Chateau de Beaucastel, located in Courthezon in the Southern Rhone Valley, has 272 acres of organic vineyards. Unlike many Rhone Valley producers, Beaucastel grows all 13 of the grapes permitted in the appellation and the estate uses an unusually high percentage of Mourvedre in its red wines, usually around 30%, along with 30% Grenache and smaller amounts of Syrah, Counoise, Cinsault, Vaccarese and Muscardin. The estate’s most prestigious wine, Hommage a Jacques Perrin, is made with 70% Mourvedre. Several families have owned the estate over the course of its 400-year history and the present owners are the Perrin family, whose ownership of the estate dates to 1909. Along with its famous Chateauneuf- du-Pape and Hommage a Perrin, the estate makes notable white wines from blends of Roussane, Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Bourboulenc and Picardan. Some 20,000 to 24,000 cases of red are produced annually, along with almost 2,000 cases of white wines.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the appellation, is a large area of nearly 8,000 vineyard acres centered around the picturesque town of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Located in southeastern France just north of the Avignon hills, the name of the appellation means “new castle of the pope” and it is a reference to the 14th century, when the Popes of Avignon built summer homes in the Southern Rhone Valley. Today the appellation is one of the most renowned in France and its terroir is known for layers of small pebbles, called “galets.” The stones in the soil are thought to help store heat and keep the soil warm, which helps ripen the grapes. The stones also help keep the soil from drying out in hot summer months. In 1923 Châteauneuf-du-Pape was a leader in establishing the idea that AOC wines in France should be made only with specified grapes, and the appellation allowed 13 grape varieties to be used. Since then the rules have been slightly modified to include several more allowable grapes. Red and white wines are produced, though in practice about 97% of all Châteauneuf –du-Papes are reds made with a blend of Grenache Noir, Cinsault, Counoise, Mourvedre, Muscardine, Syrah and Vaccarese. The red wines of this appellation are prized for being big, rich, spicy and full-bodied. White wines of the appellation are made with Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Bourboulenc, Roussanne, Picpoul and Picardin. Whites are floral, fruity and relatively full-bodied.