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The Rich History of Châteauneuf-du-Pape highlighting some great value wines

CorkRules | May 05, 2024

Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a name that resonates with prestige and quality in the world of wine. This illustrious appellation is steeped in history dating back centuries and has been producing some of France's most celebrated wines for generations.

Nestled within the southern region of Rhône Valley, France lies Châteauneuf-du-Pape - translated as "the Pope's new castle". The area earned its moniker during the 14th century when it served as a summer residence for Popes who sought refuge from political turmoil in Rome.

The terroir here is unique; large pebbles known locally as 'galets' cover much of vineyards absorbing heat during daytime and releasing it at night which aids grape ripening process. Additionally, Mistral winds blow away any cloud cover ensuring ample sunshine throughout growing season.

Unlike other regions where one or two varieties dominate, up to thirteen different types are permitted under AOC regulations but Grenache Noir typically forms backbone due to its ability withstand harsh conditions while still delivering high-quality fruit. Other key varietals include Syrah offering structure and spice notes; Mourvèdre contributing tannins and dark fruit flavors; Cinsault providing softness along with floral aromas.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape reds are renowned for their robust character and complex flavor profiles. Expect a symphony of ripe black fruit flavors like cherry and plum, intermingled with earthy undertones, hints of spice such as white pepper or clove, often accompanied by herbal notes reminiscent garrigue (wild herbs native to region).

These wines have impressive aging potential; while they can be enjoyed young when fruit characteristics are more pronounced, over time they develop secondary aromas including leather or truffle which add complexity. A well-aged Châteauneuf-du-Pape is truly an unforgettable experience.

Given its full-bodied nature and rich flavors profile it pairs wonderfully with hearty dishes - think roasted meats (lamb in particular), game birds or beef stews. For vegetarians mushroom-based dishes work beautifully too due the wine's earthy elements.

The history of Châteauneuf-du-Pape is not just about popes and castles but also about generations winemakers who've worked tirelessly to create some world’s most respected wines under challenging conditions. It's a testament to human ingenuity coupled with respect for nature resulting into liquid poetry that continues enchant connoisseurs worldwide.

Here are three staff favorites:

Chateau Beaucastel - Coudoulet de Beaucastel Cotes du Rhone 2020:

Chateau Beaucastel is a prestigious winery located in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, in the southern Rhône Valley of France. The estate has been owned by the Perrin family since 1909, and today is managed by the fifth generation of Perrins. The winemaker, Marc Perrin, follows a traditional approach to winemaking, emphasizing organic farming and minimal intervention in the cellar.

The Coudoulet de Beaucastel Cotes du Rhone 2020 is an affordable yet high-quality wine from this esteemed producer. This vintage displays a vibrant ruby color with purple hues. On the nose, it presents an intense bouquet of red and black fruits such as cherries and blackberries, along with spicy notes of pepper and licorice.

The structure is well-balanced with fine tannins that give way to a medium-to-full body. The palate echoes the nose with its fruity flavors complemented by earthy undertones and hints of garrigue - characteristic for wines from this region.

This wine has received praise from critics like Robert Parker's Wine Advocate which awarded it 91 points out of 100 in their review. No significant awards have been noted for this specific vintage yet but Chateau Beaucastel has a long history of accolades attesting to its consistent quality over time.

Domaine La Consonniere - Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2019:

Domaine La Consonniere is situated in the heartland of Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation in Southern Rhône Valley. It's owned by Bernard Coste who also serves as its dedicated winemaker following family traditions rooted back to early last century when his ancestors first established vineyards here.

The Domaine La Consonniere Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2019 boasts an intense garnet color that gives away its concentration even before you take your first sip. The nose reveals rich aromas of ripe red fruits like raspberries and strawberries combined with warm spices such as cinnamon and cloves.

Its structure exhibits good acidity and firm tannins, resulting in a full-bodied wine. The palate mirrors the nose with an addition of complex notes of leather and tobacco that provide depth to this layered wine.

Olivier Hillaire - Chateauneuf du Pape Classique 2011:

Olivier Hillaire is a small-scale winemaker based in Châteauneuf-du-Pape who started his own domaine in 2006 after selling his share from the family estate, Domaine des Relagnes. His meticulous attention to detail both in vineyard management and winemaking has quickly earned him recognition among Rhône enthusiasts.

The Olivier Hillaire Chateauneuf du Pape Classique 2011 displays a deep ruby color with slight brick tones indicating its age. The nose opens up with opulent aromas of blackcurrant, plum jam intermingled with hints of truffle, smoke, and sweet spices.

Its structure is characterized by matured tannins that have softened over time leading to a full-bodied yet velvety texture on the palate. The taste reveals more dark fruit flavors combined with savory notes such as mushroom and cured meat adding complexity to this well-aged wine.

This particular vintage was highly praised by critics scoring an impressive 94 points from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate while also being awarded Silver at the Decanter World Wine Awards.


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