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. The Archimbaud and Vache families are among the oldest ones in Vacqueyras. The oldest part of the property dates back to the 12th century and belonged to "Les Chevaliers de 'dre des Templiers" (the Templar Knights). An ancient Moorish Tower sits on the property, the Tower of Sarrasine in ruins.
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.
The estate spreads over 40 hectares (98.8 acres) of vineyard land:
- 25 ha in Gigondas. The quality of the soil is outstanding and the sun exposure is optimal due to the special location of the vineyard, surrounded by the rocky massif of the "Dentelles de Montmirail", upon which is built the Sarrasine tower.
- 15 ha in Vacqueyras, on sandy-clayey and sunny slopes.
The vineyards are planted to 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre. The vines are 40-50 year old. The annual production is 8,800 to 10,000 cases. The average yield is 28 hl/ha.
The vines are cultivated with utmost respect to the environment. Only Bordeaux mixture (antifungal agent consisting of a solution of copper sulfate and quicklime) and sulfur is used in the phytosanitary (pertaining to the health of plant) and vineyard treatment. At all times, the vineyards are manually tended, including manual harvest. To ensure optimal quality, only the best grapes are selected during a green harvest in Summer which eliminates at least 20% of the production. Each grape variety is picked at its optimum maturity and vinified separately. Syrah is usually harvested first, followed by Grenache and then Mourvèdre. The whole clusters are placed into specially equipped bins having a screw in the bottom that allow the grapes to fall into the tanks without any crushing. This near carbonic fermentation period depends on the grape varieties and the conditions. When the fermentation is complete, the varietal wines are blended together (typically in November).
The maturation takes place first in stainless steel tanks for the juice to settle, then in concrete or enamel tanks. The wines mature in the cellars for at least 2 years before bottling. There is no fining, and only a light filtration to limit the natural deposit on the bottle.