This winter is a special one for Sylvie Vacheron, the vineyard owner, as “Le Clos du Caillou” is celebrating 60 years since its foundation. A source of pride for this property in Côtes du Rhône and Châteauneuf du Pape, as well as a surge of memories…
In a period of rest for the vines of Vaucluse, the close-knit little team are busying themselves with marketing the vintages from their organic farming, while simultaneously attending to the wine that has been produced, now in stainless steel and wooden vats.
We must go back to 1956 to understand the passion and determination that inspires Sylvie Vacheron, her children Marilou, aged 23, and Axel, aged 20 (still a student), and the cellar master Bruno Gaspard, now almost part of the family…
Back then, Le Clos du Caillou was a 17-hectare hunting reserve enclosed by a wall, which is still there today. Claude Pouizin, Sylvie’s father, cleared ten hectares, retained the seven hectares of existing vines, and invested in the surrounding lands. The vineyard retained its name, and formed a total of 54 hectares, 9 under the appellation Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and 45 under Côtes-du-Rhône, mainly on the galets roulés (rolled stones covering the clay soil) that made the legend of Châteauneuf du Pape, but with a few plots of marl and sand as well, bringing elegance and delicacy to Bacchus’ beverage…
But the aging Claude Pouizin was ready to sell the property, and gave his three daughters an ultimatum.
In 1995, Sylvie and her husband Jean-Denis took over the property, renovated and extended the buildings, spruced up the wines, and moved them upmarket. In 2001 came the accolades: Robert Parker awards them 100 out of 100, a rare mark in this field.
Marilou recalls her mother’s account: “The fax machine was spitting out astronomical quantities of paper – they were orders arriving from all over the world…”.
But this happiness was short-lived for Jean-Denis, the victim of a fatal car accident in 2002. He was 34 years old, Marilou was 9, and Axel was 6.
Supported and encouraged by her family-in-law – winegrowers in Sancerre – Sylvie hung in there and bravely ran the property, with the cellar master, Bruno Gaspard, by her side.
It is this team that still works with unremitting passion today for the global renown of Le Clos du Caillou… Marilou joined her mother last summer, and Axel is getting ready to do the same in the next few years… An immense pride for their mother, a profound homage to their father.
Le Clos du Caillou
1600 Chemin St Dominique
Tel : +33 (0) 4 90 70 73 05
Photos Colombe Production