70% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre, from 9 hectares of vines in 12 parcels in the north-east sector of the appellation, Courthézon. The parcels are: Le Mourre de Gaud, Palinteau, L’Etang, Le Cristia, and Valori. The vines average 50 to 95 year old. There are 3 soil types: limestone/clay with sand and galets roulés, dominantly sand, and stony limestone/clay with fossils.
The grapes are hand-harvested, selected in the vineyard, and then carefully transported to the winery in small crates. There they are sorted twice on a vibrating sorting table, before and after destemming. The grapes are then given about 24 hours of cold maceration, to ensure the fermentation does not begin too quickly. They are then lightly crushed, and placed in temperature-controlled, stainless steel tanks. Fermentation begins slowly with only the native yeasts. Extraction is attained with a gentle pneumatic pigeage mechanism in the tanks. The cuvaison phase lasts 30 to 40 days. Autard punches down and pumps over the cap twice daily during the first 10 days of the active fermentation phase, and then several times during the vatting period. The young wines are then transferred to 225 liter barriques which are one-third each new; 2 to 4 years; and 6 to 8 years. The barrel aging period last about 18 months during which time the malolactic fermentation takes place. Autard assembles the 4 varieties about 19 months after the harvest, and bottles the wine in March.
It is a balanced, elegant, deeply colored and vividly flavored Châteauneuf-du-Pape, due to the old vines’ naturally low yields. It brims with fresh and pure dark berry fruit and notes of black pepper and chocolate. 2900 cases produced.
About the Producer
Jean-Paul Autard carries on the tradition established by Paul Autard when he founded the domaine in the village of Courthézon in the 1970's. He took over very early, at 17 year old, after his father passed away. His daughter Pauline now works with him.
Autard has 26 hectares of vines, of which 12 are in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and 14 in Côtes-du-Rhône (located at the border of the Châteauneuf appellation in Courthézon.) The aging cellar is a massive, vaulted cave cut into sandstone rock, housing the domaine’s barriques. The Autards feel privileged to have inherited a domaine in which the plantations of different varieties are perfectly adapted to the soil types - ranging from galets roulés, pebble and clay, to sandy-clay. They aim to get the most out of each variety by vinifying separately and then blending judiciously. The grapes are destemmed and fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeasts. After the malolactic fermentation, the wines are transferred to barriques for aging, about one third of which are new for the regular cuvée of Châteauneuf and 100% new for La Côte Ronde and Juline. Since 2004, Jean-Paul has been working in his new state-of-the-art winery, which allows him greatly enhanced control over all phases of winemaking, and a concomitant increase in quality. His unique style, fusing elegance, balance and generously expressive Châteauneuf-du-Pape flavor, has won his wines an international following.
Farming/vinification practices: sustainable farming. Jean-Paul aims to achieve a perfect balance between the soil and the vine. He does not need to green harvest because his vines are on average over 50 year old. The vines’ age, together with the limited use of only organic fertilizer, naturally ensures low yields and concentrated, balanced fruit. No pesticides, chemical anti-rot products or fertilizers are used. The health of the vineyard is ensured by meticulous work by hand, such as the removal in May and June of unessential shoots and leaves that would block the proper aeration of the vines. Jean-Paul is able to eliminate the possibility of problems such as rot and mildew by not allowing humidity to remain on the grapes and leaves. In a few years, him and Pauline will start uprooting some vines to replant 5% to 10% every year. Indigenous yeasts are used most of the time, but inoculation may be required in a difficult vintage. The grapes are 100% destemmed. The wines are vegan.
Domaine Paul Autard
Vinous: Châteauneuf-du-Pape blanc moving out of the shadows - June 2017