Seeing as how it was a special occasion (more or less), I decided to splurge on a very nice bottle of wine. Both of the special women that evening have a penchant for Chateauneuf-du-Pape and so I made my way down to Marquis Wine Cellars (http://www.marquiswines.ca/ ) to see what they could do for me. I had been fortunate enough to have the 1999 Chateau de Beaucastel just a few months ago & wanted something in the same vein, if not the same price-point. This was what we savored last night:
2004 Domaine La Roquete, Chateauneuf-du-Pape
by Frederic & Daniel Brunier (http://www.brunier.fr/ )
14.5%, $50 @ http://www.marquiswines.ca/ **EXCELLENT VALUE**
- soft brickish rim with a deep plum centre
- fully intense bouquet of garrigue (savory herbs, especially in this instance wild thyme), baie rouges (little red berries especially in this case red currants and cherries), chalky terroir and old leathery oak barrels
|label courtesy http://www.thewinedoctor.com/|
visual: clean; fully intense garnet core with slight cherry rim
So, in addition to the tasting notes, let me say a bit about AOC Chateauneuf du Pape.
Chateauneuf du Pape is arguable one of the most popular and well known wine making regions in the world. There are multiple reasons for this; (1) when the Popes lived in Avignon (1308-1378), this was the region that produced wine for them and continued to do so for centuries (2) it became the role-model for the AOC system under the guidance of Baron Pierre Le Roy (1923) and thus came under scrutiny by wine drinkers the world over (3) there is a history of wine making here for 2000 years.
The popes came into a region that had a reputation for mediocrity in its wine making. The popes gave it love, attention and massive amounts of hard work (by others). Because of this, the wines grew in depth and complexity - eventually being called "du Pape" under Pope John XXII. Obviously, with their immeasurable resources, the papacy would not have lent their name to something of mediocre quality.
Then in the early 1900's there was a "wild west" feel to the wine industry... anyone could call a wine by any name and no one was around to tell them not to. People would mix beet juice with cheap wine from Algeria or Bulgaria and call it Chateauneuf du Pape. Well, the winemakers who had been in the area around Chateauneuf (in the Southern Rhone) for in some cases centuries - were understandably miffed. They almost literally begged Baron Pierre le Roy to help them systematically organize their region to enforce and regulate quality. After the passing of these regulations, people the world over knew they could count on consistent quality from the winemakers of Chateauneuf. Ask MacDonalds or Starbucks how important consistency is to business.
And then there is the little matter of over two millennium of wine making in the region. Even if, at times, it was less then perfect wine making, it created a culture. In this region, people celebrate the vineyard; they design food around it, they build "siesta" into the afternoon so they can relax in it, they feel it in their bones because it is a part of their day-to-day life. Any culture that lives like this will naturally produce excellence over time.
Out of the three reasons listed above, none is more (or less) responsible for the quality produced within. True enough the prices are somewhat steep in comparison with for instance the Languedoc, but still reasonable compared to Burgundy. I digress. Chateauneuf reds are perfumed from the wild thyme and lavender that grow along the roads, baked by the long hot summers and sharp from the currant and raspberry flavored Grenache that abounds in the region. Explore. Enjoy.
CIN CIN ~!!! SLAINTE ~!!! CHEERS ~!!!