Châteauneuf-du-Pape, in the southern Rhône, comes from the French for ‘the Pope’s residence’ and refers to a time period between 1309 and 1378 when the seat of the Papacy was based in Avignon.
Although legendary for allowing the use of up to 18 specified grape varieties, most of the red Châteauneuf is Grenache based which gives the wine a deep colour, full structure, red and black fruit flavours, a plush texture and a generous high alcohol content.
Chateauneuf du Pape is France’s first designated appellation. This is a sunny warm region with a rugged landscape – the soil is covered in big rocks, bigger than gravel but smaller than boulders, known locally as galet. This is critical in controling moisture evaporation from the soil. In addition, the rocks suck up the heat during the day and send it back to the vines after the sundown, helping the ripening process and imparting them with the soft and lush richness the wine is renowned for.
If i go back to my early days of my wine career, my introduction to Chateauneuf du Pape was with La Fiole du Pape and Chateau de la Gardine. At the moment, I thougt that they were great bottles but with time i discovered other producers that were able to make speak more the terroir of Chateauneuf du Pape: Domaine du Vieux Lazaret, Clos de Papes,Domaine de Nalys, and Château de Beaucastel. I have never tried a Chateau Rayas, they say is a mind blowing experience but also comes with a hefty price.
During my latest wine trip to the Rhone Valley for the Rhone wine fair, I had a chance to hook up with two of my favorite producers: Chateau Mont Redon and Domaine du Pegau.
I was quite lucky, since I was able to taste several vintages of both domaines back in the fair, which allowed me to get a character of both domaines.
Château Mont-Redon is very familiar for those who are cognoscenti of the appellation and love Châteauneuf-du-Pape. They are the owners of some of the best sites in the appellation. Domaine Pegau has a long pedigree in the area as well. The name Pegau (coming from a Provencal word for a wine jug found in the excavations of the 14th century in the Popes Palace in Avignon) was created in 1987, when Laurence Feraud after her wine studies went home to help her father Paul Feraud at the domain. The property is widely regarded as one of the leading producers in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The property consist of eleven separate vineyard parcels scattered throughout the Courthézon,La Solitude and Bédarrides sector of the appellation.
Mont Redon Mini Vertical
Piquillo pepper, red currants with chinese five spice, landing on a licorice and earth cloud. Fresh, digest and balanced with fine and firm tannins. Proyected maturity 10+
More expressive than the 14, this vintage display leafy fieldberries with elegant nuances of rosemary and wild thyme. On the palate, it has a beautiful finesse, almost manicured with round and silky tannins. Proyected maturity 15+
At 10 years, this Redon starts to enter the tertiary stage. Noble nuances of Porcini and Pied du Mort mushrooms. Mint and Lavender as well. On the mouth, despite the double digit age, the wine keeps a fresh poise maintaining the elegant and subtle character with precise tannins. Proyected maturity 5-10 years.
A completely different wine than the 2007. This redon displays more evolved notes of brush undergrowth. Entincing notes of black truffle appears with mahogany wood and macerated herbs. On the mouth, it has more amplitude and it is heftier. Still quite an art beauty. Proyected maturity 5-10 years.
Roasted blackberries with strawberry jam. On the mouth, Powerful, austere and quite structured. Ample flavours of cherry in brandy, plums and blackberry fruit. The finale brings to mind dry sage and tobacco . Long lingering finish. Proyected maturity 10+ years
Un vino bellisimo in this vintage. Charged with dark, spicy red fruits and earthy, misterious animal nuances. On the mouth, a open style quite foward wine that you can enjoy drinking now but will keep as well. Proyected maturity 10-15 years
On the nose, this Pegau display jam packed notes of crushed peppercorns, black raspberries, garrigue and kirsch. On the palate, the wine is full bodied, rich and lush, with sweet tannins that complement the plush texture. Long and lingering finale. Proyected maturity 15+
Chateauneuf du Pape tasting back home.
Just before my trip to the Rhone, I had a chance to meet Isabelle Ogier, general manager of Domaine de Nalys. Domaine de Nalys takes its name from the original founders of the estate who owned the property in the 1700’s. The domaine is located in the east of the Appellation, surrounded by vines at slight altitude with a splendid view of Mont Ventoux and the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Nalys took a direction in the realm of the French Revolution when it was confiscated from its aristrocratic owners and sold to a group of local families.
In the 1950s, the winery when through change again when a doctor, Philippe Dufays, took over the property and began investing and experimenting with new winemaking techniques while building export connections. Following the death of his son, he sold the winery, which is now owned by French insurance company Groupama.
Nalys Chateauneuf du Pape Classic Cuvee 2012
Complex nose. Tar, Hoisin sauce, dry black fruit and animal nuances such as dry blood and barnyard aromas. Structured, yet fresh despite the hefty tannins. Lovely tobacco leaf finale. With will be at its prime in a decade but will continue to age for another one
Nalys Chateauneuf du Pape Classic Cuvee 2013
Richer than the 12. Jammy black fruit, violets and licorice. Spicier with iron and brown earth nuances Elegant with fine grained tannins. Flavors of maraschino cherry and a very long finale. Will age wonderfully for a decade or two.
Nalys Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Chataigner 2013
Single vineyard wine from old vines situated on poor sandy-textured soils of marine origin and a small part from “La Crau” vineyard with rounded pebbles.The blend is composed of 85% Grenache noir and of 15% Mourvèdre.
Tapenade with balsamic notes, intense nuances of black fruits. Fine palate. Silky with fine cashmere tannis. Very fresh. Spices that bring to paprika, criollo cacao beans and cofee. Long and caressing in the mouth. A powerhouse with 30 decades of life ahead.
Nalys Chateauneuf du Pape La Reserve 2013
Intense and dark nose. Violets confit with Cofee, black cherry and cassis. Powerful. Spicy with expresso dark beans.Long and racy with lots of potential ahead .