Rhone Valley

The complicated, sophisticated, chic, merveilleux French wine….

In case you haven’t noticed, this is the first French wine I’ve blogged about.  Truth be told, they scare me to death!  A good French wine aficionado talks about Bordeaux and Burgundy, Beaujolais and Chablis. Although that is not wrong, for someone who is choosing wines based on varietal (i.e. type of grape) it can be very confusing.  For me, it still is!

So before I get into the wine of the hour, let me just explain what I was referring to above:  Bordeaux, Burgundy, Beaujolais and Chablis, are actually regions of France.  And in these particular regions, only certain grapes can be grown.  For those of us that are looking for varietal (like myself), this information is important in my decision to buy.

I will be brief:

Bordeaux = Cabernet Sauvignon (also Merlot and Cabernet France, sometimes all three blended together.
Burgundy = Pinot Noir
Beaujolais = Gamay
Chablis = Chardonnay (Chablis is actually located within Burgundy)

And now, I’m going to mix it up a little bit more!  Chateauneuf-du-pape is actually in the Rhone Valley, which is known for two major grape varietals: Grenache and Syrah.   However, there can be up to 13 different grape varietals used in the making of Chateauneuf-du-pape!  The more expensive ones will have a greater percentage of the varietals mentioned above, whereas the cheaper versions will have more of the lesser known grapes. In my mind, this particular bottle is towards the higher end, as the percentages of the grapes used are as follows:  80% Grenache, 7% Syrah, 7% Mouvedre, 6% Cinsault.  I bought it at Costco, so I know I paid significantly less.

Chateuneuf-du-pape means “New castle of the Pope”. So named for the palace in the Rhone city of Avignon, in which Pope Clement V (first French pope) resided in the 14th century.  You might also notice that there is no vintage listed.  I was most curious about this, and according to my research, this particular bottle is a blend of the the best “cuvees” from different vintages -grapes harvested in different years.

Hopefully, I haven’t bored you with the trivia!  Onto the tasting notes!!

Garnet in colour, on the nose, I got some mushrooms and dried strawberries….which seems a bit opposing.  Mushrooms indicate more of an aged wine, yet strawberries indicate aromas of a younger wine.  My husband agreed.  This WAS a nice wine.  When we tasted, we got all kinds of things!  Mushrooms, spice, dried fruit, wood and venison.  It had nice acidity and the tannins didn’t knock you out.  Well rounded with a smooth finish.  We didn’t pair it with anything either, so we probably didn’t get the full benefit of this wine.

Bottom line:  French wines STILL intimidate me.  I am deep into learning about labeling, so choosing a wine that is right, for not only what I want to pair it with, but also within my budget, is extremely important…I want to get it right.

And just for fun….A friend of mine did a GREAT version of the pronunciation of this wine!  I cannot, however, attach it, so this is the next best thing. This is not HOW you say Chateauneuf-du-Pape, but it sure tickles the funny bone! Chateauneuf-du-pape

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