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Chateauneuf-du-Pape wine appellation
Wine appellation

Reviewed By

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane
Address: Provence
Country: France

Châteauneuf-du-Pape is one of the most famous appellations in France. Its wines are now highly prized and becoming quite expensive. The vines here are grown in the famous rocky soils that absorb the sun's rays during the day and keep the vines warm at night.
The appellation stretches from Orange in the north to Sorgues in the south (just north of Avignon) and also takes in the communes of Bedarrides, Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Courthezon.
It is a difficult appellation to fully understand as the reds can be made from up to thirteen grape varieties. There are also some less well known but equally fascinating whites produced here. Part of the reason why the quality is high is the requirement for a maximum yield of only 35 hectolitres per hectare rather than around 50 which is permitted in many other appellations. Many producers, particularly those who make their wines only from Grenache, have much lower yields of around 20 hectolitres per hectare.
There are thirteen permitted grape varieties in the Chateauneuf-du-Pape appellation but this is really fifteen as two of them (Grenache and Picpoul) are permitted in both their white and red varieties. Unlike other appellations in the southern Rhone there are no rules about the percentage of each grape that can be used. That is left to the producer. There are examples of pure Syrah wines and pure Grenache wines here. Some producers such as Château de Beaucastel use a high level of Mourvedre in their wines.
The main red grape variety, however, is Grenache which comprises over 70% of the plantings and which gives the wines their power and length. Grenache has a high level of sugar for a red grape and therefore is capable of producing high levels of alcohol In the wine.
The Grenache can be rounded out by any of the other twelve permitted varieties, namely Cinsault, Counoise, Mourvèdre, Muscardin, Shiraz, Terret Noir, Vaccarèse, Bourboulenc, Clairette, Picardan, the powerful Roussanne and Picpoul. White wines are made from Clairette (a particular favourite of ours), Grenache Blanc, Bourboulenc, Roussanne, Picpoul and Picardan.
The main labels to look for are Château de Beaucastel, Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe, Château Rayas, Domaine le Clos du Caillou, Domaine de Mont-Redon, Clos du Mont-Olivet, Domaine de Montpertuis, Domaine de la Mordorée, Château de la Nerthe and Tardieu-Laurent.
The following book provides an authoritative account of the wines of the Rhone Valley including those of Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
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