Clos des Cazaux is a family-run wine domaine that has been growing vines and making wine for five generations, starting with our ancestor Gabriel ARCHIMBAUD at the turn of the twentieth century, the first man to sell Vacqueyras wine by the bottle, with the village and estate name on the label. The domaine is now run by Jean-Michel and Frédéric VACHE.
Regarding its size, the domaine covers 48 hectares, of which 24 hectares are AOC Vacqueyras, 20 are AOC Gigondas and 4 are AOC Côtes du Rhône.
Our annual production is approximately 130,000 bottles, made from a selection of our best plots. Half of this is sold in France through the usual retail outlets and at our own tasting rooms, while the other half is sold abroad, principally in Belgium, Holland, England, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, the USA, Canada and Japan. The remaining grapes are sold to the village wine-making co-operative in Vacqueyras.
The domaine's land comprises two principal
- 20 hectares surrounding the domaine buildings, situated on terroir that is less typical of the Vacqueyras appellation, namely the clayey, sandy slopes of Aptian sandstone (dating back, geologically, to the Aptian age). These represent only 10% of the Vacqueyras appellation and allow us to produce high quality white, rosé and Syrah-based red wines.
- 15 hectares situated on slopes at the extreme south of the Gigondas appellation, on a hill in the very heart of a magnificent range of rocky peaks, the Dentelles de Montmirail. This land lies in the shadow of the ancient medieval ruins of a former watch tower. The "Sarrasin Tower" dates back to the 8th century, (when the Muslim Moors or Sarrasins were making frequent and devastating raids into Provence from Moorish Spain) and has belonged to our family since the 1950s. This unusual terroir, situated on south-facing slopes, infuses our Gigondas wines with the powerful energy of the sun, tempered by the coolness of the night mountain air.
The grape varieties that we grow to produce our red wines are primarily black Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. However we are keen to add into our blends some of the "forgotten" varieties such as Aubun, Counoise, Cinsault, Muscardin and Carignan. For our white wines we principally use old vines of Clairette, to which we add some Roussane, Grenache Blanc and a little Viognier.
The Vache and Archimbaud families are amongst the oldest families in the village of Vacqueyras. Indeed their names appear in the earliest existing clerical registers.
Furthermore, the oldest part of the domaine buildings, the tasting rooms, dates back to the 12th century when it belonged to the Knights Templar, a medieval order of religious knights (founded in Jerusalem as a fighting force in the 12th century at the height of the religious Crusades). At this time a local farmer was put in charge of rearing the livestock and cultivating the land on behalf of the Knights Templar. This farmer was called "Chasal", a name which over the years became "Cazaux", the current name of the domaine.
The first vines were planted in the 19th century, on the poorest soil, where nothing else would grow. The priorities of the local people during that period where very different to our own, with their main concern being self-sufficiency, that is to ensure that they could produce enough food to survive. These vines simply provided wine for the family's own consumption. During the 20th century vine-growing progressively became the principal agricultural activity in the region – becoming the only crop cultivated after the catastrophic frosts of 1956 decimated the olive groves and orchards of cherry and apricot trees.
During this latter period some important decisions were taken:
At the beginning of the 1950s the Archimbaud family became pioneers in the wine trade, starting to sell their wine by the bottle - and this is how "Clos de Cazaux" came into being. The family extended the domaine by the energetic regrouping of land around the domaine buildings to create a property of 20 hectares. At the same time the family acquired 40 hectares of woodland within the Dentelles de Montmirail, near Gigondas, together with the ruins of the "Tour Sarrasin".
Then, from 1970 onwards, our father Maurice Vache and his wife Lucette (née Archimbaud) dedicated themselves to cultivating and improving the vines of the domaine and it is during this period that the Gigondas woodland was transformed into 15 hectares of vineyard slopes.
From the beginning of the 1980s, the couple decided to develop the bottling and retail side of the business by creating tasting rooms at the domaine and by starting to sell their wines abroad - something almost unheard of in Vacqueyras at that time. Together, thanks to 30 years of unremitting effort and all-consuming passion for their wine, they created all the wines/vintages that you may still enjoy today, earning the domaine the excellent reputation that it has with wine-lovers around the world.
They were then joined by their two sons: by Jean-Michel in 1990 after he obtained his professional qualification in the production and sale of wine; and by Frédéric in 1998, a professional oenologist trained in Dijon with wine-making experience in South Africa. Since 2010 the baton has been passed to them. Faithful to the family's traditional values, they run the domaine with care and with passion – and they look forward to passing it on to the next generation!
During 25 years of tireless endeavour and passion for wine Maurice and Lucette Vache have created all the vintages/wines that have earned the domaine the excellent reputation that it has with wine-lovers around the world. They were joined by their two sons: Jean-Michel in 1990 and Frédéric in 1998. Today it is they who run the domaine with care, passion and a generous spirit. They work in harmony, yet they are so different!
Jean-Michel is a veritable live wire, able to make the best of any situation. Always positive and clear in his choices, he combines creativity with rigour. He is a Latin in the original sense of the word: one can easily imagine him in the 2nd century AD in the same place wearing a tunic over a loincloth and sporting sandals, overseeing the cultivation of the plot of land granted to him by a Roman consul…
Frédéric is as calm as his brother is electric: he likes to take a step back and reflect in order to make the best decision. He is considered and meticulous. There is a craftsman's proverb which says that to work quickly one must work carefully; this could easily be applied to him. Very different they may be, but the two men have formed a harmonious partnership, founded on everything that their parents have taught them – and that is their own shared legacy.