Friday, August 1, 2008


(Corey Bogdan has become our resident Francophile at our Fort Thomas store. Here he discusses his love for this phenomenal wine region...)

New House of the Pope

It's one of the longest names for a wine, and definitely one of the best. It is by far the best known, largest, and highly regarded appellation in the Rhone Valley in France. It's none other than Chateauneuf-du-Pape. It is a wine that I really wish more customers would try.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape is the 19th century name for this top wine-producing area. In 1157, the Templars settled on the site, which was, at the time, a well known battle site between the Romans and the Gauls. Pope John XXII, who certainly encouraged viticulture, had a castle built here in 1323, where it became the Pope's summer residence (hence the name Chateauneuf-du-Pape, which means New House of the Pope). Despite a long history of growing grapes, the reputation of this region really didn't take off until after WWII, as before this the wines were primarily sold in Burgundy.

Overall, 13 varieties of grapes are permitted here, of which Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvedre, Syrah, Muscardin, Counoise, Clairette, and Bourbelanc are the main varietals used. Many of the top growers consider Grenache the most complex variety, and Mourvedre can give the wines some aging potential. Syrah is coming on strong, but many producers stray away from it as the climate of Chateauneuf-du-Pape can be too hot, which can take away some of the nuances for which the grape is known.

Okay, enough history and background. Here are a few reasons why I would like to see more customers buy a bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

(1) Long story short, they're very yummy.
(2) If you have enjoyed Cote-du-Rhones, Gigondas, or Vacqueryas wines, why not now try the best stuff to come from this area?
(3) Never tried a Rhone? Well, if you like wines of strength, density, and finesse, now's the time to give this appellation a shot.
(4) You will get what you pay for...almost without fail these wines are rated 90+ (sorry Kevin) with some scoring high into the 90's in a good year.
(5) They make a great gift, either to yourself or someone you want to treat well.
(6) You can drink them now if you want a powerful wine, or age them for a smooth, complex wine.
(7) They are ridiculously versatile: I've enjoyed a recent vintage with a nice steak dinner at the Tropicana (it was a celebratory evening), enjoyed an aged Chateauneuf-du-Pape with dinner at a friend's house, and have also had one just sitting on my couch watching a favorite movie, without food.
(8) There are some fantastic recent vintages...look for bottles from 2005, 2001, and 2000, all rated 95 or higher as a vintage. Classic years (rated 90 to 92) were 2006, 2004, and 2003. These are available, ready to be purchased, and you can feel confident that you are getting quality for your money.
(9) Okay, these wines can be a bit pricey (35 to 50 for most, some as high as 110 bucks), but hey, YOU'RE WORTH IT!
(10) Did I mention that they're yummy?

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