Thursday, July 13, 2017

Chateau Neuf Du Pape day 2


Today we visited the actual village of Chateau Neuf du Pape. It felt really special. Unlike other villages in Provence like Roussillon, Gordes,  Fontaine de Vaucluse or Isle de Sorge, there are a lot fewer tourists in the actual village of Chateau Neuf du Pape. That was surprising because it also has an amazing view and a lot of charm.

Overall Provence feels calm, quiet, warm, relaxing. It is probably among the best vacations we ever had. The food is amazing. The wine is even more amazing. And its diversity stands out.

1. Vergers des Papes.

The good: it is free, and the two tasters are extremely informative. In 15 minutes they really explain to you everything you need to know as basics about Chateau Neuf du Paper AOC, wines, region, wine makers, grapes... Everything.

What makes the Appelation d'Origines Controlee unique? Apparently it was the 1st one in France in 1936. Why is the wine special here? Apparently because when the popes used to live in Avignon they wanted nice wine (the church used a lot of wine) so they helped develop the wine in the region.

And what else is special about this AOC? They can use 13 grapes:
The best known one is Grenache which is the majority of the production. They also use Syrah, Mourvedre,  Roussanne, Clairette. But also a bunch I had never heard of: Cinsault, Counoise, Vaccarese, Picpoul, Muscardin, Bourboulenc, Terret Noir and Picardon.

And each wine maker decides who many go in each wine. So wines can go from 100% Grenache to 13 grapes. The old stile Chateau Neuf are made of all 13 grapes and farily strong ( Think: Chateau Nerthe) and the new style can be anything, soft and simple and elegant.

We tried a white Chateau Neuf ( only 6% of production) made of all 6 white grapes they have ( including white Grenach) , one new style Chateau Neuf (very new , 2016 vintage, needed more time to really express) and a 2009 Chateau Neuf as well. The bottles were really cheap by the way , around 25 Euros each.

Over all, the price to quality of the wine we tried was not bad but it did feel like the wine they sell to tourists in the tourist center because nobody else wanted to buy it.

The bad and the ugly: well all you taste here is 3 wines. That's it. And it's clearly made for tourists. So worth a stop perhaps if you are in the village already.

2. Les Girard du Boucou , Chateau Neuf du Pape,

On the way to the car from the Vergers des Papers I did have to stop by another winery and I picked the one that seemed artisanal and had the door open in a very friendly way. Great choice !
We were welcomed by the vinter's wife who was very polite.
We tasted their whites, and 3 reds. And we left with 9 magnums as some of their best wines were only left in magnums. And once you buy 3 magnums it's easier to pack only magnums than alternating normal bottles and magnums.

So I am really excited. With a case of Janasse from Day 1 and 9 magnums ( practically 1.5 cases) from Boucou, I think it's a good start.

But hontesly I feel we barely scratched the surface and 90% of the wine in the region is still to be explored. I think it's even richer then the wine from Burgundy and more diverse and I like it better. And then there is also the northern Vallee du Rhone, and Baume de Venise, and so much more!

I will be back and at least for a week and I will get more wine, for sure!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Chateau Neuf Du Pape

Today we visited Chateau Neuf du Pape.
The sommelier , Christophe, at l'Auberge de Cassagne restaurant ( amazing dinner by the way!) gave us some insider scoops:

1. Domaine de Janasse

We tried their amazing 2010 Chaupin over dinner and we had to go to the property.
They have an amazing Chateau Neuf , for 53EUR , called Chaupin that is amazing. Did I mention it was amazing yet? We liked it better than their 74EUR Vieilles Vignes too!
And we also loved their white Chateau Neuf called Tradition. We tried a 2009 bottle they were pouring in the tasting room but could only buy the 2016 one.
Apparently the 2015 and 2016 harvests are going to be amazing !
Amazing wine, will probably become a repeat buyer.

Also to be noted their Garrigues which is also 100% Grenache (Rouge) whihc is extremely rich with fruits but much less elegant.

Christophe also recommended the following we hope to get to before we leave:

To do :

Vergers des Papes: apparently a nice restaurant who in the basement has an amazing selection of Chateau Neuf you can taste as well. Closed on Monday so maybe tomorrow Tuesday?

Gigondas: apparently the winery to se is Santa Duc, Mr. Yves Gras. Have to go with recommendation from Christophe. He aparently ages the wine in old amphorae he brings from Italy.

And for Northers Valley Christophe recommended:

In St Joseph: Jean Gonon, in the village of Mauves
In Mercuroles, Yann Chave.

I don't think we will get to these last two. We may have to come back!