Southern Rhône

Châteauneuf du Pape

Châteauneuf-du-Pape literally translates to “The Pope’s new castle” and, indeed, the history of this appellation is firmly entwined with papal history. In 1308, Pope Clement V, former Archbishop of Bordeaux, relocated the papacy to the town of Avignon. Clement V and subsequent “Avignon Popes” were said to be great lovers of Burgundy wines and did much to promote it during the seventy-year duration of the Avignon Papacy.

At the time, wine-growing around the town of Avignon was anything but illustrious. While the Avignon Papacy did much to advance the reputation of Burgundy wines, they were also promoting viticulture of the surrounding area, more specifically the area 5–10 km (3–6 mi) north of Avignon close to the banks of the Rhône. Prior to the Avignon Papacy, viticulture of that area had been initiated and maintained by the Bishops of Avignon, largely for local consumption.

Clement V was succeeded by John XXII who, as well as Burgundy wine, regularly drank the wines from the vineyards to the north and did much to improve viticultural practices there. Under John XXII, the wines of this area came to be known as “Vin du Pape”, this term later to become Châteauneuf-du-Pape. John XXII is also responsible for erecting the famous castle which stands as a symbol for the appellation.

The Grape Varieties of Châteauneuf

Châteauneuf-du-Pape is traditionally cited as allowing thirteen grape varieties to be used, but the 2009 version of the AOC rules in fact list eighteen varieties, since blanc (white), rose (pink) and noir (black) versions of some grapes are now explicitly listed as separate varieties. Also in the previous version of the appellation rules, Grenache and Picpoul were associated with different pruning regulations in their noir and blanc versions, bringing the number of varieties previously mentioned from thirteen to fifteen.

Red varieties allowed are Cinsaut, Counoise, Grenache noir, Mourvèdre, Muscardin, Piquepoul noir, Syrah, Terret noir, and Vaccarèse (Brun Argenté). White and pink varieties are Bourboulenc, Clairette blanche, Clairette rose, Grenache blanc, Grenache gris, Picardan, Piquepoul blanc, Piquepoul gris, and Roussanne. (The varieties not specifically mentioned before 2009 are Clairette rose, Grenache gris and Piquepoul gris.)

Both red and white varieties are allowed in both red and white Châteauneuf-du-Pape. There are no restrictions as to the proportion of grape varieties to be used, and unlike the case with other appellations, the allowed grape varieties are not differentiated into principal varieties and accessory varieties.

Thus, it is theoretically possible to produce varietal Châteauneuf-du-Pape from any of the eighteen allowed varieties. In reality, most Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines are blends dominated by Grenache. Only one of every 16 bottles produced in the region is white wine.


Pierre Usseglio's Grenache


Domaine Pierre Usseglio Châteauneuf-du-Pape ‘Reserve des 2 Frères’ 2015

Half aged in new and used barriques, 25 percent in new and used demi-muids and the rest in concrete tanks. Opaque ruby. A complex, expansive bouquet evokes ripe dark berries, candied flowers, vanilla and woodsmoke, and a suave Indian spice nuance builds in the glass. Broad and seamless in the mouth, offering deeply concentrated blackberry, cherry cola and violet pastille flavors and a sweetening mocha flourish. Closes extremely long and sappy; smooth, sneaky tannins shape the lush dark fruit.
$290
$280ea in any 3+
$270ea in any 6+

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Sabon Châteauneuf-du-Pape ‘Les Olivets’ 2016

“Made from 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, and 10% Cinsault, the 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Les Olivets is a winner in this great vintage. Blackcurrants, black olives, licorice, and peppery notes all flow to a ripe, sexy, opulent Châteauneuf-du-Pape that has terrific purity, ripe tannin, and a great finish. It's a no-brainer purchase.” Jeb Dunnuck  
$82
$77ea in any 3+
$72ea in any 6+

Sabon Châteauneuf-du-Pape ‘Les Olivets’ 2017

“A straight-up fruit bomb, it has full-bodied richness, beautiful purity, and tons of charm. I'm impressed – Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to taste any 2018s from this estate but, unquestionably, their 2017s are some of the wines of the vintage. Now - 2029” Jeb Dunnuck  
$87
$83ea in any 3+
$79ea in any 6+

Sabon Châteauneuf-du-Pape ‘Réserve’ 2017

“The 2017 Châteauneuf Du Pape Reserve is largely in the same ballpark [as the Prestige] and has terrific notes of blackberries, smoked earth, garrigue, and pepper. It’s based on 80% Grenache and 10% Syrah and Mourvèdre brought up in foudre and cuve tronconique tanks. More concentrated as well as focused, it's medium to full-bodied, has brilliant concentration, ripe, present tannins, and a great finish. It's another awesome wine from this estate.” Jeb Dunnuck  
$103
$98ea in any 3+
$93ea in any 6+

Château Mont-Redon Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2017

As I researched this wine the texture they achieved made sense! $600K sorting kit does make a difference!
$105
$100ea in any 3+
$95ea in any 6+

Sabon Châteauneuf-du-Pape ‘Cuvée Prestige’ 2017

“Including more Syrah, the 2017 Châteauneuf Du Pape Prestige is 70% Grenache 20% Mourvèdre, and the rest Mourvèdre and other permitted varieties. While it’s brought up mostly in foudre, it has 10% in demi-muids and 30% in cuve tronconique. With thrilling purity of fruit, notes of black raspberries, blackberries, ground pepper, garrigue, and a distinct sense of minerality, it hits the palate with full-bodied richness, ripe, sweet tannins, a beautifully opulent texture, and a great fini
$150
$143ea in any 3+
$136ea in any 6+

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-Du-Pape 2017

Château de Beaucastel along with Vieux Télégraphe ‘La Crau’ was one of the 1st great Châteauneuf’s I tried. The wines are beautiful, sophisticated & layered with delicious flavours!
$275
$265ea in any 3+
$255ea in any 6+

Clos des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2019

"One of the strongest wines in the vintage...Tasted out of bottle, the 2019 Châteauneuf Du Pape is a stunning example of this estate as well as the vintage. Gorgeous kirsch, flowery incense, spice box, and garrigue-like notes define the nose, and it hits the palate with classic Clos des Papes elegance and finesse backed up by a great mid-palate, fabulous concentration, and a monster of a finish. Don’t miss this beauty." Jeb Dunnuck 98 Points "Shows impressive finesse for its depth and f
$287
$277ea in any 3+
$267ea in any 6+

Domaine Pierre Usseglio Châteauneuf-du-Pape ‘Reserve des 2 Frères’ 2015

Half aged in new and used barriques, 25 percent in new and used demi-muids and the rest in concrete tanks. Opaque ruby. A complex, expansive bouquet evokes ripe dark berries, candied flowers, vanilla and woodsmoke, and a suave Indian spice nuance builds in the glass. Broad and seamless in the mouth, offering deeply concentrated blackberry, cherry cola and violet pastille flavors and a sweetening mocha flourish. Closes extremely long and sappy; smooth, sneaky tannins shape the lush dark fruit.
$290
$280ea in any 3+
$270ea in any 6+

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-Du-Pape MAGNUM 2017

Château de Beaucastel along with Vieux Télégraphe ‘La Crau’ was one of the 1st great Châteauneuf’s I tried. The wines are beautiful, sophisticated & layered with delicious flavours!
$470
$209ea in any 3+
$199ea in any 6+

Sabon Châteauneuf-du-Pape ‘Le Secret des Sabon’ 2017

“On another level, the 2017 Châteauneuf Du Pape Le Secret Des Sabon is stacked and packed and ranks with the top 2-3 wines in this great vintage. A huge nose of blackcurrants, melted licorice, graphite, garrigue and pepper gives way to an uber-full-bodied, concentrated, massively endowed wine that has an insane level of opulence and decadent, sweet tannins, and a huge finish. This is a tour de force in wine that readers need to taste to believe. Given its wealth of fruit and texture, it’s a
$495
$480ea in any 3+
$465ea in any 6+