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All You Ever Wanted to Know About Châteauneuf-du-Pape Wine (And More)

If there’s French wine that everybody deserves to taste, it’s in all probability Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It’s like the gateway drug to French wine.

Pronunciation shat-toe-nouf due pap

What Sort of Wine is Châteauneuf-du-Pape?

Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a French wine appellation recognized for its daring Grenache-based purple blends. Formally, the area makes each purple and white wines with up to 13 totally different grapes. (Unofficially, there are 20 varieties used within the area!).

Let’s dig into the small print of this historic wine and find out why Châteauneuf-du-Pape is the Southern Rhône’s most exclusive appellation.

Tasting Châteauneuf-du-Pape

An excellent bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge bursts with wealthy raspberry and plummy fruit flavors. As it evolves, you’ll style notes of dusted leather, recreation, and herbs. The Francophiles – and the actual French – call this natural play “garrigue,” after the area’s scrubland of sage, rosemary, and lavender.

As if that wasn’t enough, CdP Rouge typically finishes on a sweet-strawberry tingle that glows behind your throat from elevated alcohol. The end ranges from sweet to savory, depending on the classic.

Serving Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge

Serving: Decant wines for about one hour, and less for older wines. Serve cool, under room temperature to sluggish evaporating alcohol at around 60–65 ºF / 16–18 ºC.

Growing older: Purple wines sometimes age 10–20 years, depending on producer, vintage, and elegance. White wines age up to about 10 years.

Food Pairing: Do this wine with roasted and spiced vegetable-driven dishes like Morrocan hen tagine with olives, lamb dolma (Turkish lamb-stuffed peppers), or smoky cauliflower steaks.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape Classic Chart
  • 2011 Distinctive, high yield classic. Concentrated, dense, fruity wines.
  • 2012 Good. Common yields and late season rains prompted some more bitter tannins. Nonetheless, increased acid levels recommend age-ability.
  • 2013 Okay. Decreased yields from cooler temperatures throughout the season. Search for high quality producers; these will age.
  • 2014 Okay. This was a difficult vintage that required numerous work within the vineyards. Search for quality producers; these should age.
  • 2015 Good. This was a bombastic fruity classic. Much less natural and bitter tannins general. Great consuming wines.
  • 2016 Distinctive. Glad grapes, good wines.
  • 2017 Good. Smallest vintage in 40 years (only 9.6 million bottles). Extremely troublesome harvest due to drought.
  • 2018 Good. A wet, cooler yr.

What About the Blanc?

Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc is more durable to find as a result of only about 7% of the region’s vineyards are white grapes. Nonetheless, you’ll discover many producers make small quantities which are often a mix of the area’s white grapes, most notably, Grenache Blanc, Clairette, and Roussanne.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape is situated in the Southern Rhône Valley subsequent to Avignon. Map by Wine Folly

The place is This Place?

Châteauneuf-du-Pape sits in the direction of the underside of the Rhône Valley, close to the border of Provence. The identify means “pope’s new castle,” and refers to a time when the seat of the Roman Catholic Church was in Avignon (between 1309–1377). The area has written data of vineyards courting back to 11–, however winemaking has been here longer than that!

Châteauneuf-du-Pape is one among 19 official crus or “growths” of the Côtes du Rhône wine area. For those who didn’t already know, these 19 crus characterize Côtes du Rhône’s prime wine-growing zones.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape is considered –by most– to be the benchmark of the Southern Rhône.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape Wine Information
  • Châteauneuf-du-Pape was the very first French wine appellation; created in 1936.
  • There are 320 wine growers in Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s syndicate of vignerons.
  • There are 7,746 acres of vineyards (3134 hectares) in the area, which produce a mean 14 million bottles annually.
  • Almost 75% of the vineyards are dedicated to Grenache (aka Garnacha).
  • Virtually 30% of the wineries are organically certified by the EU.
  • Châteauneuf-du-Pape is made up of five communes: Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Courhézon, Orange, Bédarrides, and Sorgues (ordered from largest to smallest).

Going There?

Vinadea Maison des Vins de Châteauneuf-du-Pape

In the event you get the prospect to visit Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the fastest method to see a lot of the region’s wines is through the appellation’s wine shop, Vinadea.

Whereas it’s not a free-for-all tasting shop, there are often tastings obtainable. The employees is extremely educated relating to the area and might help you propose your winery stops or ship wines back residence for you.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape Wineries to Know

With over 200 to choose from, you possibly can guess there are numerous great wines to discover from Châteauneuf-du-Pape. That being stated, right here’s a snapshot of 9 top-rated estates and their tales.

Château La Nerthe

This is likely one of the older wineries in Châteauneuf-du-Pape with data that date back to 1570 and a vineyard inbuilt 1736. Though La Nerthe has had a rocky historical past, things modified in 1986 when it was bought to the Richard family and partnered with Burgundy negotiant duo, Tony David & Léon Foillard.

After the sale, quality improved tremendously and the property expanded its winery holdings to grow to be one of many largest in Châteauneuf-du-Pape with 550 acres (222 hectares) – organically farmed starting in 1998.

Château Fortia

After World Struggle I, fighter pilot Baron Le Roy returned to find his wife’s family winery fighting wine provenance issues. The issue plagued not simply Château Fortia, however all the Châteauneuf-du-Pape region.

So in 1923, Le Roy started work on a proposal (along with Joseph Capus) for a French wine appellation system which ultimately turned adopted into regulation in 1936. France’s appellation system (INAO) has served as a model for quality laws all through the world.

Château de Beaucastel

This property is owned by Famille Perrin and has a historical land-purchase report courting back to 1549. In 1980, Château de Beaucastel partnered with Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles to send cuttings of CdP vines to america. Tablas Creek went on to set up a nursery, sharing their vines with the remainder of america.

It was by means of this property’s generosity that we now have the distinctive Châteauneuf-du-Pape grape varieties spread all through the world.

Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe

A winery property that has managed to stay household owned (by the Brunier household) since 1898 – within the midst of the wine phylloxera epidemic. Vieux Télégraphe is positioned on an elevated plateau referred to as “Le Crau,” which is legendary for its deposits of huge rounded, river stones (aka “galets roulés”). To many, the vineyards on the La Crau plateau symbolize the highest wines from Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

The assemblage (wine blend) is usually 90% Grenache with a splash of Mourvèdre, that’s partially destemmed and aged in concrete tanks and enormous picket foudres. Wines are unfined and unfiltered and are recognized to age for 25 or extra years.

Château Rayas

This can be a single climat (vineyard space) of 32 acres (13 hectares) that was purchased by Albert Reynaud in 1880 and initially used as a polyculture farm of grapes, olives, and apricots. The vineyards barely survived the phylloxera epidemic and have been slowly revitalized by Albert’s son, Louis. Then in 1920, Château Rayas launched their first wine! Louis Reynaud was successful with wines and ultimately purchased two different estates, Château des Tours in Vacqueyras (in 1935) and Château Fonsalette (in 1945). He passed the property to his youngest son, Jacques.

Château Rayas has long been a darling of American wine critics, thanks to the work of the present proprietor, Emmanuel Reynaud (a nephew of Jacques). The flagship wine is often 100% Grenache and grows on sandy clay soils with no galets roulés (rounded stones). It is made in a standard style in concrete tanks and aged in previous 60 hectoliter foudres (that’s 1585 gallons – the dimensions of three giant scorching tubs!).

Ogier Clos de l’Oratoire des Papes

This internationally in style Châteauneuf-du-Pape estate just isn’t to be confused with Clos de l’Oratoire, a Merlot-based wine from Saint-Emilion! The winery was purchased in 2000 by an previous Châteauneuf-du-Pape negociant, Ogier, which is a component of a bigger wine group, Vignobles Jeanjean.

The brand new house owners preserved the unique 1926 label design and trusted their wine director, Didier Couturier, to enhance the wine. These 62 acres (25 hectares) of vineyards embrace all three of Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s soil varieties including galets roulés (rounded stones over sandy-clay), safres (sandy soils), and eclats calcaires (limestone-based clays). Ogier transformed to natural farming in 2006 and uses a horse-drawn plow.

Grapes for Clos de l’Oratoire des Papes are absolutely destemmed to improve lush flavors, and wines age in giant, used oak barrels. The blend is usually about 80% Grenache (from sandy soils – so extra aromatic) and blended with about 10% Syrah, 5% Mourvèdre, and 5% Cinsault.

Domaine du Pegau

The Féraud family has an extended history within the area as farmers since 1670. The primary property titles in Châteauneuf-du-Pape date again to 1733 and have been stated to be planted to cherries, olives, and grapes. Although the family produced grapes for generations, Domaine du Pegau didn’t exist till 1987, when Laurence Féraud approached her father about making a vineyard.

The identify “Pegau” comes from the vintage terracotta jars that have been as soon as used to retailer wine in the area. In Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Domaine du Pegau has 52 acres (21 hectares) of vineyards. (Forty-eight acres of pink grapes and three acres of white grapes).

The vineyard struggled and bought most of its early vintages to make ends meet. Then in 1992, Domaine du Pegau finally broke via after being ranked within the prime three for high quality in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

The rouge is often a mix of 80% Grenache, 6% Syrah, four% Mourvèdre, with the rest being a mix of the 13 regional grapes. Grapes are usually not destemmed and go into cement vats for a natural fermentation. Afterwards, wines are transferred into giant, previous oak barrels (perhaps 158 gallon / 600 liter demi-muids) where they age a further two years.

M. Chapoutier

Marius Chapoutier was the unique “M” of M. Chapoutier. Marius purchased a vineyard property in Tain l’Hermitage within the Northern Rhône Valley (Syrah country!) in 1808. The holdings of the Chapoutier’s continued to develop and now have property everywhere in the Rhône Valley.

Since Michel Chapoutier has taken over, estates have been transformed to biodynamic winegrowing they usually have eradicated fining and filtration.

There are seven Châteauneuf-du-Pape labels by M. Chapoutier, together with a 100% Grenache Blanc. Probably the most well-known are the 2 prime rouge wines referred to as “Barbe Rac” and a younger-vineyard wine, “Croix de Bois.” Both wines are 100% Grenache which are destemmed, fermented naturally, and held in vats for a minimum of three weeks (this polymerizes tannins). Then, the wines are aged for over a yr in oak barrels or concrete vats (respectively).

Clos Saint-Jean

This can be a family owned and operated estate with 99 acres (40 hectares) planted in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and 49 acres on the exceptional La Crau Plateau, where the vineyards are coated with galets roulés (spherical river stones) over iron-rich pink clay. This wine rose to fame with their label “Deus Ex Machina,” which garnered a 100 point rating from Robert Parker in 2005.

Grapes are virtually utterly destemmed and fermented in concrete vats. Grenache is aged more anaerobically in concrete, whereas the Syrah and Mourvèdre are aged in barriques and demi-muids (bigger 600 liter barrels). Wines are often lush with wealthy blackberry and blueberry notes.

A view over the La Crau Plateau in Châteauneuf-du-Pape over the vineyards of Clos St. Jean. Picture by Clos St. Jean

Terroir of Châteauneuf-du-Pape

From an outsider’s perspective, Châteauneuf-du-Pape is nothing more than a plateau and a few low, undulating hills that that slink into the Rhône River. But to the professional, the area is a posh myriad of soils, delicate slopes, and micro-terroirs that outline the appellation’s greatest wines.

  • Soils: There are three principal soils found in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, including galets roulés (rounded stones over sandy, iron-rich pink clay), safres (sand-dominant soils), and eclats calcaires (more chalky-colored, limestone rich clays). Extra strong wines with larger tannin tend to come from the clay-based soils. More aromatic and stylish wines tend to develop on the soils with a better prevalence of sand.
  • Sunshine: Châteauneuf-du-Pape receives a mean of two,800 hours of sun per growing season, making it one of many sunniest of France. (This is as sunny as Los Angeles!).
  • La Crau Plateau: One notable function in the area is the La Crau Plateau. This raised space is house to a few of the region’s most well-known Châteaux and it’s marked by round stones over iron-rich pink clays left in the course of the Villafranchian Age (in between the Ice Age and Pliocene Epoch – round 1–three million years ago).

Winemaking right here has advanced over several centuries and at this time makes use of a mixture of classical methods paired with trendy cleanliness. You’ll discover there are some stylistic differences between producers, which is achieved via winemaking methods.

Many vineyards in Châteauneuf-du-Pape are coated with stones (referred to as “galets”) that have been initially on the underside of an historic river. Photograph by Jean-Louis Zimmerman.

Dealing with Grenache in the Vineyard

Traditionally, Grenache bunches aren’t destemmed (they go into the fermenter entire). Leaving stems provides some bitterness, however it also will increase age-worthiness. You’ll discover that some producers do partial or full destemming, especially on robust vintages, to make a softer, fruitier wine. (Ensure to look for this in winemaking notes!).

Winemaking: Oak vs. No Oak?

The region has long used concrete vats to ferment wines and you’ll additionally see a variety of chrome steel vats. These instruments hold temperatures low because the fermentation heats up. A couple of producers opt for oak barrel fermenters, although this isn’t as widespread. Grenache could be very sensitive to oxidation, so using oak fermenters is more-than-likely used for other varieties.

Throughout elevage (“aging”) you’ll find that some producers use new oak, but this is typically for varieties aside from Grenache. Honestly, Grenache is capable of producing a stunning rich wine without the necessity for brand spanking new barrels. That being stated, you possibly can anticipate wines aged in new oak to have even more smoky-sweet, clove-like overtones and will typically embrace bolder varieties like Syrah and Mourvèdre.

Almost all purple wines go through malolactic fermentation whereas, most white wines do not.

Click on map for full-size model. Map created by Cyrille SUSS of