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ULTIMATE Guide to Chateauneuf du Pape - WineO Mark
Chateauneuf du Pape wines are some of the most renowned and sought-after wines in the world. And they are generally regarded as the pinnacle of Southern Rhône wines.
And this historic region is so also famous for many other reasons:
- 1st AOC (Appellation Contrôlée rules in France) in early 1900s
- 1st to suffer from phylloxera—a nasty pest that ravaged vineyards across Europe.
- One of the 1st wines to be plagued by wine fraud!
But what exactly is Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine? Where does it come from? What does it taste like? And what are the best vintages to look out for? So in this blog post, we will answer all of these questions and more!
Table of Contents
What is Chateauneuf du Pape?
Châteauneuf-du-Pape (CdP) is the 1st classified appellation in France’s AOC system. And it’s a very large appellation located in the southern part of France’s Rhône Valley.
They make delicious Grenache-based red blends in this wine appellation that have earned it a renowned reputation. And this region produces mainly red and a small amount of white wines made from thirteen (13) different grape varieties, including Mourvèdre, Syrah and Cinsault. But in 2009, the AOC rules changed that list to eighteen (18) varieties.
What are the Chateauneuf du Pape Grape Varieties?
- Red: Grenache, Cinsault, Counoise, Mourvèdre, Muscardin, Syrah, Terret Noir, Clairette Rose, Piquepoul Noir and Vaccarèse
- White: Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Bourboulenc, Clairette, Picardan, Roussanne, Piquepoul Blanc, and Piquepoul Gris
Where is Chateauneuf du Pape?
Châteauneuf-du-Pape stands out among the 19 other official crus of the distinguished Côtes du Rhône wine region. It’s situated in the Southern Rhône Valley, between Avignon and Orange, close to the border of Provence.
And it’s made up of five villages/communes: Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Courhézon, Orange, Bédarrides, and Sorgues
What is the Terroir?
Its famous terroir consists of a layer of stones/pebble rock (galets roulés), as well as clay-limestone and sand soils.
- The stone accumulates heat during the day and releases it at night, thus speeding up the ripening of the grapes. Additionally, stones can form a protective layer that preserves moisture in the ground during sweltering summer days.
- Wines with a richer flavor and higher tannin levels often derive from soils composed of clay.
- Wines with a more complex and refined aroma often originate from soils that are higher in sand content.
And finally this appellation is among the sunniest regions in France!
- Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines are known for their high alcohol content, usually ranging from 14 – 15.5%. According to the appellation regulations, a minimum of 12.5% ABV must be upheld.
- Typically all red wines in the region go through malolactic fermentation while most white varieties do not undergo this process.
- Traditionally, Grenache grapes aren’t destemmed giving a higher tannin levels and a darker wine color
- The common technique of using utilizing large concrete and stainless steel vats to ferment their wines in this region. Due to the fact that Grenache, the main grape variety used, is vulnerable to oxidation in wooden barrels.
What is the History of Chateauneuf du Pape?
The name Châteauneuf-du-Pape comes from the 1300s, when Pope Clement V moved the Papal court to Avignon and built a castle in the area. During this period, vines were planted and winemakers began producing wine in the area, setting a foundation for years to come.
And the wines produced in this region came to be known as “Châteauneuf-du-Pape”, meaning “Pope’s New Castle”.
And then in the early 1900s, it was the first Appellation Contrôlée (AOC) in France and one of the first wines to suffer from phylloxera—a nasty pest that ravaged vineyards across Europe. It was also one of the first wines to be plagued by wine fraud.
What Does Chateauneuf du Pape Taste Like?
Chateauneuf du Pape wines have unique and complex flavors. They tend to be quite full-bodied and earthy with fruit aromas of raspberry, plum, blackberry, and strawberry. And then you will get these savory notes of spices, leather, smoke, tobacco, and dried herbs.
In terms of tannins, they can range from medium to high. But typically they will have higher levels of tannins, which will require them to be aged for a longer period before they can be enjoyed. And the best vintages tend to be earthy and complex with a pleasing balance of tannins and acidity.
FOOD PAIRING: Game, casserole, bison burger, grilled meats, osso buco, lamb chops, duck, mushrooms
Chateauneuf du Pape Fun Facts
- 1st classified appellation in France’s AOC system
- Famous for Grenache-based blends. Grenache imparts a richness and juiciness to the wine
- Decant wines for at least an hour before consuming/serving. Serve at ~60 F (~15-16C).
- Typically can age 5-10 years depending on vintage. For premium vintage and producer CdP you can age up to 20 years.
- White grapes are under 10% of the region’s vineyards
Chateauneuf du Pape Vintage Chart
7 Best Chateauneuf du Pape Under $100
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1) Chateau de Beaucastel
One of the most coveted and esteemed wines in the world.
The wine opens up fresh with bright red fruits on the nose, then a palate with velvety tannins, appealing acidity and notes of black and red fruits, pepper, and spice.
It’s complex and richly textured on the palate, with a long and smooth finish.
2) Ogier Clos de l'Oratoire des Papes
A blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsault from a single vineyard. And the nose is intense with aromas of ripe red fruits, pepper, and spice.
And the palate is fresh and balanced with notes of red fruits of cherry and raspberry that lead to a finish with smooth and fine tannins.
3) Domaine du Vieux Télégraph
A classic red Châteauneuf-du-Pape with aromas of dark fruits along with leather and earthy notes.
On the palate this wine is rich and complex with a velvety texture and notes of plum, cherry, spices, tobacco, and leather leading to a long finish with well integrated tannins.
4) Domaine du Vieux Lazaret
A well priced Chateauneuf du Pape by one of the largest vineyards in the region. This has a warm nose with complex red fruits, leather, and spice.
And on the palate, it is rich and complex with a classic balanced structure and flavors of red cherry, blackberry, plum, leather, and spice. Just a fantastic elegant CdP for a great price!
5) Pegau Cuvée Réservée
Another classic CdP Grenache based blend with ripe blackberries, raspberries, leather, and pepper on the nose.
On the palate it has round and soft tannins that become complex earthy and dark flavors of plum, raspberries, cherries, spice, and leather.
6) Clos des Papes
Another one of the most sought after wines, for good reason! This Southern Rhône estate has been an established winery gaining a strong reputation from wine critics and wine lovers.
The winemaker, studied his craft in Burgundy and trained at Château Mouton-Rothschild in Bordeaux before returning to the Rhône and his family domaine.
7) M. Chapoutier
Well-known and popular winery from the region, you will find a very high quality wine with a medium to full body.
The wine has everything you want in a CdP – medium acidity, well integrated tannins, and a long finish. The flavors of the wine are dark fruits and earthy notes of minerals and coffee.
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