Andre Brunel Grenache 2020
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The Brunel family’s winemaking history reaches back to the 17th century with the purchase of a vineyard plot to the north of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation from the Bishop of Avignon. Numerous generations followed, all working in the vineyards, but it was in 1954 that Lucien Brunel created the name "Les Cailloux" or "The Pebbles" to promote the Domaine’s wine qualities and special geological characteristic of the large oval stones covering his vineyards.
In 1971, Lucien’s son André Brunel took the helm at Domaine Les Cailloux. His endless motivation and eye for quality resulted in a steady expansion of the family’s vineyards with acquisitions in the Côtes du Rhône and select plots of Vaucluse Vins de Pays. In 1989 he launched the now coveted Cuvée Centenaire and continued to improve the vineyard management practices. André was one of the first in Châteauneuf-du-Pape to use tailored ground cover methods and to practice a non-chemical approach to farming his vineyards.
In 2012, André’s son, Fabrice Brunel, joined the team to ensure the family’s history and passion would continue. The pursuit for quality; the utmost respect for the land; and the drive to produce beautiful wines, which are both enjoyable in the immediate present as well as in future years with excellent aging potential, the Brunel family is meticulous in cultivating vineyards, sourcing quality grapes, and winemaking style.
A long and narrow valley producing flavorful red, white, and rosé wines, the Rhône is bisected by the river of the same name and split into two distinct sub-regions—north and south. While a handful of grape varieties span the entire length of the Rhône valley, there are significant differences between the two zones in climate and geography as well as the style and quantity of Rhône wines produced. The Northern Rhône, with its continental climate and steep hillside vineyards, is responsible for a mere 5% or less of the greater region’s total output. The Southern Rhône has a much more Mediterranean climate, the aggressive, chilly Mistral wind and plentiful fragrant wild herbs known collectively as ‘garrigue.’
In the Northern Rhône, the only permitted red variety is Syrah, which in the appellations of St.-Joseph, Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage, Cornas and Côte-Rôtie, it produces velvety black-fruit driven, savory, peppery red wines often with telltale notes of olive, game and smoke. Full-bodied, perfumed whites are made from Viognier in Condrieu and Château-Grillet, while elsewhere only Marsanne and Roussanne are used, with the former providing body and texture and the latter lending nervy acidity. The wines of the Southern Rhône are typically blends, with the reds often based on Grenache and balanced by Syrah, Mourvèdre, and an assortment of other varieties. All three northern white varieties are used here, as well as Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Bourbelenc and more. The best known sub-regions of the Southern Rhône are the reliable, wallet-friendly Côtes du Rhône and the esteemed Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Others include Gigondas, Vacqueyras and the rosé-only appellation Tavel.
Grenache thrives in any warm, Mediterranean climate where ample sunlight allows its clusters to achieve full phenolic ripeness. While Grenache's birthplace is Spain (there called Garnacha), today it is more recognized as the key player in the red blends of the Southern Rhône, namely Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Côtes du Rhône and its villages. Somm Secret—The Italian island of Sardinia produces bold, rustic, single varietal Grenache (there called Cannonau). California, Washington and Australia have achieved found success with Grenache, both flying solo and in blends.