Among the Côtes-du-Rhône Villages villages, Le Plan de Dieu is unique in that it is not a village. It is […]Keep Reading
Among the Côtes-du-Rhône Villages villages, Le Plan de Dieu is unique in that it is not a village. It is a distinct terroir surrounded by sleepy, rural, and classically provençale hamlets: Camaret-sur-Aigues, Violès, Jonquieras & Travaillan. The geologic forces that created the terroirs of the Rhône Valley also formed the Plan – a flat plain of red clay covered in gravel overlaying deep sandy subsoils situated just to the east of the ancient city or Orange. In many regards this soil shares a lot in common with the high plateaux of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, most notably that which is found in Le Crau. It should not be surprising to hear then, that two of our estates in Châteauneuf have recently purchased vineyards here: Domaine de la Janasse & Château du Mourre du Tendre. Despite the quality of this terroir, it wasn’t until 2005 that it was elevated to Village status.
In 2004, after years of giving advice to many of the top estates in the Southern Rhône, Philippe Cambie purchased several hectares of vines in Plan de Dieu. What drew him here, of all places, was partially the terroir but, primarily several hectares of old-vine Mourvedre. As the king of Grenache, it might seem surprising that Philippe is in the possession of so much Mourvedre, but Plan de Dieu is a warm growing region within in the Rhône Valley, exposed and flat, conditions which suits the late-ripening, heat-loving Mourvedre perfectly.
Philippe is not alone in this project. Life-long friend Gilles Ferran, proprietor and vigneron at Domaine de Escavarailles in nearby Roaix, has been a partner at Calendal from its inception. What began with the purchase of the aforementioned old-vine Mourvèdre in 2004 has subsequently expanded to 4.5 hectares with the addition of several plots of Grenache. In most vintages the proportion of Mourvèdre is close to half of the blend making Calendal a rather special wine in the Rhône. Because of the reliance on Mourvedre, Calendal is remarkable in “off” vintages, as these years usually denote a problem with Grenache – the workhorse grape of the Southern Rhône.
Gilles tends the vines organically avoiding chemical treatments which are seldom needed in such a warm and dry place. Harvest is done by hand, first Grenache, then Mourvedre following anywhere up to a month later. The grapes travel in small crates for the short drive to Gilles’ cellar in Roiax where he destems the fruit and ferments the wine in tanks. Once fermentation is complete the wine is moved into neutral French oak barrels where it rest for about a year. Throughout this process Philippe makes regular visits to check on the progress of the wine, tasting with Gilles and mapping out the final blend. Depending on the year, there may be a little more Grenache or a little more Mourvedre with the goal of making the most compelling example of the stony terroir of Plan de Dieu.Close