Revisting Châteauneuf

Earlier this year, during the dark, cold months of February, I hopped on a speedy train to Montpellier to attend Vinisud 2014. An absolute must for any wine professional, it made me expect more of out every event I go to now.

As I mentioned in my summary, you need to go there with a purpose if you plan to cover any small part of the 1,300 wineries showing their stuff within the three days of the fair. I dug in heavily to Châteauneuf-du-Pape and in doing so, learned more about the region and always came back to share some bottles with sommelier and wine writing friends here in Catalonia to see how the French “do it” with many of the same grapes that the best Catalan wines are made from. Following are some of the results worth noting as they show a broad range of what Châteauneuf has to offer.

Photo by VinologueJulien Masquin Mémora 2011
Soft nose, touches of cocoa dust, white pepper, balsamic notes, and root vegetable. Fresh rainwater mixed with minerality. Fresh cherries. Smooth across the palate. Wild spices. Good deal of acidity in the finish. Gets smoother as it decants but overall is less defined than I’d like, but still a fine example and price for the region.

Grenache, Syrah 14.5% 20€

Photo by VinologueDomaine La Barroche 2011
Initially a touch lactic in the nose with red fruits, white pepper, orange blossoms. Very balanced in the mouth. Rich and smooth in to the finish. Earthy and full in to the finish. Smooths out wonderfully with air and is no end of expressive and complex with layer upon layer as you work your way through the bottle. Plus the young winemaker, Julien Barrot is a really pleasant fellow.

100% Grenache 15% 29€

Photo by VinologueDomaine Lafond Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2011
Cloves and wonderful spices and mineral notes to the nose. Pepper and floral notes as well as dark fruits. Smooth in the mouth with large tannins and spiciness that trails in to the finish with a touch of bitter almond. Could stand another 3-5 years in the bottle, but is damned fine and elegant now.

80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre 14% 32€