Le Clos du Caillou

Courthezon (Châteauneuf-du-Pape) | Rhône Valley

 

caillou_producerWines from Le Clos du Caillou are Rhône blends at their most intense. Concentrated and richly textured, these organically raised, older-vine wines capture the spice and silk of old-vine Grenache grown on the region’s finest terroirs. Each wine too reflects the native perfumes of the south, the “garrigue” blend of thyme, rosemary and lavender that grows wild among the estate’s vines.

Of all the terroir in the Côtes du Rhône appellation, the “clos” of Caillou has to be one of the most exceptional. Completely surrounded by Châteauneuf-du-Pape vineyards, this walled parcel of land was intentionally left out of the appellation by the owner, following a bureaucratic spat back in 1936. What this means today is that Caillou’s Côtes du Rhône wines are the qualitatively the same, with regard to terroir and exposition, as top Châteauneuf wines.

Caillou’s devotion to the character of the land (through bottling wines according to terroir) and its dedication to organic and biodynamic viticulture are what captivated us so many years ago when we first encountered these wines; and over the years, this fidelity to soil and soul has only intensified.

FARMING & WINEMAKING

The estate in Courthézon, in the northeastern part of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation, boasts a mix of terroirs with a predominance of sand, which gives Caillou wines their silky elegance and fine-grained texture. Importantly, the “clos,” or walled portion of the estate where vines for Côtes du Rhône wines are grown, shares the same terroir with Caillou’s Châteauneuf-du-Pape vineyards. The estate has been practicing biodynamic viticulture since 2003, and was certified organic as of 2010.

Grapes are harvested by hand and manually sorted in both the fields and at the cellar, then partially destemmed and fermented on indigenous yeasts in cement tanks. Wines are aged in a combination of large foudre, demi-muid and barrel, depending on the wine and the vintage, for approximately 15 to 18 months in the estate’s cool underground cellars, and are bottled unfined and unfiltered.

WHITE WINES

Côtes du Rhône Blanc (Grenache Blanc, Clairette Rose)

A plush and satisfying white wine from older vines that grow within the estate’s “clos,” on classic Châteauneuf soils: a blend of sand and “galets roulés,” or large quartz river stones.

 

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Côtes du Rhône Blanc ‘Bouquet des Garrigues’ (Grenache Blanc, Clairette Rose, Viognier)

A more complexly flavored, layered white blend grown within the estate’s “clos” or wall, on classic Châteauneuf terroir. The wine’s aromas in particular capture the regional garrigue, or blend of lavender, wild thyme and rosemary.

 

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Côtes du Rhône Blanc ‘La Reserve' (Clairette rose, Grenache blanc, Viognier)

A refined, textured and full-bodied white blend, born from vineyards that share similar terroir to classic Châteauneuf-du-Pape plots: mostly sandy, with large quartz stones (galets roulés) and clay subsoils. Aged in a combination of French oak barrels and new demi-muid. The perfect wine with a rich, garlicky fish stew.

 

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Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc ‘Les Safres’ (Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, Clairette)

A supple, silky and long-lived white blend from lieu-dits ‘Bedines’ and ‘Pignan,’ vineyards best known for their sandy soils, which contributes to the wine its supple, velvety texture.

 

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ROSÉ WINES

Côtes du Rhône Rosé (Counoise, Mourvèdre)

A rosé de pressurage (pressed red grapes), raised organically. Grown inside the estate’s “clos” on sandy soils, this delicate, silky wine offers flavors of red currants, raspberries and orange zest.

 

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RED WINES

Côtes du Rhône Rouge Vieilles Vignes Cuvée Unique (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre)

A North Berkeley exclusive. With the help of winemaker Bruno Gaspard, we select the finest lots of older-vine wines from the estate’s cold underground cellars for this special blend. Spicy, sultry and even age-worthy; always too easy to enjoy.

 

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Côtes du Rhône Rouge ‘Les Quartz’ (Grenache, Syrah)

The region’s “galets roulés,” or large quartz river stones, are a common sight in Châteauneuf’s finest vineyards. These stones, a legacy of the former path of the Rhône River, absorb heat during the day and release it slowly overnight. This wine comes from the estate’s “clos” vineyard, which shares similar terroir and exposition as estate Châteauneuf plots.

 

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Côtes du Rhône Rouge 'La Reserve'
Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge Tradition (Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah)

A selection of “younger” vines (30 years old) from lieu-dits ‘Cassanets’ and ‘Bedines,’ with sandy soils. This elegant terroir contributes to the wine a silky texture and a light spice. A delicious Châteauneuf-du-Pape to enjoy young or age for up to 10 years.

 

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Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge ‘Les Safres’ (Grenache)

The estate’s silkiest, most delicate Châteauneuf-du-Pape, composed primarily of older-vine Grenache. ‘Safres’ refers to the wine’s terroir of compacted sand, which in the wine translates as a supple texture and smooth tannins.

 

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Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge ‘Les Quartz’

The region’s “galets roulés,” or large quartz river stones, are common in Châteauneuf’s finest vineyards. Left behind in the former path of the Rhone River, these stones absorb heat during the day and release it slowly in the evenings, resulting in perfectly ripe grapes that create a structured, mineral-rich wine.

 

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Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge Réserve (Grenache, Mourvèdre)

The estate’s top blend, made from its oldest vines, from 60 to 80 years old, and only in the finest of vintages. Silky yet powerful, this wine should be aged for ten years or more to truly appreciate its multifaceted personality.

 

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Established: 1956
Winemaker: Bruno Gaspard
Region: France • Rhône Valley • Courthezon
Vineyard size: 132 acres

ORGANIC WINERY


…this estate continues to make polished, elegant wines that have a slight modern edge, while never losing their Provençal character.

—The Wine Advocate