The wines from Domaine du Dragon in Draguignan reap many medals after the ambitious modernization by Lisa and Mir Nezam of an estate with legendary history.
The Domaine du Dragon (Dragon’s Domain), named after a legend evoking the presence of a dragon lying in nearby caves, opens up at the foot of the sumptuous Gorges de Châteaudouble in the north of Draguignan. Honored with 11 medals this year, the vintages of the vineyard give thanks, with the excellence of their treasures, to an ambitious renovation of the estate. Since its resumption and its revitalization by Lisa and Mir Nezam two years ago, the Domaine du Dragon emerges from its torpor and writes a new page of legend, this time in the AOP Côtes de Provence.
A domain of legend
According to Richard Strambio, Mayor of Draguignan, history buff and amateur archaeologist, the estate was called Domaine du Dragon (Dragon’s Domain) because a dragon used to haunt some caves in the Nartuby, the river near the estate, around Chateaudouble and Ampus. In the 6th century, the Bishop Honorat from the Abbey of Lérins came to preach Christianity in the region. The prelate already knew how to have God’s wrath thunder upon the reptiles, for he had driven out the snakes that swarmed on the island which is now bearing his name in the Iles de Lerins in the bay of Cannes. In the medieval period, Saint Hermentaire, protector of Draguignan, overpowered the dragon. In addition, the Dragon is the emblem of Draguignan because Dracenia was given to a Roman general, Draconius, in reward of his services.
Harmonizing grape varieties
The Domaine du Dragon is spreading its sixty hectares on the hillsides of Draguignan, where 24 hectares of vineyards are offered to the caresses of the Mediterranean sun. Its clay-limestone terroir, ideal for the production of wines in AOP Côtes de Provence, is benefiting from good underground hydrological conditions since a source is springing on the vineyard, the source Saint Michel, whose course then winds towards Draguignan. The renovation of the estate consisted of new plantations to harmonize grape varieties and improve the organoleptic quality of the wines. The main grape varieties are Rolle, Viognier, Cinsault, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Grenache, and Cabernet-Sauvignon.
Investments in cellars
The Domaine applies a reasoned viticulture in order to enable the full expression of the terroir characteristics. Taken by a passion for the vineyard, Mir Nezam is throwing all his effort to develop premium wines and to produce wines for ageing. He undertook major works to modernize the stages of vinification, in particular the renovation of concrete tanks, ideal for the conservation of nectars on the estate, and the replacement of stainless steel tanks. A cooling unit allows to thermoregulate the tanks and a unit produces nitrogen to prevents the wines from oxidizing in contact with the air. The juices are worked by gravity and are vinified in 3 barrels suitable for the good aging of the wines. Opting for a sustainable agriculture, respecting vines and soil, the Domaine du Dragon boasts a weather station, thus reducing by 50% the doses of products of phytosanitary treatments!
The cuvées from the domain
The results of the major renovations and modernization of the estate were revealed in 2017. First, with a production record of 1,150 hectoliters, while drought was raging in the Var. Eleven medals were awarded, including prestigious medals such as medals at the Concours de Mâcon or the Concours Général Agricole in Paris, as well as 3 stars in the Guide Hachette des Rosés for the Cuvée Prestige 2016.
Among the 10 wines of the Domaine du Dragon, one finds in the AOP Rosé a Grande Cuvée, a rosé for the aperitif, a Cuvée Prestige and the Cuvée Trésor du Dragon, some more gastronomic wines. The Red cuvées are divided into a Var IGP, Le Merlot 2013, and the AOP cuvées Saint-Michel, the emblematic Perle Noire, Hautes-Vignes and La Clappe. The whites are in AOP cuvée Les Restanques and the Cuvée Castrum.
The estate’s 120,000 bottles sell for 60% at the Domaine’s cellar, in retaurants and at local wine cellars. The rest is sold for export to the USA, Canada, Japan, Dubai, England, Germany, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Luxembourg and Belgium.
A strong element of the local historical heritage
In addition to its vineyards producing exceptional wines with prestigious medals, the Domaine du Dragon conceals the ruins of a Roman castrum and those of the Chapelle Saint Michel from the 12th century. One can admire the archaeological fragments discovered by Richard Strambio, Mayor of Draguignan, during excavations at the Chapel Saint Michel. Around the renovated Bastide many old buildings stand like farm, sheepfold and lime kilns. A pedestrian circuit, open to all, brings visitors to admire the treasures of the domain, which also open to the public for cultural events: concerts, openings, visits of the domain. Currently, the exhibition Human of paintings by the artist Benjamin Vasapolli adorns the walls of the cellars and the shop, with the portraits of the Abbé Pierre, Serge Gainsbourg or the Commandant Massoud, little wink to the origins of the owner.
Charming rural tourism houses
The Domaine also has two rural houses to share with tourists the pleasures of the art of living in the viti-viniculture and to make them discover all the scents and flavors of Provence. Entirely renovated, the two gîtes – Saint-Michel and Grenaches – can accommodate about fifteen visitors. In the heart of the vineyards, near the cellar and the Bastide, the gîtes offer this unique experience of being immersed in a vineyard typical of the Provençal terroir. Amateurs of calm, ecotourism and culture can also enjoy numerous leisure activities in the surroundings with Aups and its Festival of Winter and Summer Truffles, the Festival of Ancient Music of Callas, the Michelin starred restaurant L’Auberge de Pennafort, the Gorges du Verdon, the old town of Draguignan with its Museum of Arts and Traditions, its Clock Tower with the Théâtre de Verdure, and the jewel of the city, the famous Brasserie Les Mille Colonnes, third oldest café in France, a restaurant that has been existing since 1760.
For dining, Cyril Marzet, chef on demand in Draguignan, can concoct on the domain a delicious meal in the pure Provençal traditions.
Mir Nezam, a big-hearted winemaker
Mir is of Afghan descent and French at heart, arrived in Toulouse at 16 years for his studies. He pursued a career as a diplomat before turning to the pharmaceutical world, becoming the world director of Allergan France laboratories subsidiaries. After having long prospected to find a vineyard representing the Provence he loves, he became the new owner of Domaine du Dragon in Draguignan in 2015, where he settled with his family.
Mir Nezam is also actively engaged in the world of charity as President of the NGO Share, association Law 1901 invested in the improvement of education, health and sustainable development in the world. Share organizes missions with major French ophthalmologists at the Calmette hospital in Pnom Phen, Cambodia.
Domaine du Dragon
990, avenue Fédéric Henri Manhes
83300 Draguignan – var
Tél : +33 (0)4 98 10 23 00
The Domaine du Dragon in pictures
Click on pictures to enlarge – ©Domaine du Dragon & YesICannes.com – All rights reserved
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