; but the young Patrice was more interested in heavy machinery than vines. He would take motors apart and reassemble them, casting the odd cursory glance at the vineyard. But then one glance became two, then three – until by 1993, he was fully committed to his vineyards and left his job as public works mechanic, throwing himself wholeheartedly into vineyard work. For the next ten years, as a sort of litmus test for his new-found passion – and also because it takes time to resign from a cooperative agreement especially if you happen to be the Secretary General – the grapes kept being delivered to the cooperative as usual. Then in 2002, Patrice and his wife Christelle finally began to make their own wines. They withdrew part of their land, including the Rasteau vineyards, from the cooperative, and created a new Domaine which they called Les Banquettes – an echo of the terraces on which their vines were planted and tended with love and care.
My father wasn’t a great one for weed killers,” explains Patrice.
All those years of keeping a close eye on the vines, of dealing with the weather, of making constant improvements – just like any other craftsman – have made Patrice André into a very different kind of winegrower, one who knows he doesn’t hold all the cards. “The boss?” he says, pointing out his shot berries and sickly grapes, “That’s where he is, up there!” Patrice remains philosophical though, no matter what the weather throws at him. That’s part of the challenge; that’s what drives him. “It’s like going back to school every year. You start from a different place each time.” Rasteau’s grey and blue clays give the wines made by this mechanic-turned-winemaker their distinctive edge. Patrice takes great pride in helping his Grenaches reach their peak; he prefers them to Syrah anyway.
Patrice André was born the day Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon. His father missed the moment, but with good reason. And now his son is leading a mission of his own, in a functional, modern winery where the art of traditional winemaking enjoys added precision, giving unpretentious, no-nonsense wines. Wines that are simply good.
Patrice et Christelle André
Domaine des Banquettes
1360, Route d’Orange 84 110 RASTEAU
Tel : 04 90 46 10 22 – Mail : firstname.lastname@example.org