The ground at Beaucastel is marked by the violence wrought by the Rhone river. It consists of a layer of marine molasses (sandstone) of the Miocene period, covered by alpine alluvium. The presence in this topsoil of a great number of rounded stones, known as "galets", bears evidence of the time when the Rhone, then a torrent, tore fragments of rock from the Alps and deposited them along its course.
This is the story of the typical soil of Beaucastel. These "galets" make a significant contribution to the quality of the wines: they retain the heat of the day and radiate it to the vines during the night.
The meso-climate here plays an important role: low rainfall, the Mistral wind that clears the air and keeps it dry, and strong and continuous sun.
All these components - notably the spectacular differences between high and low temperatures - combine and complement each other to give the vineyard of Beaucastel its particular qualities and originality (the characteristics of a "grand cru").
The nature of the soil at Beaucastel is stony, well aerated and free-draining. The vine puts down strong roots here. Amongst the effects of this soil:
- the upper surface warms up very quickly in spring
- water drains off fast
- the vines suffer during summer drought
In 1321, under the reign of Pope John XXII, four barrels were brought from the papal cellar in Avignon to be filled with wine in Châteauneuf. Subsequently, the Popes increased their vineyard holdings in the region and the papal wine gained in fame.
The Beaucastel family were living in Courthezon by the middle of the sixteenth century.
In 1549 "Noble Pierre de Beaucastel" bought "a barn with its plot of land extending to 52 saumées at Coudoulet".
Later, the manor house that we know today was built here and you can still see the arms of the Beaucastel family sculpted in stone in one of walls of the drawingroom.
The Beaucastels were among the more notable families of this little town and in 1687 Pierre de Beaucastel, in recognition of his conversion to Catholicism after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, was appointed "Capitaine de la ville de Courthezon" by Louis XIV. The letter from Louis XIV, also signed by Colbert, to Pierre de Beaucastel is still in our possession.
Two centuries later at the time of the phylloxera, the owner of Beaucastel was Elie Dussaud, a companion of Ferdinand de Lesseps who built the Suez Canal.
In 1909 Pierre Tramier bought the property and Beaucastel then passed to his son-in-law, Pierre Perrin, a scientist who considerably increased the vineyard holding. His efforts were continued by Jacques Perrin until 1978...
Today the torch is carried by Jean Pierre and François, sons of Jacques. But Marc, Pierre, Thomas and Matthieu, who represent the fifth generation, are ready to pursue this fabulous family history.