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Beaucastel to harness wind power in 10m euro cellar plan

Château de Beaucastel of Châteauneuf-du-Pape is set to spend 10 million euros on rebuilding its cellars with an ecological focus, including a project to harness the cooling effect of the region's notorious 'Mistral' wind.

Beaucastel owner, the Perrin family, revealed more details of the 10m euro (£8.79m) at a press conference in Paris last week.

Renovation work at the 80-hectare estate will harness the power of the Rhône Valley’s famous Mistral wind to limit the use of artificial air conditioning and bring down current cellar temperatures from 14°C to a desired 12°C, said estate co-owner Charles Perrin.

After a lengthy design competition with 300 candidates, Château de Beaucastel chose the Indian firm Studio Mumbai, whose founder Bijoy Jain emphasises local materials, techniques and builders, for the project.

‘They really took the time to see and understand our terroir and climate and to propose a design that made the most sense to us,’ Perrin told Decanter.com.

How will it work?

beaucastel cellars

A snapshot of a blueprint of how the new Beaucastel cellar system can capture rain water and make use of wind power to keep cellars cool. Credit: Perrin Family / Studio Mumbai. 

The project will work with pipes to channel the region’s Mistral wind into a 10-metre deep basin filled with collected rainwater, said Studio Mumbai architect Louis-Antoine Grégo.

The transferred air would pass over the surface of the underground rainwater basin, where its temperature would drop to around 12°C. It would then be channelled to cool cellars naturally, Grégo explained.

The Beacuastel project is expected to start after the 2019 harvest and to last about 18 months.

‘It is very dry in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, so we need to preserve water,’ Perrin said.

Rainwater will be collected from estate rooftops, which are also to be redesigned for that purpose. A three-step filtration system will ensure that the water is pure, Grégo said.

The renovation, called ‘cut and fill’, means that all new construction will be made from excavated local earth. Concrete will be made from a mix of lime, local clays and sand.

‘Nothing will be removed and nothing new will be added,’ said Grégo. If there is not enough airflow to keep temperatures at 12°C, a more traditional back up air conditioning system will work, although using biofuel and not petrol.

‘The principal estate buildings of Beaucastel will remain as they are today, so you will not see a ‘before and after’ photo of striking contrast’,’ Perrin said.

During the 18-month construction, existing bottles will be stocked elsewhere in temperature and humidity controlled storage, Perrin said.

See also:

Château de Beaucastel wines for your cellar

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