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Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blend Red

mourvedre grapes with galets in chateauneuf du papeToday the wines of Châteauneuf du Pape, approximately 95% of which are red, are the most highly-regarded and sought after wines in all of the Southern Rhône. The many different styles of red Châteauneuf du Pape are due to the blend of different grape varieties (the Châteauneuf du Pape red blend) which may be used to produce this famous wine as much as to the range of terroirs within the appellation. Typical flavours and perfumes include a range of red and black fruits, pepper, spice, the wild herbs of the garrigue such as thyme and rosemary and, for some expensive cuvées at least, the flavour of vanilla from the new oak barriques in which the wine undergoes a period of maturation. In general they are medium-bodied to big wines, matured in the much larger old oak foudres, and with a generous dose of alcohol. They partner well with a wide range of red meat and game dishes as well as soft cheeses such as Brillat Savarin, Epoisses de Bourgogne and Pont L'Evêque.

Perhaps more than any other wine producing area of France it has experienced marked fluctuations of fortune in its long history. Although vines were first thought to have been planted by the Romans the wine-producing area made its early reputation when the Papacy was established here between 1309 - 1378. The church established new vineyards and the resulting wine enjoyed a good reputation and Papal approval. The Papacy's move back to Rome saw a comparative downturn in fortunes although wine was still important to the economy locally. Following the disaster of phylloxera which affected the area in 1866 killing off the majority of the vines the wine sold for such a low price that few growers could afford to replant their vineyards. By the 1880s a mere 200 hectares was under vine compared with today's 3,200 hectares. This increase was achieved slowly and two personalities can be regarded as being of crucial importance in Châteauneuf du Pape's recrudescence.

The first of these was Baron le Roy, the wealthy owner of several leading estates in the area such as Ch. Fortia, Ch. Rayas and Ch. La Nerthe who was a leading instigator in drawing up the boundaries and the regulations under which the wines of Châteauneuf du Pape were made in 1923. This appellation was the first in France to be recognised in 1936 as an Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée or a wine with a controlled designation of origin. The template had been created which would shape the fortunes of the French wine industry for many decades to come. These measures laid down a minimum standard which underpinned a resurgence of the area's fortunes. The second huge boost came courtesy of the world's most widely read and revered wine critic Robert Parker. It was his championing of the wines of the Rhône Valley, and Châteauneuf du Pape in particular, that gave an enormous impetus to the area during the latter part of the 20th. century. Good reviews led to increased demand, this in turn led to higher prices and much of the increased wealth of the growers and producers was re-invested in both vineyard and winery leading to the creation of even better wines.

The stereotypical image of a vineyard in Châteauneuf du Pape consists of land littered with the galets or large, flat, round stones which reflect light back to the grapes and which also absorb heat during the day radiating it back to the vines at night thus aiding the ripening process. In reality there is a multiplicity of terroirs in the appellation. Soils in the west are rocky and include some limestone outcrops. The galets as well as stones and pebbles of all shapes and sizes help to produce ripe grapes with good concentration and intensity. To the north near the town of Orange the soils are sandier and contain clays, pebbles, limestone and marls but with fewer of the larger stones and rocks. Wine made from grapes grown here are more elegant and supple, the higher the proportion of clays the richer the wines. To the south lies an area of shallow sand and clay soil sitting on a well-drained layer of gravel. Within these areas there is also some soil variation. Many producers produce wines by blending different grapes harvested from diverse plots across the region while some others are beginning to make wines that reflect a particular terroir.

Grapes Used in Châteauneuf du Pape Red Blend

When the regulations were drawn up governing the new Apellation d'Origine Contrôlée system in Châteauneuf du pape a total of 13 grape varieties was permitted for the red blend including some white varieties. These were Grenache Noir, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault and local grape Counoise together with smaller proportions of Vaccar&egrave'se, Muscardin, Picpoul (Noir), Terret Noir, Clairette, Bourboulenc, Rousanne and Picardan. Today another 5 varieties have been added to the list, viz. Grenache Blanc, Grenache Rosé, Picpoul Blanc, Picpoul Rosé and, finally, Clairette Rosé. These grape varieties coupled with the range of terroirs and the fact that many growers and producers own scattered plots forms a rich and broad palette from which the blended wine can be made. Some wines are made from 100% Grenache Noir harvested from one vineyard, others are the result of a blend of both grapes and plots - hence the wide variation in style of these wines. Although some of the best wines can last for a few decades almost all Châteauneuf du Pape reds make good drinking upon their release. Organic farming is increasingly popular, the long, warm, dry summers make this much more realistic than in more marginal areas further north. Below is a summary of the qualities of the most important grape varieties that make the blend.

Grenache Noir

Grenache Noir au Jus Blanc, to give it its full name, is the most widely planted grape in the whole of the southern Rhône. It ripens well here with high sugar levels translating into wines with high alcohol content. Its wines are sweet from the grapes' ripeness although they can lack the depth of, for example, Syrah. In 2014 72% of the vineyards here were planted with Grenache Noir. With its thin skins it is ideally suited to the area which is usually very warm and dry during the growing season. Typical flavours include red and black cherry, blackberry, white pepper and licorice with a smooth, somewhat oily, texture. There are many old Grenache vines growing here some of which are more than 100 years old.

Syrah

Although Syrah has long been a recognised part of the Châteauneuf blend its vines only make up about 3% of the total plantings. In the 1980s and 1990s Syrah experienced a surge in popularity and plantings increased enormously across France with those in Châteauneuf increasing to more than 10% of the total. Syrah, a small, thick-skinned grape, does have a broader, more complex, flavour profile than Grenache though with blackberry, black cherry, blueberry, plum, spice, earthy notes, chocolate, licorice, pepper, truffle and floral notes. It also adds fine tannins to the blend. The southern Rhône, however, is not Syrah's natural home and although it is used to add structure, body, back-bone and depth of colour it has lost some popularity with growers.

Mourvèdre

The Mourvèdre grape is now the second most widely planted in this appellation, at about 7% of the total, having overtaken Syrah. Its natural home is in Spain and it is well-suited to long, very warm, even hot, dry summers. Its thick skins help to protect it from both disease and the heat and the ripe grapes add a good level of alcohol, depth and tannic structure to the blend. It has flavours of blackcurrant and blackberry in youth but at four to five years old it develops greater complexity with leather, truffle, game, spice and sweet jammy dark fruits. One top cuvée, Hommage a Jacques Perrin from the Château Beaucastel, uses up to 60% Mourvèdre in the blend and some cuvèes can be made from as much as 100% Mourvèdre.

Cinsault

Cinsault thrives in the baked landscape of the southern Rhône Valley. It easily withstands the winds of the mistral and is an early ripening variety with high yields but low in tannin and acidity. In Châteauneuf du Pape it provides under 3% of the total harvest although it is grown much more widely outside the appellation being a major component of many rosé wines. It offers ripe strawberry fruit with floral notes.

Other Châteauneuf du Pape Red Blend Grapes

The four grape varieties above comprise a little over 84% of vine plantings in Châteauneuf du Pape with the remaining 16% being divided between 14 more grapes - including white and rosé varieties. These are:
Black Grapes: Counoise, Vaccar&egrave'se, Muscardin, Picpoul Noir, Terret Noir.
White Grapes: Clairette, Bourboulenc, Rousanne, Picardin, Picpoul Blanc, Grenache Blanc.
Rosé Grapes: Grenache Rosé, Picpoul Rosé, Clairette Rosé.

 

Short Video about Châteauneuf du Pape

  1. Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe , Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 1985

    Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe , Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 1985

    From one of the most highly rated estates in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The 1985 vintage is still a complex red wine featuring wood smoke, cigar box and some spice on the nose and palate.

    Details
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Châteauneuf du Pape Blend Red
    Country France

    £134.40

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  2. Les Galets du Haut, Louis Bernard, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 2011

    Les Galets du Haut, Louis Bernard, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 2011

    A delicious Châteauneuf-du-Pape that drinks well at a younger age than many wines from this appellation.

    Details
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Châteauneuf du Pape Blend Red
    Country France

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  3. Paul Avril Clos des Papes, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 2008

    Paul Avril, Clos des Papes, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 2008

    Another very good vintage of this wine which deserves a very good winter game dish to showcase its quality.

    Details
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Châteauneuf du Pape Blend Red
    Country France

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  4. Tardieu-Laurent, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 2007

    Tardieu-Laurent, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 2007

    Although a modern style Châteauneuf-du-Pape with a fruit-forward approach it will nevertheless evolve for another 10 years yet.

    Details
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Châteauneuf du Pape Blend Red
    Country France

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  5. Château St-Jean, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 2011

    Château St-Jean, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 2011

    A fruity Châteauneuf-du-Pape with plenty of fleshy texture to keep the cold at bay .

    Details
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Châteauneuf du Pape Blend Red
    Country France

    Out of stock

  6. Domaine de Saint Préfert Collection Charles Giraud, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 2009 (Magnum)

    Domaine de Saint Préfert Collection Charles Giraud, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 2009 (Magnum)

    The Domaine de Saint Préfert Collection Charles Giraud, 2009, is a profound red wine from Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It is remarkably complex and is a result of meticulous wine-making and great attention to the vineyards. It has a good strong nose with notes of licorice, incense, lavender, new saddle leather, blackberry and kirsch along with some tree bark and roasted meats.

    Details
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Grenache, Mourvedre
    Country France

    Out of stock

  7. Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 2005 (Magnum)

    Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 2005 (Magnum)

    An exceptional wine from the best of vintages in this area, in recent years. Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe, 2005, has a good nose of ripe red berries, tannic to the taste but with very well-balanced acidity and a fresh fruity taste. It gets silkier over the course of a few hours.

    Details
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Châteauneuf du Pape Blend Red
    Country France

    Out of stock

  8. Paul Avril Clos des Papes, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 2010 (Double Magnum)

    Paul Avril Clos des Papes, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 2010 (Double Magnum)

    Very highly regarded by Robert Parker, this would make a fantastic accompaniment to a celebration meal any time of year but especially at Christmas.

    Details
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Châteauneuf du Pape Blend Red
    Country France

    Out of stock

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