"The 2007 Chateauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes reveals gorgeous aromas of spring flowers, crushed black cherries, ink, lavender, and spice. The wine is dense ruby/purple-hued, deep, and full-bodied with terrific concentration, a layered texture, and a stunningly long finish. It should drink beautifully young, yet age for 15 or more years. Young proprietors Aime and Michel Arnaud continue to turn out forward, complex, seductive Chateauneuf du Papes." Wine Advocate 92-94
"Bright ruby. Intensely perfumed, with a spicy bouquet of raspberry, kirsch, smoky herbs and minerals. Open-knit red and dark berry flavors coat the palate and are supported by fine-grained tannins. Finishes with good sweetness, clarity and an echo of minerals. Here's another 2007 that will be very appealing on release." International Wine Cellar 90-93
Domaine La Milliere Winery
All of Arnaud's Châteauneuf vines are located in Cabrières, just below Mont Redon. This region is blessed with the best soils of Châteauneuf—round galet stones the size of fists, well-draining sand, and mineral-rich limestone. Vines that have seen close to a century of life in Châteauneuf sit north/west on Arnaud’s vineyard slopes.
Ancient too are the vines Arnaud sources for his "smaller" crus. Some of Arnaud's oldest Grenache vines grow in his vineyards just below Mont Redon. These 100+ year old vines produce incredibly dense fruit that make up his finest Côtes du Rhône and Côtes du Rhône-Villages wines.
Millière’s Merlot vineyards sit right next to his Côtes du Rhône plots. These younger vines grow on sandy, clay-based soils. This region, just north of Cabrières near Orange, is very good for vin de pays. The mistral sweeps through, keeping humidity low, while sandy soils provide good drainage. A "joli terroir de Merlot," says Millière.
Photo of galets covering the soil at Chateau de Beaucastel
Southern Rhone's landmark region, Chateauneuf du Pape, was the first region to gain AC status in France. That was the 1920s – it's history goes much further back than that. As the name suggests, the wine region was named after the "new papal home," referring to the period of time in the 1300's when the pope resided in Avignon instead of Rome.
There are 13 allowed varieties in Chateauneuf du Pape (14 if you count Grenache Blanc separately from Grenache Noir). Grenache is the primary variety, followed by Syrah and Mourvedre as well as Cinsault. About 97% of the wines here are red, although many chateaux are producing whites ranging from quaffable to decadent and ageworthy. Reds from the best estates emit wonderful flavors of gamey spice, blackberries and currant, as well as the herbs and spices that are known to grow in the region.
Note on the soil: The grapes grow on soils covered in rounded, smooth stones called galets (gah-lay). The stones naturally cover most of the soils throughout Chateauneuf du Pape and are two fold in their duties. First, they are able to reflect and absorb the heat, to quicken the ripening of the grapes. They also help to hold in moisture so that the soils are not dried out by the hot Southern French sun.
About France - Other regions
When it comes to wine, France is a classic. Classic blends, grapes and styles began in the country and they still remain. Think about it - people ask for a Burgundian style Pinot Noir, they refer to wines as Bordeaux or Rhone blends - Champagne even had to pass a law to stop international wineries from putting their region on the label of all sparkling wine.
The top regions of France are: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire, Rhone. And these regions are so diverse! It makes sense that wine regions throughout the world try to emulate their style. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and
Syrah are no longer French varieties, but international varieties. They may not be the leader of cutting edge technology or value-priced wines, but there is no doubt that they are still producing wines of great quality and diversity.
I have never been disappointed with a bottle ofChateauneuf-du-pape. The only thing I don't like about it is that I cannot afford to drink it exclusively, but it sure makes staying home to cook a lot more enjoyable.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.