Patrick Brunel – Château la Gardine

Patrick BRUNEL © Cédric CHAUVIN - Sipa Press pour INTER RHÔNE
Patrick BRUNEL © Cédric CHAUVIN – Sipa Press for INTER RHÔNE

“This was the appellation of my father’s dreams. He would never have bought anywhere along the banks of the Ouvèze…”

It’s been quite some time since the Brunel family first came to work on the slopes of Rasteau; and even though Châteauneuf-du-Pape sometimes manages to

upstage other wines, Rasteau still has a starring place in this family’s portfolio. The same goes for Lirac from Château Saint-Roch, but that’s best left to Patrick’s wife Eve. Let’s take a quick moment to look back… Patrick Brunel’s father purchased La Gardine in 1945; then some years later he came across a property in Rasteau, completely by chance. He happened to have a little nest-egg – money from the sale of some apple trees bought by his father in Pont Saint-Esprit – and when it was suggested he might like to buy 12 hectares in Rasteau divided into 25 hillside parcels, he jumped at the chance. He bought all twelve, soon doubled his holding – and suddenly it was 1964 and time for the first harvest. Fast forward to the present, and the superb 2015, Patrick’s golden child. He has a lot of time for this one. “It’s a Rasteau with a touch of Châteauneuf-du-Pape about it”. Patrick just couldn’t help himself. “Our Rasteaus are richly scented, even the ones made for cellaring have fruity aromas. They’re not expansive, or even particularly powerful. What we’re really looking for is finesse.” The Brunels were possibly the first Châteauneuf family to buy land

in Rasteau, which at that time wasn’t yet part of the Rhône crus’ Hall of Fame, because Gaston, Patrick and Maxime’s father, truly believed in its potential. His brother, along with his wife and children, were completely on board too. His brother even became president of the Syndicat: “This was the appellation of my father’s dreams. He would never have bought anything along the banks of the Ouvéze.”

Everything is planted on hillsides and farmed to take account of the natural balances. But it’s not without its challenges. The gradient is steep, and at first could only be accessed by horses. Then hoists were used, but even these have now been replaced with quad bikes. The initial production run of 100,000 bottles was quickly snapped up by Quebec; today, there are over 230,000 bottles of this cru bearing the Brunel name. Almost one third of the million bottles produced by La Gardine are Rasteau Cru, made with the same love and care as their older Châteauneuf siblings. Even the bottles were designed by Gaston, their shape reminiscent of the mouth-blown bottles of yesteryear. “We don’t do things differently just because yields are lower. Once the grapes are in the winery, we do a lot more than just stick to the rules.” It’s clear that Patrick is particularly fond of this wine: it achieved Cru status in 2010, and is the youngest in the La Gardine family. And being the youngest, it has had to jostle hard to find its position.

Contact:

Famille Brunel

Château la Gardine

BP 35 – Route de Roquemaure

84230 CHATEAUNEUF DU PAPE – FRANCE

Phone +33(0)4 90 83 73 20  – Mail : chateau@gardine.com

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