Le Clos des Grillons
Côtes du Rhône
Nicolas Renaud is a talented winemaker introduced to me by Eric Pfifferling of Domaine L'Anglore. Recommendations don't get any better than that.
Nicolas used to be a history teacher at the local university until his passion for wine saw him rent a very old parcel of vines near Rochfort du Gard, to the West of Tavel and in AOC Côtes du Rhône. Nicolas formally quit the teaching sector in 2005. At that time he went to work for 2 years at the Vieille Julienne in Châteauneuf du Pâpe, both in the vineyards and in the cellar, to better the knowledge that he had already accumulated by meeting winemakers and vignerons throughout his region. All the while, he took his first vineyards 'en fermage' in 2006, in Rochefort and also near Uzes. Typically, he would prune 8 or 9 hours at la Vielle Julienne and then do it again on his own vines in the evening!
With the continued crisis of oversupply in this part of France there weren't many other people interested in starting a winery and it allowed him to find interesting vineyards, either to rent or to buy, which was very important to him as he didn't have family owned vineyards to start his business. It is a godsend that there was no competition, particularly for his old vines, yielding small volumes of grapes, because the co-ops, who would usually be on the lookout, ask for far more productive vineyards. For the types and styles of wines that Nicolas wanted to make, inspired by visits to Domaine Gramenon and his friendship with Eric Pfifferling, these 70-80 years old vineyards with yields in the range of 20-25 hectoliters per hectare were just perfect. In total, he makes 400 hectoliters of wine from his surface of 18 hectares!
Today he works from his home with his small meticulous winery and barrel store located in his extended garage and his methods are similar to those employed at our other Rhone Valley estates whereby freshness, fruit and vibrancy is prized over sheer concentration and heroics.
His style is unsurprisingly like that of his friend Eric Pfifferling with perhaps more bass. All the wines are perfumed, lively, elegant and extremely vibrant, in short - bursting with personality, vitality and life.