Jean-Claude Vidal and his daughter, Audrey welcomed me at Domaine du Banneret, a miniscule estate of less than five hectares tracing its origins back to 1405.
Jean-Claude, descendant of the first owner, learned winemaking with his friends Jacques Reynaud and Henri Bonneau, who helped him for his first few vintages. He kept the traditional methods of his ancestors, and taught them to his daughter Audrey, who now oversees the domaine.
Located on the characteristic galet stone soils, the vineyards are divided into nine parcels all surrounded by green oak, rosemary, thyme, and lavender trees which create a rich biodiversity. They are co-planted with all thirteen permitted varieties in the appellation: Grenache noir (the majority), Mourvèdre, Syrah, Muscardin, Vaccarèse, Terret Noir, Cinsault, Picpoul noir, and Counoise for the reds, Grenache blanc, Clairette, Bourboulenc, Roussane and Picardan for the whites.
Farming is organic. Grapes are harvested together and are co-fermented. The age of the vines (70 years in average) and their exceptional quality allow for no destemming. A unique cuvée is produced every year for both white and red. Around 1,200 bottles for the white and 10,000 bottles for the red. The oak aging process takes place in one old 30-hectolitre wooden cask and a few 350-litre barrel and lasts for 24 months. No new oak is used.
At Banneret, nothing is done in a modern way: the wines are still mostly bottled by pipette and the labels are affixed by hand.
I am fortunate to have tasted the current vintages a few times in the natural cellar built into the castle hill’s rock where temperature and humidity are optimal for wines to be aged properly. My luck continued the day the Vidals invited me to their house for dinner where Jean-Claude’s wife, Marie-Françoise, cooked and where I could taste older vintages from the 1980s and 1990s showing the wonderful aging potential of the wines produced at Domaine du Banneret.
The time has come for one of the most elegant Châteauneuf du Papes made to be available in Hong Kong as a Corney & Barrow exclusivity.
Operations Manager - Asia