André Brunel has established himself as one of Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s most talented wine makers. The Les Cailloux domain produces wine that represent the best of what the region has to offer.
It was all the way back in the 17th century that the Brunel family bought their first parcel on the appellation, and five generations later André Brunel came to the helm of the domain. Now selling their wine under the brand name ‘Les Cailloux’, the property has gradually increased its surface area over time, along with its influence. As well as the 21 hectares in Châteauneuf, 40 hectares of vines were acquired in the Côte-du-Rhône and 30 hectares of vin de pays du Vaucluse. The quality of wine made here has never stopped improving, and the “Cuvée du centenaire” which was first made in 1989 is now coveted across the world. This cuvée is vinified separately when the vintage allows it. In 2012, Fabrice Brunel joined his father to continue the family tradition.
The special feature of Châteauneuf is its myriad soils: there are areas rich in pebble, gravel and sand, even chalk and sometimes clay. This mosaic of soils explains why p to 13 different varietals are permitted in the blend. Domaine Brunel has 5 parcels across several of these areas, but grows just 4 red grape varieties: Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Cinsault and 2 white varieties: Roussanne and Grenache.
The strength of the domain undoubtedly lies in its Farguerol parcel in the north of the appellation. The soil here is clay-rich, mixed at the surface with pebbles. The clay preserves water well, and the pebbles hold onto the heat during the night. The especially old Grenache and Mourvèdre vines give very concentrated wine helped by perfect exposure to the wind and sun. The ‘graphite’ minerality that we get in Brunel’s wines is also an influence of the clay. The grapes use to make the Centenaire cuvée come from this most distinguished of parcels.
The white wines are also remarkable, made mainly from parcels found in the south of the appellation where the soil contains clay and sand. The Grenache Blanc and Clairette vines thrive here, demonstrating their capacity to reach a perfect balance of maturity and acidity.
From the fruity Côtes-du-Rhône that can be enjoyed in its youth to the rare Centenaire cuvée, the whole team at iDealwine recommends this domain and its produce. Considering the age of the vines (up to 125 years old in the Farguerol area) and the intentionally low yields, the prices are reasonable.
“I want to make wine that people really enjoy without it being totally unaffordable” explains André Brunel. A success, then, and an unmissable name that Rhône fans will love.