Chateauneuf du Pape: Un Bijou Obscur
Tuesday November 21, 2017
With an appellation that produces only a mere 7% white wine out of the total wine production, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc is so rare that it is almost a sin if you have a cellar full of these great wines. The white wines from the appellation of Châteauneuf-du-Pape [BUY NOW] are considered rare that most people would associate this place in southern Rhône Valley to only red wines.
Without the long cellaring period, these white wines are already stunning. The grapes blended to make this blanc wine may include Bourboulenc, Clairette Rose, Clairette Blanc, Picardin, Picpoul Gris, and Picpoul Blanc. Although higher amount of Grenache Blanc or Roussanne may be used.
With the steady increase of interest for this unique white wine both from those outside the region, this is a great wine one should start investing on. It is said that these wines are definitely worth getting your hands on and a must for any vino lover. Aside from its limited production count, these wines are utterly impressive because of its consistent quality: rich, delectable, with sunshine-like brightness and ages beautifully. Its characteristic makes it a perfect partner for any kind of fish and white meat.
The transformation of these famed white wines are nothing short of extraordinary. Truly delicious upon opening, you can almost taste the terroir of southern Rhône: mistral wind kisses our skin, while the sun bathes us golden and the rather warm night slowly embraces us. Then the wines undergo some sort of magical transition after a few years. A treat for those with the patience to wait a few more years, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc changes to a wine with more depth and phenolic full-bodied taste; and evidence of a more delicate character, with finesse and complexity all in one bottle.
The Starting Place
While the white wine is already impressive, it is more refreshing to know that there is more to discuss about the whole appellation of Châteauneuf-du-Pape (and its perennial fame). But for the sake of the number of wine bottle present and brevity (but really, we know this is because of the wine bottles) allow us to share something about where these famed white wines came from.
Located in Rhône Valley, and divided into a two: residence and vineyard, it is one of the first appellation d’origine controlée (AOC) in France. Becoming an AOC means winemakers should follow stringent measures in creating wines. The scenic area of Châteauneuf-du-Pape is filled with historical significance and a rich terroir. With its different soil types like gravel, limestone, sand, and pebbles (or locally known as galets); plus, a Mediterranean climate, mistral winds, and Provençal atmosphere, expect a range of high-class distinct wines. Going back to the soil, galets have the ability to trap in heat mid-day and eventually releasing the heat during night time, offering a unique ripening process to the grapes.
The word Châteauneuf-du-Pape name literally means “new castle of the Pope”. It was named as such when the papacy decided to leave Rome and move to Avignon in 1309. With papal cross designed on the bottles and the reference that popes really loved the wines from this area, it may seem to point that these wines became famous because of its affinity to religion. However, it is best to look at it as a result of combining nature’s gift, the fact that 13 varieties of grapes can be blended, plus the dedication of the winemakers into improving their wines.
One fine example is Domaine Pierre Usseglio & Fils [BUY NOW]. Known as one of the best Châteauneuf-du-Pape producers, the winery is currently managed by Pierre Usseglio’s sons. Their wines are prime example as to why many came to love the Châteauneuf-du-Pape. With quality vines, persistent hard work, and fusion of modern techniques with family traditions results to intense taste, richer flavour, complex characteristics, and refined styles.
Here are some of their wines for your drinking pleasure:
“An excellent wine in the vintage, the 2014 Châteauneuf du Pape has more Grenache than the 2013 and checks in as 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah and 5% each of Cinsault and Mourvèdre. Aged in equal parts concrete tank and old oak, its vibrant ruby color is followed by perfumed notes of incense, dried flowers, pepper and black raspberry. Like the 2013, it has terrific sweetness of tannin, a full, layered mid-palate and a great finish. It will have a decade of longevity.Both the 2013s and 2014 from the Usseglio brothers are solid, and they have more texture and charm than most in the vintage.”
“A pretty, elegant and medium-bodied effort, the 2012 Châteauneuf du Pape (80% Grenache, 10% Syrah and the balance Mourvedre and Cinsault) offers plenty of black raspberry, toasted spice, licorice and hints of garrigue. A sweetly fruited, rounded and beautifully textured 2012, it has an upfront feel that allows it to drink nicely now, but it will have 10-12 years of longevity based on its balance.”
“Similar in style to the 2006, the 2012 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee de Mon Aieul is rounded and textured, with tons of charm in its blackberry, black raspberry, violets, garrigue and spice aromas and flavors. Full-bodied, supple and textured, it shows the vintage's upfront and forward character, yet has beautiful purity of fruit and enough density to drink nicely through 2027. Most 2012s are already showing nicely, and this is no exception.”
“The 2010 Chateauneuf du Pape Reserve des Deux Freres is composed of 90% Grenache and 10% Syrah, and came in at 15.5% alcohol. In most vintages, this is basically the same cuvee as the Mon Aieul but with more press wine and the use of small new oak casks for aging the Syrah component. Approximately 30% stems were used in the fermentation. The 2010 is closed and nearly inaccessible at present. Full-bodied and massive with an inky/purple color, it reveals notes of smoked meats, blackberries, blueberries, flowers and subtle toast in the background. An enormous unctuosity and viscosity give the wine a palate gripping mouthfeel as the tannins are coated with glycerin. This brilliant wine needs at least 5-7 years of cellaring, and should keep for three decades thereafter.”
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