Uncovering our terroirs
1. Understanding our terroirs
For generations, the 12 hectares of Vacqueyras around the farmhouse only produced one wine. However, in 2006, Henri Bungener noticed that before bottling the wine, different vats had different tastes and aromas, which was unexplainable at the time. In an attempt to solve this mystery, Henri experimented with mono-varietal vinifications. Each vat was filled with only grenache or syrah, yet even with this approach there were still considerable differences between the grenache/syrah vats. So it wasn't only a question of varietals...
2. In search of identifying plots
In 2006, a long and tedious investigation began. Samples from each plot were harvested seperately, then fermented, then pressed, in 225 litre barrels ("barriques bordelaise"), in order to have a sample of each small area of land. Accompanied by our winemaker and the consultant oenologist, Henri tested each wine in order to establish a geographical map of "tastes and aromas" of the plots around Le Clos.
(The photo represents the vertical
stratas of Le Clos de Caveau)
3. The blending process
Enlightened from the analysis, the work of assembling the wines had begun. We had to work out which wines worked harmoniously together. Indeed, a wine can "agree" with some wines, but "disagree" with others. Thus, we discovered three groups that were in "agreement", which interestingly corresponded to three distinct geographical areas.
4. The supporting geology
When Henri explained his findings to a geologist, they replied: "But it's obvious!". Geology in the plain is simple: the horizontal stratas are layered one upon the other, with the deepest one being the oldest, and the most exposed one the most recent.
However, in the mountains where le Clos de Caveau is located, the situation is more complex. With the rising of the Alps and of the Dentelles de Montmirail, the stratas were lifted up to a vertical position. At the top of the hill there is very hard rock: the crest is predominantly limestone, and at the lowet point one finds a softer strata which the water was able to erode.
5. The origin of our three Vacqueyras wines
Therefore, after several generations of producing only one Vacqueyras wine, Henri Bungener started to produce three different ones. Each wine has its own personality and requires "personailised" work, both in the fields and in the cellar. It is from this discovery that the Fruit Sauvage, Carmin Brillant and Lao Muse wines were created, in order to produce the best possible wines from these unusual plots of land. Fruit Sauvage is produced from the fields at the bottom of the slope, both behind and in front of the cellar, from soil rich in alluvium from the higher slopes; it is South/South-East facing.
Carmin Brillant is produced from the fields on the side of the hill, also South/South-East facing.
Lao Muse is located in altitude and is produced from the final rows towards the top of the hill. Much dryer, the grapes produce much more concentrated juice. One also finds shell fossils.
6. All the sratas originate from the Oligocene period
The Oligocene epoch covers a period of 10 million years. There is a difference of 3 million years between the soil of our three different Vacqueyras wines: Fruit Sauvage, Carmin Brillant and Lao Muse. This produces unique tastes and aromas for each varietal in each area.
Moreover, as one goes up the hill (towards Carmin Brillant and Lao Muse) the soil becomes more arid, giving the grapes a greater concentration.
Le Clos de Caveau's Terroirs
We work in detail to identify each of our terroirs, in order to produce rich and harmonious wines.
Surrounding the Clos one finds 12 hectares of Vacqueyras (AOP) nestled in the Dentelles de Montmirail mountains.
Our terroirs are unusual compared to the rest of the appelation; we are located in altitude and on a hillside, contrary to other Vacqueyras'.
-Each geological strata produces very different wines, even though they may only be seperated by a few metres (see Geology).
-They are protected by an 8 hectares of mediterranean forest, which forms a unique natural protection (organic).
-We produce hillside wines: heavy rain carries down alluvium, which means that yields in the plain are almost 10 time greater than where we are. As one goes up the hillside (towards Carmin Brillant and Lao Muse) the soil becomes less and less fertile, producing lower yields yet a much greater concentration.
Two kilometers away, we have another hectare of Vacqueyras (AOP) where we are trying out Mourvèdre.
We produce our Côtes du Rhône (AOP), Les Bateliers, on 3 hectares of land near Violès.
Wines produced from the same geological origin often go harmoniously together, whereas wines produced from different geological origins tend not to blend well together...