“I watch quite a bit of television. But for me, that’s work!”
Pierre Meyer isn’t joking. At 50 years of age, this vigneron’s son, Rasteau born and bred, plays a unique part in village life. “I’m Mr Celebrity!” he exclaims,
roaring with laughter. And it’s true.
For the last 17 years, Pierre has been co-organiser of l’Escapade des Gourmets, along with a group of friends and fellow winegrowers. Every year, Pierre’s job is to invite celebrities to take part in this weekend of walks and winetasting in the vineyard, which takes place in May. It’s not an easy task, but he loves it. And his methods are unbelievably effective.
“We’ve managed to convince a lot of different people to join us: sports personalities, television personalities, comedians, writers… Our first honorary patron was rugby player Daniel Herrero, whom I knew. I managed to persuade him to join us, and it all took off from there. It’s a lovely event: the scenery is beautiful, the wines are good – and there are plenty of people around who love drinking good wine! And I love meeting people.”
It all makes perfect sense. But there’s far more to Pierre Meyer than his jokey, sociable side. As a winemaker, he means serious business. After much historical research, and after a Roman altar was unearthed on the site, the family estate founded by his father in 1981 was named Les Nymphes. The altar is now on show at Musée Calvet in Avignon.
Over the years, Pierre has come to specialise in older vintages – dry reds as well as Vins Doux Naturels.
He is one of very few in this appellation to supply an older vintage dating back to 1990. His Rasteau red Cuvée Prestige 2011 has just been bottled; he likes to supply older wines to customers who may not have the facilities to store them.
his client base, like his list of celebrities, has been built up in the course of his travels and meetings. The Domaine currently sells 50% of its production in-bottle, largely via direct sales from the property. The rest is sold through négociants.
L’Emperus – a piece of paradise
“We’re not industrialists. My grandparents were farmers; they grew vines of course, but they also worked the land. Two generations later, it’s no surprise that I’m not a businessman, although I love working with people. I want to make wines that I like myself, and sell them to people I like. I don’t want to play hunt the customer,” says Pierre. He is paving the way for the future of the Domaine, as one after another his family prepare to retire.
This involves succession planning for his daughter, who may take over in a few years’ time – provided, of course, that she wants to, and that she leaves her vigneron father a small piece of paradise in the shape of l’Emperus. Could this be the emperor of vineyards? 6.5 hectares of south-facing vineyard with unparalleled views of the Rasteau hillsides, and beyond them, the Alps. The Grenache vines here date back to 1945; at the height of summer, they are tall with lush foliage and could easily be mistaken for shrubs. The land is also planted with Mourvèdre, and it is here that Les Nymphes grows this great cuvée – a powerful, spicy, full-bodied wine, perfect with truffles, stir-fried mushrooms or wild rabbit stew
Domaine des Nymphes
Route de la Cave