The Vacheron family, owners of Le Clos du Caillou, have purchased the 33-acre Domaine de Panisse in Châteauneuf-du-Pape from the Olivier family. The deal came together during France's COVID-19 shutdown but has just been announced, much like the Guigal family's recent purchase of Domaine Les Clefs d'Or. The purchase price was not disclosed.
"My brother, my companion and I are very proud of Le Clos du Caillou and the work accomplished [there] by our family, our mother, Sylvie Vacheron, and [winemaker] Bruno Gaspard," fourth-generation vintner Marilou Vacheron told Wine Spectator. "But Panisse is a new challenge that will allow us to accomplish something ourselves."
The deal was in itself an accomplishment. "It was difficult to acquire the estate as several important families in Châteauneuf-du-Pape also wanted to buy it," said Marilou. In the end, she said, SAFER, the French land management agency, chose Marilou, 27, and her brother Axel, 24, because of their youth.
Marilou called it a superb opportunity for Le Clos du Caillou because the domaine is located less than a mile from Le Clos du Caillou, in Courthézon, while other vines lie in the Les Garrigues lieu-dit, where the Vacherons already own 62 acres. "The enormous advantage of this estate is the fact that all of its Châteauneuf-du-Pape is situated in one parcel, around the estate, which has a vat cellar and an aging cellar as well as a beautiful 19th century home," said Marilou. They expect to produce around 3,000 cases of wine per year at Panisse, while Le Clos du Caillou currently produces about 16,000 cases.
The Panisse estate grows Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and old-vine Cinsault. "The [17 acres] of Châteauneuf-du-Pape are on magnificent terroirs, mainly sandy," said Vacheron. The remaining vines are planted on Côtes du Rhône land in a clay and limestone terroir. "The vineyard was very well-maintained by the previous owners, which allows us the pleasure of vines over 50 years old and in very good shape. The majority of the terroirs are sandy, a terroir that we know very well and that we adore," said Vacheron.
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Marilou will be responsible for management and sales, while her brother Axel and her partner Antoine Robert will handle viticulture and winemaking. They say their goal is to convert the entire estate to certified organic and biodynamic viticulture by 2023.
There are also plans to create a special cuvée using the best parcels from Panisse. "In my opinion, the potential quality of this estate is very high," said Vacheron. "The previous owners were focused on the vineyard, but didn't have the time for commercialization. I think we'll have grands vins from this estate, leaning toward freshness and finesse. Now we need to introduce them to people."