One of the most famous names in the wine world, this small village is renowned for the mainly red Rhône wines that are made here from a large variety of grapes. Lying 12 kilometers east of Avignon, which was the Papal seat, Chateauneuf became the Popes summer residence and naturally its wine, “the wine of Popes”. The castle was built at the beginning of the 14th century and the Popes played an active role in the quality of the wine. Fast-forward almost 800 years and the Papal legacy live on in the famous bottle with the embossed logo of the papal tiara above the crossed keys of St. Peter which is used for all wines from the appellation.
Chateauneuf-du-Pape is located in the region of the Vaucluse in the southern Rhone. During the Tertiary period, 60 million years ago, the Rhone valley was flooded. This was followed by the melting of the Alpine glaciers that created soils full of layers of rocks, pebbles and quartzite. Although there are a great variety of soils in the region, it is the large, washed pebbles that are the region’s most distinctive feature.
Chateauneuf is famous for allowing 13 different grape varieties in its blend - Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Clairette, Vaccarèse, Bourboulenc, Roussanne, Counoise, Muscardin, Picpoul, Picardan and Terret Noir. Joseph Ducos, former owner of Chateau La Nerthe, led much of the work of replanting the vineyards with these varieties after phylloxera and the estate still uses a large variety of old vines today although the predominant grape variety is Grenache with smaller amounts of Syrah and Mourvèdre.
There are 320 producers in the appellation who cultivate 3160 hectares of vines, accounting for 14 million bottles of wine, 95% being red. The red wines are rich, earthy wines with gamey flavours matched with oak aromas. They can be quite tannic when young but age well to reveal layers of different flavours and elegance. The white wines tend to be full-bodied and rich with ripe fruit flavours mixed with fennel, almond and anise. The wines match well with country dishes such as stews, game casseroles, white meat in white sauces and aromatic cheeses.