The Clavel name has been associated with vineyards in the Languedoc area for generations. Today, Domaine Clavel is run by Pierre, but in fact it was his father - the talented wine historian Jean Clavel - who was responsible for founding the AOC Coteaux de Languedoc appellation.
Pierre began his career as a winemaker at Domaine Clavel in 1986, after having been a goat farmer and wine merchant. Today he runs the estate with his wife Estelle and their two sons, Antoine and Martin. In recent years all of the viticulture here has been focused on sustainability, and eschewing the use of chemicals.
The family owns 33 hectares in the Languedoc appellation across four of its sub-regions: beginning at La Méjanelle, the domaine then expanded into the rocky limestone and windswept Mediterranean climate of Saint Christol in 1997. In 2009 Pierre bought land in Pic Saint Loup, which rises to 658m above sea level and has limestone soil that suits its syrah, grenache and mourvèdre plantings well. Most recently, in 2002, Pierre bought some vineyards in the cleared scrublands of Grés de Montpellier. Surrounded by a multitude of fragrant herbs, syrah grown on the stony soil here is on the wild side.
La Méjanelle is the source for one of their finest reds, Copa Santa, and their only white, the delicious Cascaille Blanc. Both benefit from the sandstone pebbles, which retain heat during the day and release it at night, helping the grapes to ripen steadily. The hot and dry Mediterranean climate helps to concentrate the grapes, and the mix of sea breezes and northern winds from the Mistral keep the vines clean and free from disease.
Domaine Clavel's Mescladis Rosé originates from the south-east facing vineyards in Pic Saint Loup, which benefit from hot summer days and cool nights. The grapes spend six months on their lees in concrete tanks before bottling.
The blend of Domaine Clavel's Cascaille varies each year, but generally contains grenache blanc for roundness, roussanne for length, and rolle for freshness; as well as some muscat and white carignan for added complexity. The grapes are harvested in the coolness of the morning sunrise, using a mixture of man and machine, and - after a cool fermentation to retain their natural aromas - are aged for seven months on their lees.
Copa Santa is a blend of syrah and grenache which is 100% hand-harvested. The grapes are vinified separately in temperature-controlled concrete tanks, and then spend 18 months in barrels of various sizes before blending.