Posted on November 30th, 2007
Outside the usual suspects from Bordeaux, Châteauneuf du Pape is probably one of the best known names in French reds.
Why it’s normally so expensive is hard to fathom, purely down to favourable reviews from the world’s most famous wine writer, Robert Parker perhaps? In Ireland, you don’t often see bottles of it for less than €20, so when I saw Châteauneuf du Pape “Cuvee des Remperts” Louis Montellier 2006 on sale for €12.99 in SuperValu, Aston Quay, I thought it was worth a punt.
While tucking into it I decided to do a bit of good old booklearnin’ about it. So here’s some wine facts coming up (skip this, what was it like?)
Some wine facts about Châteauneuf du Pape…
- A village in the southern Rhône valley, near Avignon, about 100km north of Marseille (see it all on a Google map).
- 13 different grape varieties (both red and white) are permitted to go into a Châteauneuf du Pape, most of which it has has to be said, I’ve never heard of.
- Grenache (red),
- Syrah (red),
- Mourvèdre (red),
- Cinsault (red),
- Counoise (red),
- Terret Noir (red),
- Muscardin (red)
- Vaccarèse (red),
- Clairette (white),
- Roussanne (white),
- Picpoul (white),
- Picardan (white)
- and Bourboulenc (white).
- Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre are the dominant grapes, the others are used in small quantities
- The name comes from “New house of the pope” as the papacy was based in nearby Avignon in the 14th century.
- Since 1923, had the first “Appellation Contrôlée” rules in France
- Most bottles are dark and come embossed with a papal seal
How did this Châteauneuf go down?
- Smell: strong rich spices, predominantly black pepper
- Taste: savoury spices, cinnamon, cloves and pepper. The only fruit would be more like raisins, figs or prunes.
- Verdict: I quite liked this wine, it really stands out. There’s no danger of confusing it with most other reds from other regions in France (at least not the ones that I’ve tried).
Due to it’s spiciness, Châteauneuf du Pape probably won’t have a middle ground, a wine you either love or hate. The usual price of €20 and over could put a lot of people off.
Like the wine, but not the price?
If you like this kind of wine, but find it hard to stomach the normal retail price, I’d recommend Gigondas or Vacqueyras, both no more than 5 or 6 km from Châteauneuf du Pape and often much better value.
What does Gary think?
Back in October, Gary Vaynerchuk took at look at three “Paps”. Here’s how he got on.