Domaine Saint Prefert Chateauneuf-du-Pape Collection Charles Giraud 2011
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One of the stars of this underrated, irregular vintage, Saint-Prefert's 2011 Chateauneuf du Pape Collection Charles Giraud still seems almost youthful, at least from a pristine bottle sourced at the winery. Plummy, cola-scented fruit and spice notes give way to a wine that's full-bodied, richly textured, velvety and still a bit tannic and fresh on the long finish.
Isabel Ferrando bought the Domaine Saint Prefert and vinified for the first time in 2003. The estate is situated on the south side of the village of Chateauneuf-du-Pape atop gravel and pebble soils.
Domaine Saint Prefert produces wines epitomizing the Provencal region. Herbs such as garrigue, thyme and rosemary abound. Grenache is expressed in notes of candied fruit, chocolate and roasted coffee.
Isabel Ferrando farms organically. She expanded her holdings and built a new state-of-the-art winery in 2009. Isabel's mentality is to never stop improving: "The substantial work done in the vineyards over the past eight years brings us ever closer to the level of quality that I seek. Progress is ahead of us."
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.