Château de Beaucastel | Courthezon, France
The Perrin family married into the Château de Beaucastel estate over one hundred years ago and are still very much in charge to this day. At the time they made the unusual choice of replanting the vineyard (after the ravages of phylloxera) with all the thirteen grape varieties allowed in the appellation as opposed to concentrating on the Grenache grape, which was the 'easiest' variety giving good fruit, alcohol and colour.
As a result, whereas 85% of the total red vineyard in Châteauneuf-du-Pape is planted with Grenache, this variety represents only 30% of the vineyard at Beaucastel - leaving 30% for Mourvedre, 10% each for Syrah and Counoise and 20% for the remaining nine varieties including about three percent of white. It is not surprising, therefore, that Beaucastel ages so well and develops such complexity.
The other principal distinguishing feature of the estate is that the grandfather of the current generation decided to go back to the old way of doing things in 1964: that is, he would no longer use any chemical herbicides, pesticides or fertilisers. There would be a drop in yield of course, but as he saw it, a gain from the re-establishment of life chains in the soil and all the things which derive from doing things naturally, that we now know about. This was many years before the word 'organic' was used in the way that it is now, so Jacques Perrin was way ahead of his time.
The Perrin family continue to innovate and alongside their extraordinary work at Beaucastel they have developed throughout the southern Rhône Valley to become pre-eminent in the region. They have also undertaken a high profile joint venture in Provence with the owners of Miraval.