Are you wondering what’s behind the awe-inspiring quality of Chateauneuf du Pape wine? What are the most desirable bottles to buy?
It’s all in the community’s rich winemaking heritage and the incredible skill of the winemakers. It’s not surprising that Chateauneuf du Pape finds a location in some of the most desirable wine collections across the world!
If you’re looking to include one in your collection, you’ve come to the right spot.
In this article, we go through the history of the appellation and examine what makes these wines unique in taste and character.
What Is Chateauneuf du Pape?
Châteauneuf du Pape is a French wine appellation that lies south of the Rhone Valley and is known for its fruity, elegant red wines. The AOC covers a few surrounding villages between Avignon and Orange – Bédarrides, Courthézon, and Sorgues.
Chateauneuf Castle is located in France. Chateauneuf castle is situated on a hill that has the Rhone River to the west and Mont Ventoux to its east.
The main grape varieties in the Chateauneuf du Pape AOC are Grenache Syrah and Mourvedre. In addition, the commune also produces wine that is made with ten other types of grapes.
A Brief History of Chateauneuf du Pape
The town’s viticultural history dates back to the 12th century, with the local bishops tending to vineyards. But it took off when the 14th-century Avignon Pope, Clement V, relocated the papacy there.
Popes following Clement V took great care to enhance Chateauneuf’s wine production. Pope John XXII also constructed a castle in 1333, which is still the symbol of Chateauneuf until today. Chateauneuf du Pape is a French word meaning “the Pope’s New Castle.’
After having survived the phylloxera vine pandemic in late in the 19th century, Chateauneuf du Pape was the first winery to receive an AOC designation by French authorities in 1936.
Chateauneuf du Pape Climate And Terroir
Châteauneuf du Pape, like most of southern France, has a Mediterranean climate. Southern Rhone experiences hot and dry summers (with temperatures up to 38°C) and wet winters.
The region’s distinctive dryness is due to the strong mistral winds which drain from the atmosphere of moist air. These powerful dry winds blow in out of the north at speeds of nearly 100 km/h. They also prevent overly heavy rains as well as fungal destruction to vines.
The AOC’s unique terroir is part of Châteauneuf du Pape’s identity.
You’ll see the village with three soil types, as well as the common galets Roules (rolled pebbles.) These tiny rocks or pebbles are remnants of glacial activity in the area that were smoothed out over time by the Rhone flowing river.
Galets soak in sunlight throughout the day, releasing the warmth into the wine at night and ridding the soil of any excess water. Prolonged exposure to ground that is rich in galettes aids in maturing the grapes.
Read more about: Do you plan to host an intimate wine tasting or a grand dinner? Be sure to select the appropriate bottle of wine for the event.
Chateauneuf du Pape Grape Varietals And Wine Styles
Chateauneuf is mostly known for its red wine. The village also produces small quantities of white wine and has recently begun making Rose wine.
The initial AOC regulations allowed for 13 different grapes to be planted, which was later increased to 18 varieties in 2009.
How Does Chateauneuf du Pape Wine Taste?
Every Chateauneuf evolves into its own over time. But they all share a few common characteristics in their flavor profile.
Generally speaking, it is classified as red Chateauneuf du Pape, which can be packed with red fruits (strawberry and cherry), Earthy flavors (leather and tar), spices, and even herbs. The combination of earthy and herb notes is referred to in the term “garrigue” in French.
These red wines tend to be a bit high in acidity and can be quite tingling on the palate.
From 2007 onward, winemakers have attempted to lower the intense tannic flavor that used to be the hallmark of the AOC. Instead, red wines are now able to provide an enhanced expression of fresh fruits wrapped in rusticity.
The wine is best enjoyed with a mix of spiced red meats. Its versatility lets it go well with a variety of cheeses and fish dishes, too.
Are you addicted to sweets? Explore our comprehensive guides on sweet wine and sweet white wine.
Serving Chateauneuf du Pape Wine
This Rhone wine is best served chilled, below room temperature, at 16-18ºC (60-65ºF). Decant it for about an hour. Mature wines and young white wines will not require any decanting.
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Investing In Chateauneuf du Pape Wines
This southern Rhone village is the heartland of robust, age-worthy wines. Most Chateauneuf rouges are expected to last at least a decade, and some even up to 30 years. Any vintage made after 2010 would be perfect for cellaring now.
However, here’s the surprise. It’s equally beautiful when it’s in its earliest years. That’s why a lot of wine enthusiasts prefer drinking Chateauneuf reds when they are young.
The winemaker Beaucastel interviewed buyers who purchased the 2010 wine (one which promised to last for years). About 80% of them had consumed it within the first two years!
With fewer older Chateauneufs on the market for secondhand, their prices continue to go upward. Even the newest (promising) Chateauneufs rise in value swiftly. For instance, Vieux Telegraphe’s comparatively young 2008 has appreciated almost 35% since the time of its release, while Beaucastel’s ’04 increased by 23%.
They also do very well in auctions. In 2018, a bottle of Hermitage Cuvee Cathelin 2009 by Jean-Louis Chave sold for $15,500! It puts Chateauneuf on par with the top wines of Bordeaux as well as Burgundy.
Additional Reading: Whether you’re a seasoned collector or a novice, it’s impossible to go wrong with these exquisite red wines and the all-time classic white wines.
In the present, Chateauneuf winemakers regularly feature on the top trade-in wine lists. If you’re jotting down notes, here are several excellent suggestions to add to your cellar this year.
Best Chateauneuf du Papes To Buy In 2023
Fill your cellar with these jewels from Chateauneuf.
2010 Domaine du Pegau Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Inspiration
The Pegau family first planted vines next to olive trees on their land back in the 17th century. Their name is now synonymous with ChaChateaneuf’s glorious past.
Pegau 2010 Pegau is the result of an incredible vintage with a plethora of vibrant, lush red fruit and some hints of spice. Take it home now to look forward to the full maturation of this wine in the next ten years.
2011 Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf-du-Pape Reserve
Unlike the other prime estates of Chateauneuf, the Rayas property is not covered in galettes. They’re known for their red wines made entirely with the Grenache grape variety.
2011 was not the best year for the southern Rhone. However, RayRayas’enache came out with a bang. It has a remarkable intensity and depth, with spiced flavors as well as tangy fruits. It should be kept in the cellar for at least ten years. This is the promise that its high cost makes.