One of my favorite estates in Châteauneuf du Pape is unquestionably that of Le Clos du Caillou, which is in the eastern part of the appellation, in the Courthezon district. It has been in the Pouizin family since 1956, with Claude Pouizin running the estate up through 1996.

Most of the production was sold off to négociants until around 1993, but in 1995, Claude’s daughter, Sylvie, married Jean-Denis Vacheron, and the couple took over running the estate at that time. Unfortunately, Jean-Denis died in a tragic traffic accident in 2002. Today the estate is run by Sylvie Vacheron, with more and more help from her children Marilou and Axel, and Bruno Gaspard and consultant Philippe Cambie in charge of the winemaking.

This tasting, which took place at the estate late in 2019, focuses on their Châteauneuf du Pape Les Quartz. While the flagship from this exceptional estate is certainly their Châteauneuf du Pape La Réserve, which comes mostly sandy soils, the Les Quartz comes from more rocky, pebbly soils and holds a special place in my heart with its more exuberant, Provençal style. This cuvée was first made in 1999 and comes mostly from 60-year-old vines in the Les Cassanets lieu-dit yet also incorporates a small amount of Syrah from the Les Bedines lieu-dit. It’s always a destemmed blend of roughly 75%-85% Grenache and the balance Syrah, with the Grenache aged in a combination of neutral oak tanks, demi-muids, and foudre, and the Syrah in demi-muids. There was a small amount of new oak used in the past for the Syrah, yet I think that has changed today and the estate is also experimenting with small amounts of clay amphora. It’s bottled unfined and unfiltered.

As I hope the reviews show, this is a brilliant, age-worthy Châteauneuf du Pape that’s loaded with Provencal charm and character!

By Jeb Dunnuck
Founder & Wine Critic
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