Domaine Didier Charavin
Rasteau, has its fair share of Charavins – it’s probably the most common name in the village. But Didier isn’t necessarily like the others. He is a long-established vigneron, as were three generations before him, and has thirty years of hands-on experience. He also takes on numerous outside activities, and is passionate about his vines and winery. Considering all he does, it’s surprising he finds time to breathe! He is out on his tractor at dawn to work the 90 vine parcels making up the Domaine; or he might be found immersed in one or other of his vats as he treads his grapes the old-fashioned way; or perhaps behind the wheel of his car as he makes his way to one of the seven trade shows he attends every year. Didier is often seen in the front seats at a football match or other sporting event, pen and paper in hand, in his capacity as sports correspondent for local daily Vaucluse Matin. And he is, of course, always out and about in the village on the day of l’Escapade des Gourmets – an event for which he has been key organiser since it first started in 1998.
Blazing a trail
“The idea first came from Bourgogne, where they organised a similar event up in Beaune. But ours was the first of its kind in this region. These days, we have to limit the number of participants to 2,500 or it just wouldn’t be possible to walk anywhere. When registration opens, we have about 1,200 participants within a couple of hours.” The Escapade is a great concept: a 6-kilometre walking trail through the countryside and vineyards around the village, with a stop after every kilometre, where visitors are offered foods paired with wines. It’s a fun, family- friendly event. 150 volunteers
It takes 150 volunteers to man this iconic appellation event, which is not purely wine-related; it was initially created by vignerons, but the organising group included other residents, notably the teacher and bank manager. Over the years as popularity grew, the number of volunteers grew too, reaching a total of 150. Rasteau residents, of course, but also members of the local community.
The event is going from strength to strength; but Didier doesn’t let it go to his head. “For me,” he says, “the Escapade is important because visitors love it, and because it creates a community bond. The key to success is good organisation. There are around 20 or 25 organisers involved; we meet three times a year, and after that, it’s simple. Everyone is responsible for one location, or for performing one task. We all know exactly what we have to do, and we do it.”
Les Parpaïouns – a dream cuvée
Didier Charavin is just as organised on his own Domaine. With 10 people working on the land and in the winery, a cellar which is open 7 days a week, 7.5 hectares of vineyard and almost 100,000 bottles sold each year, it’s probably best not to play it by ear.
He aims to follow in the family footsteps and focus on quality. Three quarters of harvests are manual, with the exception of Syrah. Blends vary from year to year, depending on terroir and weather.
The Domaine’s cuvée of choice has been given the Provençal name of Parpaïouns in tribute to Didier’s father, whose nickname was Papillon. Initially, this was also the name of the Domaine, but branding issues forced the family to drop it. Parpaïouns is made from vines aged 60-90 years old, and meticulously harvested in two passes. The wine is powerful, with spicy notes of well-ripened fruit and a slight peppery edge; a wine available to Didier’s customers only in the good years. Will there be a 2015 Parpaïoun? Definitely, promises Didier. And here’s a tip for anyone who would like to taste it in-cellar – make sure you get the right address. Ask for the Papillon family!