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Louis Bernard Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2007

Rhone Red Blends from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
  • WS90
14.5% ABV
  • WE90
  • W&S91
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14.5% ABV

Winemaker Notes

Châteauneuf-du-Pape is the most prestigious southern Rhône wine. It was here that the appellation contrôlée system began in 1923, when a group of local winemakers, led by Baron Le Roy, drew up a charter of six stipulations to regulate and safeguard the quality of their table wines. Decades later, the laws of the appellation contrôlée system remain largly unchanged.

The Templiers originally planted vines in the region in the 12th century. Two hundred years later, it was the papacy of Avignon that continued the winemaking tradition. It was the new chateau (château neuf) completed by Pope John XXII in 1333 for which the wines of this region and the city itself are named.

At its best, Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a broad, generous, sinewy wine showing a range of dark, fruity flavors. The wines derive their uniqueness from several sources. The round red and cream-colored stones and galets, left by ancient Alpine glaciers, absorb heat throughout the day and then reflect it onto the vines during the cool nights. As a result, the grapes reach maximum maturity. Furthermore, the vines here benefit from the cleansing winds of the mistral, which keep them dry and free of undesirable diseases.

Grenache accounts for 60% of the vines planted here, but because it can be unbalanced on its own, another 12 varietals (including five white ones) are permitted for use in making red wines. Châteuneuf-du-Pape white represents only 5% of the total appelation and is also a blend of up to six varietals. Yields are limited to 2.59 tons per acre.

Critical Acclaim

All Vintages
WS 90
Wine Spectator
Rich and plump, offering a juicy core of black Mission fig, plum and currant fruit, layered with roasted vanilla bean and melted licorice notes. The finish is plush and rounded. Drink now through 2014.
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Louis Bernard

Louis Bernard

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Louis Bernard, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
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Since 1976, Louis Bernard has united winemakers of the Rhone Valley in a common project: to devote the best of their wine and savoir-faire to producing great wines. With production throughout the Cotes du Rhone region, Louis Bernard remains dedicated to showcasing the unique characteristics of each terroir while producing exquisite, world-class wines.

La Chartreuse de Bonpas is a medieval fortified convent located near Avignon in the Provence region of France, on the Durance River. According to legend, the area was originally called "Maupas" (bad passage) because it was dominated by dangerous bandits. In the 12th century, a holy man named Sibertius arrived with soldiers, built a convent, and chased away the evil bandits. Thus, the name was changed from "Maupas" to "Bonpas" (good passage) and became known as a safe haven allowing travelers a secure crossing of the Durance River .

Today, this historic monument is surrounded by 45 acres of A.O.C. Cotes du Rhone vineyards and is home to Louis Bernard. Visitors can tour the chapel, stroll in the beautiful French-style gardens, and enjoy wine tasting in the ancient cellar.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape

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Famous for its full-bodied, seductive and spicy reds with flavor and aroma characteristics of silky black cherry, baked raspberry, garrigue, olive tapenade, lavender and baking spice, Chateauneuf-du-Pape is the leading sub-appellation of the southern Rhone 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 Cinsaut, 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.

Rhône Blends

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With bold fruit flavors and accents of spice, Rhône red blends originated in France’s Southern Rhône valley and have become popular in Priorat, Washington, South Australia, and California’s Central Coast. In the Rhône itself, 19 grape varieties are permitted for use, but many of these blends, are based on Grenache and supported by Syrah and Mourvèdre, earning the nickname “GSM blends.” Côtes du Rhône and Châteauneuf-du-Pape are perhaps the best-known outposts for these wines. Other varieties that may be found in Rhône blends include Carignan, Cinsault, and Counoise.

In the Glass

The taste profile of a Rhône blend will vary according to its individual components, as each variety brings something different to the glass. Grenache, which often forms the base of these blends, is the lightest in color but contributes plenty of ripe red fruit, a plush texture, and often high levels of alcohol. Syrah supplies darker fruit flavors, along with savory, spicy, and meaty notes. Mourvèdre is responsible for a floral perfume as well as body, tannin, and a healthy dose of color. New World examples will lie further along the fruit-forward end of the spectrum, while those from the Old World taste and smell much earthier, often with a “barnyard” character that is attractive to many fans of these wines.

Perfect Pairings

Rhône red blends typically make for very food-friendly wines. Depending on the weight and alcohol level, these can work with a wide variety of meat-based dishes—they play equally well with beef, pork, duck, lamb, or game. With their high acidity, these wines are best-matched with salty or fatty foods, and can handle the acidity of tomato sauce in pizza or pasta. Braised beef cheeks, grilled lamb sausages, or roasted squab are all fine pairings.

Sommelier Secret

Some regions like to put their own local spin on the Rhône red blend—for example, in Australia’s Barossa Valley, Shiraz is commonly blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to add structure, tannin, and a long finish. Grenache-based blends from Priorat often include Carignan (known locally as Cariñena) and Syrah, but also international varieties like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, anything goes, and it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, or even Tempranillo make an appearance.

CWW17131F_2007 Item# 98515