Five Centuries of Elegance
For five centuries, the history of Château La Nerthe and Châteauneuf-du-Pape have melded into one. For five centuries, natural springs and a mosaic of soils and subsoils have given the estate’s wines freshness and elegance. For five centuries, generations of passionate women and men have followed one other at the service of this unique terroir.
Château La Nerthe, the only true château in Châteauneuf-du-Pape with its long history, produces magnificent wines.
To the west, the Rhône as it continues its course towards the Mediterranean, less than 100km to the south.
- To the east is Mont Ventoux, the giant of Provence from the top of its 1912 m.
- To the south, Avignon city of the Popes.
- To the north, Orange, a Roman town with its ancient theater and Roman triumphal arch.
Château La Nerthe's history dates back 500 years: First and foremost, this is the story of a great Châteauneuf-du-Pape terroir.
The Tulle de Villefranche FamilyThe first deed attesting to the existence of Château La Nerthe was signed on November 25, 1590, with its acquisition by the Tulle de Villefranche family. It was then a country house known as the Grange de Beauvenir. Over the next three centuries, the Tulle de Villefranche never stopped developing and beautifying their estate. Marquis Jean-Dominique Tulle de Villefranche (1711-1760) completed making it one of the flagship estates of the Rhône Valley by launching the castle's construction on the foundations of the medieval cellar. They innovated in the vineyard and the wine cellar, for example, shipping bottled wines starting in 1776, a first for the region. The Tulle de Villefranche were also tireless travelers and ambassadors for their wines, ensuring early on that they would adorn the best tables in France, Europe, and even in North America from 1786! A tradition that we are proud to continue three centuries later.
Commander Joseph Ducos
In May 1877, the Tulle de Villefranche family sold the estate, ravaged by phylloxera, to Commander Joseph Ducos. A Polytechnician like his father, Ducos, was the first to understand the interest of grafting vines on rootstock, resistant to the devastating insect, and put the work of the Montpellier School of agricultural into practice.
"As early as 1878, Commander Ducos undertook with tireless ardor the resurrection of his Clos de La Nerthe. He was so successful that after a few years, the winegrowers of Châteauneuf, at first incredulous and skeptical but then convinced and conquered, followed his example and imitated him. So, we can say without exaggeration that Châteauneuf owes its wine restoration to Ducos: he was the soul and the craftsman.
His first concern had been to preserve the ancient qualities of La Nerthe wines, their body, and bouquet. For that, he had tried to graft only the territory's old plants, Mourvèdre, Grenache, Terret, Syrah, Counoise, red grape varieties, giving heat, liquor, mellowness, solidity; and then Clairette and Picpoul, white grape varieties intended to bring finesse, freshness and a distinct bouquet. "
The foundations of what would become in 1936 the first Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée in France were laid!
As deputy mayor of the village, it is also to Joseph Ducos that we owe the brilliant idea of replacing the appellation Châteauneuf-Calcernier with Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
The Richard Family
Today, the Richard Family envisions the wines of tomorrow and continues to write the story of Château La Nerthe, with the ambition of preserving and revealing this unique architectural and wine-making heritage.
After a troubled period, marked by the requisition of the castle by the German occupation army in 1943, the Richard Family acquired the estate in April 1985. They immediately displayed the ambition to go back to the original values of excellence and innovation of the two illustrious families that preceded them. They undertook the meticulous restoration of the castle and the digging of a modern wine cellar.
Above all, they focused efforts on the vineyard, extending it in 1991, from 60 to 92 hectares (148-227 acres) with the acquisition of magnificent plots located in neighboring La Crau. These additional parcels included an extraordinary heritage of old vines, some dating back to the end of the 19th century.
At the same time, the entire estate was converted to organic farming, obtaining Ecocert certification in 1998. Château La Nerthe, once again a pioneer!