Domaine Treloar, Roussillon

Domaine Treloar Motus label

Country & RegionFrance, Roussillon
Appellation(s)Côtes du Roussillon, Côtes du Roussillon Villages
ProducerJonathan and Rachel (Treloar) Hesford

The way we (and I use the collective here with purpose) have portrayed and considered Roussillon is, incontrovertibly, one of the biggest travesties of the wine world. This wild, fiercely unique little wine region, bearing absolutely no relation whatsoever to its sprawling neighbour, has been ignorantly, lazily and damagingly lumped in as a hyphenated adjunct to Languedoc, despite the fact that its history, culture, language, climate, soils, grape varieties and heritage have little in common.
        —Tamlyn Currin,, July 2021

Treloar is a Celtic name, closely associated with Cornwall, where all manner of town names begin with the prefix Tre. It’s Jonathan Hesford’s wife Rachel’s family name. She was born in New Zealand and (to really confuse the issue) has Maori mixed up with her Celtic ancestry. Treloar’s logo is a reflection of that heritage.

Jonathan himself comes from Yorkshire. At a young age, he became fascinated with wine, but worked in IT, a career that eventually took Rachel and him to Manhattan. They lived in Battery Park City, a block from the Twin Towers, and they witnessed everything on 9/11. They took their daughter and what they could carry from their apartment, lived day to day for the next month, and finally moved into a new apartment. The next day Jonathan was handed a pink slip by Merrill Lynch as part of a big lay off, which meant he lost his visa, as it was tied to his employment.

So they took stock of their lives, of what was important. They moved to New Zealand, where Jonathan enrolled in an enology and viticulture program. Upon graduating at the top of his class, he committed himself to a life of agriculture. His first job was as assistant winemaker at Neudorf Vineyards. Two years later, in 2006, they decided to go off on their own, and move continents again to be closer to family, friends and potential customers.

Domaine Treloar landscape

Jonathan had been following the renaissance happening with wine in Roussillon, a region profoundly rich in history with a great diversity of influences. They found an ancient domaine in the village of Trouillas, in an area known as Les Aspres, tight up against the Pyrenees. The area appealed because the soils were rich in clay (think water), plus it was in the path of the cooling and ripening-retarding Tramontane wind—both allowing for the possibility of more balanced and elegant wines than other hotter, more famous regions of Roussillon. Above is a photo of one of their parcels–this one of young Syrah.

Domaine Treloar praying mantis

From the start, they’ve aimed to make wine with little intervention. They focus on local varieties, work as organically as possible, using only organic fertilizers and no herbicides, and rely on superb fruit and smart decisions in the cellar to make authentic wines of Roussillon. Sulfur additions are minimum, there are no acid additions, and fining and filtration, if done at all (mostly confined to the whites), are altogether slight.

Domaine Treloar Jonathan and Rachel

The domaine has no permanent employees, no consultants; Jonathan and Rachel do pretty much everything themselves. They farm 25 acres of vines in nine parcels scattered about Trouillas, each within a nice walk from the winery. The vines are not irrigated, and the harvest is all by hand. What they aim for in their wines is precision and structure. Annual production is less than 3,000 cases. Thanks to Columbia Hillen for the photo of Rachel and Jonathan above.

The Wines

Côtes du Roussillon "Cuvée Le Ciel Vide"
Syrah, Mourvèdre, GrenacheThis is the domaine’s homage to 9/11, inspired by a Bruce Springsteen song. The blend can change radically depending on the year. The varietal mix can change considerably from vintage to vintage. The current release of 2019 consists of equal parts Grenache and Syrah with 10% Mourvèdre. The wine is raised in tank and averages 200-500 cases.
Côtes du Roussillon Villages "Cuvée Three Peaks"Syrah 60%, Mourvèdre 30%, Grenache 20%Named after three peaks in the Pyrenees that overlook the vines, plus it’s a reference to Jonathan’s childhood and three well-known peaks in the Yorkshire Dales. This cuvée is always based on Syrah (the 2018 is 80% Syrah, 12% Grenache, and 8% Mourvèdre), and it reflects the typical clay soils of Les Aspres that are laced with stones. The stones are a mix of schist, marble and granite. Aged mostly in tank with some older wood; production averages 650 cases.
Côtes du Roussillon Villages "Cuvée Motus"Mourvèdre 80%, Syrah 15%, Grenache 5%Motus is a wine lover’s wine, an age-worthy cuvée always based on at least 80% Mourvèdre (the 2017 is 80% Mourvèdre, 15% Syrah, and 5% Grenache). It comes from a 3.5-acre parcel of old Mouvèdre growing in limestone-clay soils. Raised entirely in barrel, with roughly 20% new wood; production averages 400 cases.