NEW ARRIVALS! 2014 Caillou Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Aug 29, 2016

The rocky sea stretches to the horizon, tawny stones the size of footballs, eager to trip up wandering feet. Darkly gnarled vines like so many raven’s claws reach for the sky. A Rhône Valley vineyard under February clouds can seem foreboding — but the south has its secrets.

In just a few months, rustic grapes birthed from these same rugged fields will be transformed into something suave and stunningly elegant.

Sound like a Cinderella story, a dusty waif turned silk-draped princess? It was hard not to think fairy tales when we first visited the estate of Le Clos du Caillou back in the mid-1990s.

Here was an impeccable family estate, with healthy, older vines planted mostly in the 1950s on unquestionably some of the finest terroir in the region. And the wines — each seemingly cut from silk, woven through with the wild herbs of the south: lavender, thyme and rosemary. We fell hard, and fast, and never looked back.

The wines of Le Clos du Caillou are so captivating because they are simply Rhône blends at their most intense. This intensity of character comes from the estate’s ancient Grenache vines, which magically tap into this expressive southern terroir and tease it into wine — in a way that keeps you coming back for more.

We love these wines for their youthful fruit, to be sure, but they are equally captivating, if not more, with cellar age — as all great Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines should be.

Our selections from the impressive 2014 vintage have just arrived in our temperature-controlled warehouse, and we couldn’t be more excited. In fact, if you consider yourself more a devotee of Burgundy than of Rhone wines, you should pay particular attention to this vintage and perhaps expand your horizons south. You will find much here to seduce…

Winemaker Bruno Gaspard said that the 2014 vintage was one in which Grenache, the south’s core grape, “turned Pinot.” What does this mean? A year with cooler temperatures (like 2013) produced wines of impeccable balance and finesse.

Granted, this is what Caillou delivers each vintage, but in particular, these 2014 wines have a touch less alcohol (always welcome) and more delicately spiced red berry fruit than the typically deeper, southern red and black fruits.

In short, it’s a vintage that is pure pleasure to drink and savor, young or with age, as the wines’ balanced acidity certainly points to great cellaring potential.

2014 Châteauneuf-du-Pape ‘Les Safres’
95% Grenache, 5% Mourvèdre, Vaccarèse and Cinsault, grown on sandy soils. This is all about terroir, as “safres” (sandy) translates to a silky, supple wine.

“Heady, mineral-accented aromas of ripe red berries and incense are spiced up by a zesty white pepper nuance. Sweet raspberry and floral pastille flavors show impressive vivacity and focus…The floral element comes back strongly on the very long, incisive finish, which is framed by subtle, slow-mounting tannins.”–Josh Raynolds


2014 Châteauneuf-du-Pape ‘Quartz’
85% Grenache and 15% Syrah, grown on some of the rockiest, crazy vineyards the south has ever seen. These football-sized quartz stones suck up the heat of the day and release it slowly overnight for perfectly ripe grapes — bold, intense and beautiful.

“Deep-pitched aromas of ripe red and blue fruits, along with hints of licorice, floral pastilles and white pepper. Broad, palate-caressing blueberry and bitter cherry flavors become sweeter and livelier as the wine opens up, showing very good energy and back-end punch. Finishes sweet, smoky and very long, featuring slow-building tannins and an echo of sappy dark fruit.”–Josh Raynolds


2014 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Reserve
60% Grenache and 40% Mourvèdre. Like your southern wines big and bold? You got it. The star of the estate, Reserve is a wine that will live for 20 years or more and still keep going.

“Potent, mineral-accented blueberry, cherry compote and licorice aromas are complicated by suave floral and Asian spice qualities, picking up a cola note with air. Seamless, round and alluringly sweet, offering intense red and blue fruit preserve and floral pastille flavors and a touch of five-spice powder. Finishes sappy and extremely long, displaying velvety tannins and a late jolt of dark berry liqueur.”–Josh Raynolds

le clos du caillou chateauneuf du pape north berkeley imports
le clos du caillou chateauneuf du pape north berkeley imports
le clos du caillou chateauneuf du pape north berkeley imports