5 centuries of History
5 centuries of History
Birthplace of the Appellation
Château La Nerthe is located in the heart of the Provence region in southeast France, about 80 km north of Marseille. It is a magical place thanks to its cellars dating back to the 16th century and belvedere viewpoint dominated by the 18th century chateau. Between Avignon and Orange, we find the breath-taking landmarks of Les Dentelles de Montmirail, Mount Ventoux and the Palais des Papes.
The vines spread over 92 hectares of Châteauneuf du Pape appellation, parcelled into more than 57 plots and representing all the different terroirs of the appellation.
The Chateau is striking and unforgettable, nestled in its green park, like an island surrounded by 60 hectares of ancient vineyards that form one whole piece. Yet despite its majestic air, the Chateau has always been a welcoming place, inviting one to linger and discuss its wines.
Wines from La Nerthe have been appreciated for a very long time, as we can see in works by authors and scholars of the 18th century.
In the work “La Grande Ronde du Petit Vaudeville” by Antoine-Pierre-Augustin de Piis, a writer in the court of Louis XVI, we see that the Clos Vougeot and La Nerthe are the only ones named among the 25 wines quoted in this ode to Bacchus.
In his “Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine” of 1870, Alexandre Dumas catalogues around 60 great red wines of France. The only wine of Châteauneuf du Pape listed and of the Vaucluse region, is Le Clos de La Nerthe.
At the start of the 20th century, Frédéric Mistral, Nobel Price of Litterature in 1904, a native of Maillane near Saint-Rémy de Provence, often praised the wines of La Nerthe in his numerous poems. He enjoyed coming to La Nerthe with friends in order to share ideas, good times and good wines.
For 5 centuries, Château La Nerthe has maintained the tradition of giving a refined welcome to all passing visitors – the same as for great amateurs and friends.
5 centuries of History
Château La Nerthe is one of those domains whose values of excellence, longevity and elegance have earned it the position of first among equals among the historic property of Châteauneuf du Pape. It has received the most conscientious care by its successive owners: men of convictions, aristocrats, agronomists and more. All of them have strived for La Nerthe to acquire and uphold a reputation for excellence.
In the very heart of a region steeped in art, culture and savoir vivre, Château La Nerthe lives, breathes and draws inspiration from its surroundings. Elegance is the common thread in the welcome given to its visitors and to its wines. The guest of Château La Nerthe perceives this perfectly through all the senses when going up the cypress bordered path leading to the Château.
Surrounded by the oldest vines of the estate, it is also flanked by trees and outbuildings some 200 year old. The aromatic waves follow one another according to the season : from almond flower to notes of the garrigue via orange blossom and subtle vine-flower fragrance. In wine terms, elegance is the expression of the terroir coupled with a “hands-off” policy of man, who is only there to magnify elegance.
The length on the palate and the finesse revealed in the wines of Château La Nerthe bear witness to that quality.
5 centuries of History
1560 – the beginning. The Tulle de Villefranche family who had lived in Avignon since the 14th century, bought some land, vines, a barn and a 15th century bastide. The family maintained the estate for some 300 years before strongly developing the vineyards in the 18th century under the guidance of Marquis Jean-Dominique Tulle de Villefranche (1711-1760). The domain thus became one of the leading wine properties of the Rhône valley.
1694. The construction of the castle started with two towers and a chapel. Between 1736 and 1784. The Castle, as we know it today, took shape, allowing the Tulle de Villefranche family to reside there on sunny days and to receive guests in a pleasant, comfortable style.
The Tulle de Villefranche family records help us to trace how the wine of La Nerthe acquired its reputation in France and in Europe - and how it was exported to the United States. A reputation that has allowed Châteauneuf du Pape to become a great wine and an outstanding appellation of great standing.
Certain members of the Tulle de Villefranche family with very high military positions enabled marketing networks across Europe. In the 18th century, wine from La Nerthe was already being sold in Russia, America, England, Germany, Italy and Spain. Then, in 1776, La Nerthe, became the first of Châteauneuf-du-Pape to ship its wine in bottles, thus gradually abandoning the barrel.
This was “a first” that reinforced the fame of its wines. (5 years earlier, the Marquis de Rochegude had been the first in the Rhone Valley to do so). The conservation of wine in bottles does have a precedent nonetheless, it goes back to 1649 with Arnaud III de Pontac, owner of Château Haut-Brion. The first exports to the United States date from the spring of 1786. There was no continuity however because of the French Revolution. Transport of the wines was made easier by the proximity of Avignon, where goods were shipped on the Rhone.
In 1870 the Tulle de Villefranche family sold Château La Nerthe to Commander Joseph Ducos. At the end of the 19th century, while others were tearing out vines to plant fruit trees, he recognized the interest of grafting vines onto phylloxera resistant rootstocks while putting into practice the research of the Montpellier School of Agriculture. Joseph Ducos rapidly rebuilt the vineyards of La Nerthe, which went on to receive the gold medal awarded by the Vaucluse Chamber of Agriculture in 1891. Initially viewed with astonishment or disdain by his neighbours, he was then successfully imitated. He was cited by French President Lebrun as "the spirit of the viticultural reconstruction".
This was the renaissance of the “avant-garde and excellence” approach at Château La Nerthe, and thanks to the experiments of Joseph Ducos a real winemaking revolution was launched. He planted local grape varieties and new grape varieties according to the different soils of La Nerthe. His work pinpointed the value of 10 of the 13 founding grape varieties of the Châteauneuf du Pape appellation. He also inspired Baron Le Roy de Boiseaumarie, his neighbour at Chateau Fortia who made Châteauneuf du Pape the first Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée in France in 1936.
In 1985, the Richard family acquired Château La Nerthe with the aim of reviving the original values of excellence and innovation. Owner it in several regions, Les Domaines Richard has expertise at all levels of the wine trade.