Domaine de Marcoux Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2018
With slightly less than one hectare of Roussanne and Bourboulenc, the Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc from Domaine de Marcoux is the smallest cuvée that they make. When the grapes arrive at the cellar they are gently pressed and the juice is allowed to settle for a few days before fermentation in stainless steel tanks. A small portion of the Roussanne will be aged in barrel but the rest will stay in tank on its fine lees. To preserve the freshness of the wine malolactic fermentation is prevented.
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Showing beautifully, the 2018 Châteauneuf Du Pape Blanc from Domaine De Marcoux checks in as a blend of 80% Roussanne and 20% Bourboulenc brought up in tank. It has a classy, textbook bouquet of white currants, honeyed peach, white flowers, and a touch of minerality to go with a medium to full-bodied, fleshy, opulent style on the palate that still stays pure, clean, and precise. It’s a no-brainer purchase to enjoy over the coming 2-3 years or even longer, if you’re so inclined.
The 2018 Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc comes from the domaine's single hectare of white grapes, planted to 80% Roussanne and 20% Bourboulenc. One-third is fermented in demi-muids, while the rest goes into stainless steel. Pineapple and guava notes appear on the nose, while the medium to full-bodied palate is clean and crisp, with a fresh, zesty finish.
In 1990, the Domaine became the first in the Chateauneuf-du-Pape to implement biodynamic farming practices. Their youngest vines are 40 to 60-years-old, and in short, the sisters do as little as possible to the harvested grapes. This domaine, as critic Stephen Tanzer put it, is "the essence of Chateauneuf-du-Pape."
In 2003, Robert Parker named Sophie and Catherine on his list of "Wine Personalities of Year," writing, "Over the last 12 years, the biodynamically farmed vineyard has risen to the top of Chateauneuf-du-Pape's quality hierarchy. The two red wines produced have been stunning, with the regular cuvée of Chateauneuf-du-Pape one of the finest in the appellation, and the limited production Cuvée Vieilles Vignes one of the world’s truly magnificent wines."
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, Châteauneuf-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 Châteauneuf-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 Châteauneuf-du-Pape is white wine. 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.