Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc Vieilles Vignes
In addition to being central to papal history, Châteauneuf du Pape is credited with establishing the precursor to the modern French appellation contrôlée system. In 1923 a series of controls for improving the quality and image of Châteauneuf du Pape were developed that ultimately became the basis for the modern system that has since been copied in Italy, Spain and Germany.
In addition to a rich history Châteauneuf
du Pape is unique with its distinctive and extensive selection of grapes
that were adopted by the appellation in 1936. For red wines the allowed
varietals are: Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Cinsault, Vaccarèse,
Counoise, Muscardin, Terret Noir, and Picpoul Noir. For white wine the
allowed varietals are: Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Bourboulenc, Roussanne,
Picopoul and Picardin. While this totals 15, the appellation is known
for it's 13 varietals, which are totaled, by only counting Grenache and
Picopoul only once.
Wine Éric's Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc is predominantly a blend of Clairette and Bourboulenc but when needed also includes Grenache Blanc. The Clairette provides finesse and complexity, the Bourboulenc imparts acidity and structure, and in some years Grenache Blanc is included to amplify aromas and add richness and concentration. Each varietal is individually barrel fermented and only blended after malolactic fermentation is completed.
These are medium to full-bodied wines of a golden hue with aromas of mineral, grass and hints of honey and sweet fruit. A round and fleshy white wine with a long finish that can especially be enjoyed with shellfish and grilled oysters but is best enjoyed in its youth, up to 5 years old.
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.
2001 began with a mild winter that was followed by a warm and wet spring with above average temperatures. Flowering started towards the beginning of May and June and July continued to be warm with heavy rainfall in July. August was hot and dry with temperatures reaching 33°C resulting in the grapes reaching a good maturity. September brought le mistral, which continued for nearly 2 weeks. Harvest commenced in early September but there was no Grenache Blanc as it was too alcoholic.
© 2003 Éric Texier