Rhône 18 - The Prince's cellar
Cellier des Princes Coopérative - Courthézon
Winemaker: Thierry Ferlay
Annual production: 300,000-400,000 bottles
One and only cooperative in the Châteauneuf du Pape appellation
A local treasure with 120ha of Châteauneuf du Pape across all towns and soil types of the appellation
Affordable quality wines at all levels meticulously vinified by oenologist Thierry Ferlay
Top wines: Chardonnay-Viognier 2017
Cellier des Princes is a quality-focused cooperative regrouping 189 grape growers and is based a stone's throw from Châteauneuf du Pape in Courthézon. The cooperative, the first and only in Châteauneuf was created in 1925 -nine years before the Châteauneuf du Pape appellation was even born- to defend the interest of the grape growers in Courthézon. Recently, the cooperative shifted its production from bulk to bottled wine. And the result is impressive: the 'Princes' cellar' increased the sales of bottled stock from 30% to 70% of its turnover and keeps critical acclaim.
Thierry Ferlay is the go-to-man at the winery
Thierry Ferlay has been a key driver in this success. At 28 and after a short time at Rutherglen Estate in Australia, the Rhône-born oenologist started at the Cellier. Since then, he has been continuously driving the wine quality upwards. When you visit the vast winery, it transpires very quickly how he has become the indispensable go-to-man there: from welcoming the various grape growers delivering the grapes (and checking their quality) to dispensing advice to the new trainee about bentonite collage, receiving suppliers to fix an issue with one of the press, coordinating shifts with the team, checking the drapeaux (devices cooling down the fermenting wine if temperature gets too high) in the tanks or debating with another local winemaker on the best way to filter wines. Thierry does it all. Meticulously, tirelessly and very humbly too. No wonder that Philippe Cambie -the Grenache specialist who got 15 times 100/100 from Robert Parker!- recently agreed to partner with Thierry and the Cellier des Princes for the creation of two new wines including a Châteauneuf du Pape.
Cellier des Princes’ Wine Cathedral
Made from Chardonnay and Viognier from vineyards surrounding Châteauneuf du Pape, this aromatic little number is very well crafted and offers great value. Both varieties are fermented at low temperature (12-14C), hence capturing flowery aromas (from the Chardonnay) along with apricot, peachy notes (from the Viognier). Whilst some Rhône whites can lack acidity, this wine is fresh and a perfect match with a chicken Caesar salad or a slightly creamy lemon sole. The Cellier des Princes' Chardonnay-Viognier 2017 also boasts a Gold medal and a ridiculous price tag of €5.50 at the cellar's shop (!!). 16/20
A fraction of the prince's cellar