Domaine du Banneret
Domaine du Banneret is an estate that exemplifies the old traditions of this region in the very best way. With roots all the way back to 1405 Jean-Claude Vidal and his wife took over the family property 1989, prior to that it was Jean-Claude’s uncle tending the vines and making the wines. Jean-Claude had the best imaginable mentors in Jacques Reynaud of Château Rayas and Henri Bonneau, whom also made the wines the first years. He therefore inherited the traditional methods of making wine, something Jean-Claude now has passed on to his daughter Audrey who oversees the domaine.
This is a tiny estate; 4 hectares of vines are planted on 9 different plots, divided across 5 lieux-dits, in the heart of the appellation. These 5 lieux-dits showcase the different terroirs in Châteauneuf-du-Pape: sedimentary rocks, sandy soils, limestone and clay. Being classic means that the Vidal’s grow all 13 different grape varieties. A large portion of the Grenache-vines grow on the highest part of the famed “Grande Pierre”-terroir, neighbouring vineyards of Rayas, Syrah grows near Bois de Boursan, Mourvédre is planted close to the Rhône and remaining varieties are spread out in the appellation in terroir as Terre Blanches, Les Roumiguières and Bois de la Ville. Many vineyards are co-planted holding a mix of varieties. Fruit for Bannert’s white Châteuneuf comes from 0,5 hectares of vines grown in Terres Blanches divided on two plots, bought in 2015. These old vineyards, many vines pushing 80 years age, are farmed organically and yields painfully low crops.
The percentage of every variety in the vineyards is represented equally in the wines since they are, as tradition has is, co-fermented. For red this gives: 60 % Grenache Noir, 10 % Syrah, 10 % Mourvédre and the last 20 % is made up of the remainder. Vinification is traditional meaning fermentations takes place with native yeast in concrete tanks without destemming or crushing the bunches, lengthy maceration. Wines then age for at least 18 months in old oak barrels from Burgundy and in foudre. Wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered but after a few rackings, to gain clarity in the wine. A white Châteauneuf-du-Pape, “Le Secret” is also made at Banneret. It is a blend of 40% Grenache Blanc, 40% Clairette, 10% Picardan, 5% Roussanne, 5% Bourboulenc. The Clairette bringing freshness to the wine. Le Secret mostly sees stainless steel but also some oak, 15 % of the wine is aged in oak.
There is still gems to gain pleasure from in this, sometimes under-performing, appellation – tiny Domaine du Banneret being on of them. Ultra-traditional wines full of soul, power, finesse and complexity showcasing that the golden days of Châteuneuf-du-Pape is not gone.