Domaine de Charbonnière

This well-placed Rhône estate has been in the Maret family since 1912, when Eugène Maret bought it as a gift to his wife, whose father was a winemaker in the region. Eugène's son Fernand followed in his father's footsteps, enlarging the estate during his time there, before passing the domaine to his son Michel in 1973.

It was Michel who gave the estate its name - meaning 'the area of charcoal-burning' - and he remains actively involved, although his daughters are now in control of the day-to-day running: Caroline manages the commercial side of the estate and, since 2009, Veronique has been the winemaker.

The 27 hectares of vines are spread across several appellations: their 18.5 hectares in Châteauneuf-du-Pape take up the majority, followed by four hectares in Vacqueyras, two covered by the Côtes-du-Rhône appellation and the remaining three come under Vin de Table.

The family's Châteauneuf vineyards are situated towards the east of the appellation, bordering the commune of Courthèzon, and are planted on a mix of sandy soils and clay with pebbles. The hot Mediterranean climate is moderated by the Mistral: the winds not only cool the vines in the summer, but also helps to dry the vines after rainfall, preventing a range of diseases. In 2012 the family began the official conversion process to organic viticulture, and as such, no chemical fertilisers, herbicides or pesticides have been used for some time.

Michel and Veronique make several different cuvées of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, each created differently and from separate vineyard parcels. The one we buy is a single-vineyard wine, Mourre de Perdrix, which tends to be the biggest, fruitiest and most feminine of the cuvées. A blend of around 70% grenache, 15% syrah and 15% mourvèdre, the wine is fermented in a mixture of steel and wooden tanks, before being aged in wooden tanks, barriques and demi-muids.

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