Clos du Mont Olivet Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2010
While the family are strict traditionalists, they still allow us to make our North Berkeley Barrel Selection from wine raised in used Burgundy barrels we provide. Jean-Claude Sabon performs most of the vineyard work himself, while his son Thierry (who has a Ph.D in physics) manages winemaking duties.
Clos du Mont Olivet Chateauneuf-du-Pape bursts forth from the glass with aromatics of crushed vanilla beans, Mexican chocolate, coffee, and a sandalwood warmth that we’ve come to recognize as the Mont Olivet signature. From 80-year-old vines, our barrel selection wine is usually 65% Grenache, with the remainder Syrah and Mourvèdre.
"La Cuvee du Papet," named for Joseph Sabon, Sr., (papet means “Grandpa”) is a selection of the finest lots in the cellar, and is acknowledged by many to be one of the most age-worthy, fascinating wines produced in the appellation.
North Berkeley Imports
Famous for its full-bodied, seductive and spicy reds with flavor and aroma characteristics reminiscent of black cherry, baked raspberry, garrigue, olive tapenade, lavender and baking spice, Chateauneuf-du-Pape is the leading sub-appellation of the southern Rhône River Valley. Large pebbles resembling river rocks, called "galets" in French, dominate most of the terrain. The stones hold heat and reflect it back up to the low-lying gobelet-trained vines. Though the galets are typical, they are not prominent in every vineyard. Chateau Rayas is the most obvious deviation with very sandy soil.
According to law, eighteen grape varieties are allowed in Chateauneuf-du-Pape and most wines are blends of some mix of these. For reds, Grenache is the star player with Mourvedre and Syrah coming typically second. Others used include Cinsault, Counoise and occasionally Muscardin, Vaccarèse, Picquepoul Noir and Terret Noir.
Only about 6-7% of wine from Chateauneuf-du-Pape is white. Blends and single-varietal bottlings are typically based on the soft and floral Grenache Blanc but Clairette, Bourboulenc and Roussanne are grown with some significance.
The wine of Chateauneuf-du-Pape takes its name from the relocation of the papal court to Avignon. The lore says that after moving in 1309, Pope Clément V (after whom Chateau Pape-Clément in Pessac-Léognan is named) ordered that vines were planted. But it was actually his successor, John XXII, who established the vineyards. The name however, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, translated as "the pope's new castle," didn’t really stick until the 19th century.
Full-bodied and flavorful, white Rhône blends originate from France’s Rhône Valley. Today these blends are also becoming popular in other regions. Typically some combination of Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier form the basis of a white Rhône blend with varying degrees of flexibility depending on the exact appellation. Somm Secret—In the Northern Rhône, blends of Marsanne and Roussanne are common but the south retains more variety. Marsanne, Roussanne as well as Bourboulenc, Clairette, Picpoul and Ugni Blanc are typical.