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Châteauneuf du Pape Label
 
   

Châteauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes

In the early 14th century Pope Clément V would regularly travel from Avignon by mule to the small village of Châteauneuf to inspect his vineyard. Clément became Pope in 1309, during the severely strained relations between the King of France and the Roman Papacy. As a native Frenchman (from Bordeaux) he decided it would be better to remain in France and moved the Papacy to Avignon where it remained until 1378 (also known as the Great Schism).

Clement was already an accomplished vigneron, having planted his own vineyard in Bordeaux (in the Graves region) known as Château Pape-Clement. But while he did have a few vines near Avignon it was his successor, Pope John XXII who was responsible for the development of Châteauneuf du Pape as a world renown wine-producing region. It was also John XXII that built the papal summer residence (to escape the heat and bustle of Avignon) in the small village of Châteuneuf. Pope John used the 10 hectares that came with the Chateau but found he needed much more wine for his papal feasting in Avignon where one feast included 55 sheep, 690 chickens, 580 partridges, 270 rabbits, 8 pigs, 4 wild boar, 40 plovers, 37 ducks and 50 pigeons. As a result he contracted for an annual delivery of 1,550 liters from the village of Bédarrides, which is part of the Châteauneuf du Pape appellation today.

-Grenache and Mourvèdre blend
-Harvest is usually mid September for Grenache, early October for Mourvèdre
-A.O.C established 15 May 1936 & today 3,140 HA in production
-Vines are on average 50 years old
-Some Grenache vines are over 70 years old
-Grenache Vineyard soil is composed of red clay with galets roulés

Vintage Notes

 

Wine Éric's Châteauneuf du Pape is a dark purple-black color with intense aromas of new saddle leather, sweet dark fruit, earth and peppered with provincial herbs. This is a big and bold wine with ripe, well-structured tannins that are nicely balanced by the crisp acidity. This is a wine that benefits from decanting, goes very well with beef and strong cheeses and will age well between 3 and 30 years.

 
Historic Picking Buckets in the cellar.

 
Vineyards Two vineyards are used to produce Éric's Châteauneuf du Pape. The Grenache comes from La Crau, a north facing vineyard in the northeastern part of the appellation, towards Courthézon. Many of the Grenache vines are over 70 years old and because of the northern exposure the tannins reach phenol ripeness without an overwhelmingly high alcohol level. The Mourvèdre comes from a vineyard on the southern edge of the appellation and provides crisp acidity to the blend. All of the vines are gobelet trained (head pruned) which keeps the fruit low and protected from the gusts of le mistral. Both the old Grenache vines and the Mourvèdre go through malolactic fermentation in 1 year old barrels.

Terroir  Located 16 kilometers from Avignon, Châteauneuf du Pape is a relatively flat appellation that includes vineyards above the Rhône in the village of Châteauneuf du Pape as well as the neighboring villages of Bédarrides, Courthézon, Orange and Sorgues. The terroir is known for it's galets roulés - the rust and cream colored, smooth, rounded stones ranging in size from a large tomato to a football. The galets roulés are deposits left behind when the Alpine glaciers that once covered the region retreated.

The appellation sits square in the middle of le mistral's well traveled path from the Alps to the Mediterranean Sea which blows on average 145 days a year with speeds of up to 80 kph (50 mph). As a result the vines are naturally kept free of pests and rot. The galets roulés retain the hot summer sunshine keeping the vines warm well into the night, with produces riper grapes than many other areas of the Rhône Valley.

 

Châteauneuf du Pape 2000

The conditions for the 2000 vintage in the Southern Rhône Valley were nearly perfect. It was not too hot. It was not too cold. And there was almost no water. Roughly 50 ml of rain fell two weeks before harvest. But then the sun shined and le mistral blew for 2 weeks and the grapes were perfect. The Grenache was harvested the 3rd week of September and the Mourvèdre the 1st week of October.

The 2000 looks very promising with a well-balanced and full body, round and ripe tannins and dark, sweet fruit flavors. Perfectly balanced with a long life head, you can easily expect this wine to age well for 5 to 30 years.

 

Blend: 75% Grenache, 25% Mourvèdre
Alcohol: 13.5% by volume

 

Suggested Aging: 5 to 30 or more years
Cases Produced: 2,650

 

 

© 2003 Éric Texier