The Vidal family has deep roots in Châteauneuf-du-Pape - going back to the 16th century. After the tough times following WWII, the family was forced to sell their modest landholdings. More than forty years later in 1989, Jean-Claude Vidal, tired of the fast-paced architect’s life in Toulouse, bought back his family’s original 7 parcels totaling just 3 hectares and made his dream come true.
Domaine du Banneret came to our attention originally because Jean-Claude is the uncle of our dear friend Jean-Marc Espinasse, founder of Domaine Rouge-Bleu. There are interesting and similar philosophies. Jean-Marc will be the first to admit that he learned much from his uncle - learned the principles of biodynamic farming, the importance of closeness to the land, and the concept of terroir. Another lesson was that less can be more - small estates are able to remain true to their ideals more easily than large estates, and offer the owner something we’ll call artistic freedom, the liberating option to do it “my” way. Both are passionate about old vines, about using stems and whole clusters in the fermentation, about not covering their terroir with oak. They learned these lessons from Jean-Claude’s school-time friend, the great Henri Bonneau, who gave support and guidance to Jean-Claude Vidal in his first few vintages, starting in 1989, and even lent the use of his cellars until Jean-Claude was able to purchase the current cellars in Châteauneuf-town in 1991. Few producers craft such age worthy, traditional wines. The first two vintages of Banneret were done chez Bonneau.
Fermentation takes place without destemming, in concrete vats. Typically it lasts about 3 weeks. The wine passes two years in always-used Bordeaux and Burgundy barrels (I have a recent note saying “looking at a barrel from 2007, Domaine Romanée Conti”). The wines are bottled with minimal filtration, having been racked at least twice, often three or four times (“racking cleans the wine naturally, and gives it an important dose of oxygenation,” says Jean-Claude). Total output is a minuscule 800 cases in an average vintage, from vines that yield a microscopic 27 hectoliters per hectare.
The younger generation has made a welcome appearance, for the estate must live on. the lovely Audrey Vidal, the daughter of Jean-Claude and Marie Francoise Vidal, lived for several years in Verona, Italy, but moved back to this small village in 2012. She understands and embraces her duty to continue this wonderful, traditional project, great in importance even if small in scope, even if she has already purchased an additional 0.5 hectare in order to make a small statement of her own: I have myself arrived.
Winery: Domaine du Banneret
Region: Rhone-Sud (Southern Rhone)
Farming: Uses biodynamic practices