Château de Beaucastel traces its existence back to 1549, when Pierre de Beaucastel bought a barn with a plot of land.
When phylloxera struck at the end of the nineteenth century, decimating the planted vines, the owner decided not to replant the vineyards, instead selling the propriety to Pierre Traminer in 1909.
He replanted the vines and passed them on to his son-in-law, Pierre Perrin, and in-turn to Pierre’s son, Jacques Perrin.
The fourth generation of Perrins, François and Jean-Pierre, have been at the helm since 1978 and the fifth generation of Marc, Pierre, Thomas, Cécile, Charles, Mathieu and Thomas, are also involved.
Château de Beaucastel covers 130 hectares, of which 100 hectares are planted with vines, including 70% within the Châteauneuf-du-Pape boundary and the remainder classified as Côtes-du-Rhône.
The land has been cultivated organically since 1950 and biodynamically since 1974.
All 13 grape varieties allowed in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation are planted, with Grenache and Mourvedre making up the majority.
‘Châteauneuf-du-Pape gets its complexity from blending the different grape varieties,’ said François Perrin. ‘We could do single varietal [wines] but we will not achieve the same level.’
He believes that each grape brings something particular to the wine.
Grenache accounts for around 30% of the blend and gives the richness, the ripe fruit and the alcohol.
Mourvèdre, also usually 30% of the final wine, provides the tannic backbone.
Syrah represents 10% of the blend and adds colour and violet characters
Cinsault, at 5%, brings freshness and elegance.
The others, Cournoise, Vaccarese, Terret Noir, Muscardin, Clairette, Picpoul, Picardin, Bourboulenc and Roussanne, contribute to the complexity and spiciness of the final blend, he said.
Each grape variety is picked and vinified separately, starting with Syrah and finishing with Mourvèdre.
They are blended after malolactic fermentation and aged in large oak barrels for 12 months. For François, ‘oak is like make-up, you just need a little’.