Attaining perfection has been Vincent Avril’s aim ever since he took over the running of the Clos des Papes estate from his father, Paul. He is unquestionably an outstanding winemaker with an attention to detail that is second to none, seeing the estate move to the top rank of Châteauneuf producers. Yields are extremely low and likely to get lower as the vineyard is being converted to organic viticulture.
The Clos itself is right by the ruins of the castle at the top of the village and is beautifully laid out in terraces, a showcase with all of Châteauneuf’s 13 grape varieties present. It is, however, just one of 18 separate plots scattered across the appellation, enabling the Avrils to play with the many different soil types and expositions. It also means they can spread the harvesting over a longer period of time thus obtaining the best from each of their sites. Whilst this is certainly demanding work, it is this amount of diversity in the estate that without doubt is behind the greatness of Clos des Papes.
What also makes Clos des Papes stand out is the Avril family’s belief in the mourvèdre grape which was planted here long before it became fashionable. A normal vintage of Clos des Papes is around 65% grenache, 20% mourvèdre and 10% syrah, the balance being made up by all the other Châteauneuf varieties. With such a high percentage of mourvèdre, Clos des Papes is, unsurprisingly, long lived and needs plenty of bottle age.