Domaine Giraud Chateauneuf-du-Pape Tradition 2016
#31 Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2018
The Tradition from Domaine Giraud comes from vineyards in the southern part of Châteauneuf-du-Pape famous for its red clay soils and galets. From vines ranging in age from 50–80 years old, the blend is nearly 2/3 Grenache followed by Syrah and small amount of Mourvedre. It is fermented in concrete and stainless steel tanks and while the Mourvedre and Grenache rests in concrete, the Syrah is aged in French oak barrels.
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In 1998, Pierre was ready to pass on his love of the vine and wine to his children. Marie and François took on the estate hand-in-hand. Under their parents’ watchful eye, they devoted themselves to tending vines and winemaking. They focused their efforts on selecting parcel by parcel, doing minimal treatments, upgrading their cellar to make finer and finer wines while respecting family traditions. François tries hard to tend each parcel and variety respecting the "terroir" as much as possible, that alchemy nature provides us with, to fully express our grapes' full character.
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.
With bold fruit flavors and accents of sweet spice, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre form the base of the classic Rhône Red Blend, while Carignan, Cinsault and Counoise often come in to play. Though they originated from France’s southern Rhône Valley, with some creative interpretation, Rhône blends have also become popular in other countries. Somm Secret—Putting their own local spin on the Rhône Red Blend, those from Priorat often include Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah make an appearance.