Chateauneuf-du-Pape & Beyond
The first time we ran this class, in 2012, this is how we described it:
A legendary wine region that every Pope and professional wine critic have desired. Chateauneuf-du-Pape wines command some of the highest prices in the world. In this very special class, we ascend the tower of Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvedre, and Syrah to discover the treasures of 12th century viticulture, and experience the richness imparted to French wines today.
We admit we gilded the lily a bit on that one. Luridly purple prose was cool back then if it’s a bit embarrassing now. Here’s the deal: this is one of the ancient regions of the world, where the idea of Natural Wine is absurd because it’s always been natural here. From the Roman-era casinos of Gigondas to the OG rosé in Tavel, this is where wine really captured the imagination of the ancient world.
This is the Southern Rhone Valley, a wine region that wends from rags to riches back in the 80’s when an American wine critic Robert Parker started singing their praises. It’s a region that continues to evolve. Some of the best bio-dynamic winemakers practice their craft here, as well as some of the most famous.
The big guns of the Southern Rhône are arguably among the world’s most recognisable wines: weighty, concentrated offerings laden with Grenache dark cherries and Syrah stewed fruits, fully ripened in the Mediterranean sun. The power and depth of fruit demands higher alcohol levels for balance, making for the ultimate luxury wines.
While Châteauneuf-du-Pape may be one of the biggest names in the wine world, it’s the lesser-known nearby villages of Gigondas and Vacqueyras that tend to tempt the wine-savvy. Both produce a similar style of wine to their superstar neighbor, although Vacqueyras has slightly more perfumed wild-herb and olive aromas, while Gigondas is a touch more robust.
Oh, and here a few other. comments I made back in 2012
I don’t use the word lightly, but, yes, I am officially giddy over tonight’s “Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Beyond” class. Anyone who’s ever taken a class with me knows that, were I to find myself marooned on a desert island, I would be perfectly content to spend my time drinking Mosel Riesling, reds and whites from Burgundy, and Chateauneuf. Maybe it’s the tar. Or the herbs. Or the fig paste. Or any of the other million things that great Chateauneuf brings to the table. Whatever it is, tonight’s class is going to be i-n-s-a-n-e: Four vintages of Chateauneuf, Gigondas from 03 and 04, an 03 Rhone Ranger beauty, and the Torbreck Steading. My tongue may be calloused when I wake up tomorrow morning, but I really don’t care: These wines are more than worth it.