One of the many ways to misunderstand Châteauneuf-du-Pape is to think it is a terroir dominated by one soil type. […]Keep Reading
One of the many ways to misunderstand Châteauneuf-du-Pape is to think it is a terroir dominated by one soil type. When asked to picture the typical vineyard in the village, one immediately has the image of galets. While this is an important terroir in the region, it is only one of nearly a dozen different soil types. Some producers make wines from a single specific terroir while others blend from several. This is just as important a factor in how the final wines taste as how they are made. Perhaps no better estate proves this than Chateau de Vaudieu.
Located about a five minute drive outside the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape along the road which leads to Courthézon you will find Château de Vaudieu. It is one of three 18th century Châteaux located in the appellation, tucked into a small valley surrounded by hills and plateau. It is at the intersection of several major terroirs: sandy soils to the north, along a border it shares with Château Rayas (one of the best wines in Châteauneuf-du-Pape but not actually a Château), pale limestone and clays centered around a forested hillock, and two large plateaux of the somewhat overexposed galets. In total there are 70 hectares within one contiguous estate – something very rare in the appellation.
When you taste these wines you will taste the terroir, especially Val de Dieu which comes from sandy soils and Amiral G which if from a small spot at the highpoint on one of the plateaux layered deep with galets over red clay. In the future there are plans to make an additional wine from the pale limestone soils to round out the lineup. All this is due to the vision of Laurent Brechet.
Laurent, and his brother Julien, are the grandsons of Gabriel Meffre. Through their mother, Sylvette, they inherited several properties when Gabriel died in 1987 including Château de Vaudieu in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Domaine des Bosquets in Gigondas and Château de la Coulerette in Provence. The estate had a great reputation during the 19th century exporting its wines all over Europe but it had fallen into disrepair by the time that Gabriel purchased it in 1955. At that time there were only about 25 hectares of vines which Gabriel expanded to nearly the current size of 70 hectares. In the replanting he included a very high proportion of white varieties equalling about 1/7 of the total plantings including a vineyard of Grenache Blanc on the highest part of the property. Shortly after planting it he realized it was too exposed to the mistral so he built a wind break out of cement block. Certainly not the most picturesque edifice but good enough to consider it a clos, hence the Clos Belvedere name.
Since taking over the property Laurent has continued to expand plantings especially on the underutilized limestone terroir. He has enlisted the assistance of Philippe Cambie in the winemaking and while the wines are modern in style they showcase their terroirs beautifully. The primary grape at Vaudieu is Grenache – both Blanc and Noir with supporting help most notably from Syrah and Mourvedre. The estate also grows Cinsault, Counoise, Terret Noir, Vaccarèse, Muscardin, Roussanne, Clairette, Bourboulenc, Picpoul and Picardan so nothing is left out. Fermentation are in a combination of stainless steel, cement tanks and tulips. Aging is based on parcel and cépage – Grenache in concrete and 600L demi-muids while Syrah and Mourvedre is aged in smaller barrels. The whites are aged in a combination of tank and barrel.
In addition to Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Laurent makes a range of Lirac wines as well. Just across the river from Châteauneuf-du-Pape is Lirac. Its proximity and analogous terroir is why so many vigneron make wines in both appellations. While it is fairly cost prohibitive to buy land east of the river it is a much breezier proposition west of the river. Plateau des Chênes is comprised of 16 hectares on a plateau of red clay covered with galets. It is planted with Syrah, Grenache, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, and Clairette. Unique to the appellation, it has a high percentage of both Syrah and white varieties. The wines are made at Château de Vaudieu by Laurent Brechet with the advice of Philippe Cambie.Close