Clos du Caillou, Côtes du Rhône "Cuvée Unique" Vieilles Vignes
Clos du Caillou, Côtes du Rhône "Cuvée Unique" Vieilles Vignes

Clos du Caillou, Côtes du Rhône "Cuvée Unique" Vieilles Vignes

Southern Rhône Valley, France 2021 (750mL)
Regular price$22.00

Clos du Caillou, Côtes du Rhône "Cuvée Unique" Vieilles Vignes

If you already know the outrageously great value that lies in every bottle of Clos du Caillou Côtes du Rhône “Cuvée Unique,” feel free to jump to the “buy now” button and start stocking up. And if you don’t know, now you know. This perennial SommSelect best-seller is aptly named: It is truly unique. The Clos du Caillou is a winery and also a vineyard that lies smack-dab in the middle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and yet, in a fun, historical twist of fate, was never given proper AOC status. On top of that, our friendly local importer has for years obtained a special selection of very old vines from the prime parcels of Caillou. Legendary winemaker Bruno Gaspard himself hand-selects the casks that make up this Rhòne Valley gem, and as of now we’re the only place in the world where you can get your hands on the super-fresh 2021. Oh, and all that for just $22! So, please, ignore the pedestrian “Côtes du Rhône” label: Geographically, stylistically, texturally—this is Châteauneuf for one-third the price!

Clos du Caillou is located in Courthézon, a village within the Châteauneuf-du-Pape growing zone, and we always enjoy sharing its “stay off my lawn” origin story: In 1936, 40 years after the property was established as a hunting lodge, France’s AOC governing body approached Caillou’s then-owner with the intention of incorporating it into the “new” Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation. The officials were met with armed resistance—Caillou’s owner had no desire to join the governing ranks of anything, let alone a wine appellation. This brazen act originally excluded the estate from the AOC and essentially carved out a sizable chunk of CDP’s border. Today, it continues to be an unclassified section in what is otherwise some of the most prized vineyard land in the area. 

About 20 years after “the lawn altercation,” Clos du Caillou was purchased by the Pouizin family, who stowed the guns, started planting vines, and began making wine. Over the next four decades, Claude Pouizin made Les Clos du Caillou a household name for premier Châteauneuf-du-Pape. In 1996, the youngest of his three daughters, Sylvie, inherited the operations. At the time, she was living in Sancerre with her husband, Jean-Denis Vacheron (a family making some of the Loire’s finest wines). After the tragic passing of Jean-Denis in 2002, Sylvie pushed forward and maintained the estate’s legacy with the help of lead winemaker Bruno Gaspard. 

Driven by organically grown Grenache in the pebbly, sandy soils of the zone, “Cuvée Unique” is a special Côte du Rhône selection created each year from premium old-vine lots and, subsequently, the best batches in the winery. The 2021 release is a blend of 80% Grenache with splashes of Syrah, Carignan, Counoise, and Mourvèdre that were fermented in steel tanks with indigenous yeasts. Unlike the past few very hot, very dry vintages, 2021 was a return to classic. As such the fruit was completely de-stemmed. After fermentation, the resulting wine aged for just under one year in neutral, 52-hectoliter foudres and cement tanks. To enhance purity and terroir expression, the final wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered. 

Because it’s led by high-quality, old-vine, CDP-equivalent Grenache and priced below $25, we geek out over this wine year in and year out. Served in a Burgundy bowl at about 60 degrees, after a quick decant, it fires out of the glass with explosive, luxurious aromas like wild raspberry, blackberry, Bing cherry, redcurrant, and red licorice. However, a great deal of savory/earthy components lie just underneath that rich wall of primary fruit: garrigue, baked clay, black peppercorn, rose water, and wild thyme. The full-bodied palate is a trifecta of unabashed richness, polish, and refreshment; a perfectly balanced tour de force that expertly sidesteps palate saturation and fatigue. In short, it’s a pure, terroir-transparent snapshot of the Southern Rhône. Enjoy now until 2027.
Clos du Caillou, Côtes du Rhône "Cuvée Unique" Vieilles Vignes

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