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The ground at Beaucastel is marked by the violence wrought by the Rhone river. It consists of a layer of marine molasses (sandstone) of the Miocene period, covered by alpine alluvium. The presence in this topsoil of a great number of rounded stones, known as "galets", bears evidence of the time when the Rhone, then a torrent, tore fragments of rock from the Alps and deposited them along its course.
This is the story of the typical soil of Beaucastel. These "galets" make a significant contribution to the quality of the wines: they retain the heat of the day and radiate it to the vines during the night.
The meso-climate here plays an important role: low rainfall, the Mistral wind that clears the air and keeps it dry, and strong and continuous sun.
All these components - notably the spectacular differences between high and low temperatures - combine and complement each other to give the vineyard of Beaucastel its particular qualities and originality (the characteristics of a "grand cru").
The nature of the soil at Beaucastel is stony, well aerated and free-draining. The vine puts down strong roots here. Amongst the effects of this soil:
- the upper surface warms up very quickly in spring
- water drains off fast
- the vines suffer during summer drought
The estate covers a total of 130 hectares, of which only 100 hectares are planted to vines:
- 3/4 is Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée Châteauneuf-du-Pape (CHATEAU DE BEAUCASTEL)
- 1/4 is Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée Côtes-du-Rhône (COUDOULET DE BEAUCASTEL)
The remaining 30 hectares are farmed with rotating crops to prepare new vineyard plantings: every year one or two hectares of old vines are grubbed up and the equivalent area is replanted on land which has not had vines growing on it for at least ten years.
A Miocene era soil covered with an Alpine deposit (rolled river stones), brought in during the last Ice Age by water and glaciers; in fact the former riverbed of the Rhône.
The soil around Château de Beaucastel is quite homogenous. One important variable is the height of the water-table: some grape varieties need more water than others
Within Châteauneuf-du-Pape one finds three types of soil :
- One with stones on the surface
- An equally stony soil, but partially covered with sand
- Closer to the river Rhône, soils with a higher proportion of chalk
At Beaucastel we still use all thirteen varieties of grapes authorised in the Chateauneuf du Pape Appellation: MOURVEDRE, GRENACHE, SYRAH, CINSAULT, VACARESE, COUNOISE, TERRET NOIR, MUSCARDIN, CLAIRETTE, PICPOUL, PICARDAN, BOURBOULENC, ROUSSANNE.
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