This domain was created by Marcel Michel, father of Lucien Michel who is gradually passing the reins to his daughter Claire (who arrived in 2007). For many years, the vineyard sold its wines to the region’s powerful négociants but in 1966 the Michels started to bottle their own wine. Lucien Michel and his wife Marie-José took over the property in 1979. The Vieux Donjon vineyard covers 15 hectares, with 14 cultivated for red wine and just one for white. Two thirds of the red vines are planted on a classic terroir of galets roulés, with the remainder planted across a mix of terroirs. The average age of the vines is more than 50 although many of the Grenache vines are closer to 100! The Syrah and Mourvèdre vines are around 30 years old. Current cultivation techniques closely resemble organic practices and vinification is highly traditional but refrains from imposing a specific style. The grapes are de-stemmed meticulously, but only partially depending on the year, the juice is fermented with indigenous yeasts, vinification takes place in concrete vats and the wine is aged for 12 months in foudres. Nothing but classic will do for this very traditional Châteauneuf that is much in demand the world over (but only distributed in small quantities in France). Vieux Donjon wines are a must in this appellation and still sell at a reasonable price.
About the cuvée
A relatively unknown wine in France, where it is rarely distributed, this Châteauneuf-du-Pape is all the rage abroad, with critics having already homed in on this exclusive Rhône area. Composed mainly of Grenache grapes from old vines, this wine is extremely elegant and reveals notes of fresh red berries and refined, delicate tannins. The finish is extended with notes of fresh fruit and spices. To produce this wine, 50% of the harvest is destemmed and vinified traditionally. All grapes, with the exception of Mourvèdre, are fermented with native yeasts. Vinification is performed in concrete vats, with maceration lasting about 25 days and élevage in wooden tuns for a year and a half. An ultra-rare wine in France: miss this at your peril.
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General : The «bio» designation covers certified wines produced by biodynamic or organic methods, sustainably produced wines, and «environmentally friendly» wines that are not officially certified. These designations apply to recent vintages (the date of certification, if known, is specified in the estate description). See the blog article for more information on this designation.
Biodynamic : The «biodynamic» designation is used for all estates certified as using biodynamic methods, as verified by one of the two official bodies, Demeter or Biodyvin. All wines produced by biodynamic methods are also certified as organic. This designation applies to recent vintages.
Organic : The «organic» designation covers all estates certified as using organic methods, as verified by one of the bodies approved by the Ministry of Agriculture, such as Ecocert. This designation applies to recent vintages.
Sustainable : The «sustainable» designation covers all estates certified as using integrated or High Environmental Value (level 3 Environmental Certification) techniques. This designation applies to recent vintages.
Evironmentally friendly : The «environmentally friendly» designation refers to estates practising environmentally friendly wine-growing techniques, but that have not opted for certification or who are still in the process of converting to organic agriculture or biodynamics. These estates may have adopted biodynamic principles (non-certified) or simply no longer use chemical products. This designation applies to recent vintages.
Natural : Wines which are produced without any added sulfur (or almost any) and with no other inputs. However, given that there is no official body to issue the natural wine label, it is based on winemakers’ statements. This designation applies to recent vintages.