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.
The Southern Rhône Valley wine region extends from Orange in the north through the communes Lirac and Tavel in the southwest. The French call the region Côtes du Rhône Méridionales and it includes some of the best known appellations in France, such as Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas. The climate and landscape of the Southern Rhone differ significantly from the Northern Rhone. There are hot, often windy Mediterranean appellations near Nimes and the south, and higher altitude, relatively cool appellations such as Côtes du Ventoux to the east. Understanding the region can be confusing given that there are thirteen appellations and sixteen red and white grapes allowed for wines with appellation status. Syrah is grown here, but it is much less important than in the north. Grenache is the prominent red grape, though most red wines are blends of at least four varietals. Other commonly used red grapes are Mourvèdre, Cinsault and Muscardin. Counoise, Terret Noir, Vaccarèse and Syrah are also permitted. The primary white grapes are Grenache Blanc, Clairette and Bourboulenc, though Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne are permitted, as are Picpoul and Picardin. Of note is the Côtes du Rhone Villages AOC, which is only in the Southern Rhone. Though Côtes du Rhône AOC wine is made in both the north and south, the Villages appellation has stricter requirements for winemaking and is generally considered higher quality than simple Côtes du Rhône. Robert M. Parker Jr. has written that “There is a vast amount of enjoyment to be discovered in the southern Rhône…for these are some of the most sumptuous and pleasure-giving wines produced in the world.”