What Type of Wine is Châteauneuf-du-Pape?
Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a French wine appellation known for its bold Grenache-based red blends. Officially, the region makes both red and white wines with up to 13 different grapes. (Unofficially, there are 20 varieties used in the region!). A great bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge bursts with rich raspberry and plummy fruit flavors. As it evolves, you’ll taste notes of dusted leather, game, and herbs. The Francophiles – and the actual French – call this herbal play “garrigue,” after the region’s scrubland of sage, rosemary, and lavender. As if that wasn’t enough, CdP Rouge often finishes on a sweet-strawberry tingle that glows in the back of your throat from elevated alcohol. The finish ranges from sweet to savory, depending on the vintage.
What About the Blanc?
Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc is harder to find because only about 7% of the region’s vineyards are white grapes. Still, you’ll find many producers make small amounts that are usually a blend of the region’s white grapes, most notably, Grenache Blanc, Clairette, and Roussanne.
Where is This Place?
Châteauneuf-du-Pape sits towards the bottom of the Rhône Valley, close to the border of Provence. The name 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 region has written records of vineyards dating back to 11–, but winemaking has been here longer than that!
Châteauneuf-du-Pape is one of 19 official crus or “growths” of the Côtes du Rhône wine region. If you didn’t already know, these 19 crus represent Côtes du Rhône’s top wine-growing zones.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape is considered –by most– to be the benchmark of the Southern Rhône.
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 expert, the region is a complex myriad of soils, subtle slopes, and micro-terroirs that define the appellation’s best wines.
Soils: There are three main soils found in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, including galets roulés (rounded stones over sandy, iron-rich red clay), safres (sand-dominant soils), and eclats calcaires (more chalky-colored, limestone rich clays). More robust wines with higher tannin tend to come from the clay-based soils. More aromatic and elegant wines tend to grow on the soils with a higher prevalence of sand.
Sunshine: Châteauneuf-du-Pape receives an average of 2,800 hours of sun per growing season, making it one of the sunniest of France. (This is as sunny as Los Angeles!).
La Crau Plateau: One notable feature in the region is the La Crau Plateau. This raised area is home to some of the region’s most famous Châteaux and it is marked by round stones over iron-rich red clays left during the Villafranchian Age (in between the Ice Age and Pliocene Epoch – around 1–3 million years ago).
Borrowed from the winefolly.com website