Marcel Richaud is largely responsible for putting Cairanne, one of the best terroirs in the vast Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages designation, on the map.

Richaud comes from a vine growing family who historically sold grapes to the local cave cooperative, a time when being a cooperator was very prosperous. So it came as a shock when 17 year old Marcel told his father he wanted to become a vigneron indépendant. This was incomprehensible and felt very risky; in his father’s eyes there was nothing to gain other than more work and less pay. Undeterred, Marcel started with 14 hectares of his aunt’s vines, producing his first vintage at 19 years old in a dilapidated cellar with no roof. He quickly made a name for himself in the nascent Parisian natural wine scene of the early 90’s and eventually began incorporating his father’s cooperative vines into his eponymous production.

Today, Marcel is retired and the estate is run by his children Thomas, Claire and Edith. The estate has grown to a sizeable 80 hectares over the years, a combination of Marcel progressively recouping family vineyards from the cooperative and purchasing land; about 40 hectares come from the family and the other 40 have been purchased or planted since the 1980’s.

The focus is on harvesting a healthy and ripe crop, with the wines made in large cement vats, each varietal vinified apart until a blend is done about eight months later. In 2000, a cellar was built of yellow sandstone blocks (from the Pont du Gard quarry), permitting for casks and barriques to be incorporated into the winemaking. Vinifications occur with native yeasts and without any additions of S02. The wines are never fined or filtered, and only a small amount of sulfur is added at bottling.

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