The Demystified Vine

Taking the mystery out of wine exploration!

Châteauneuf-du-Pape is both a French commune in the south of France, as well as a label used for a style of wine. This area of France is actually entrenched with papal influence. In the 14th century, Pope Clement V relocated the papacy to the district of Avignon; the area of France where Châteauneuf-du-Pape is located. It is said that although viticulture was not distinguished in this area at the time, the papacy still enjoyed their wine! When Pope John XXII took over rule in the 14th century, he was determined to up the quality of wines available in the area. As a result of the improvement from changes that took place, the wines now made were referred to as “Vin du Pape”, which later took on the label “Châteauneuf du Pape”.

I recently had the opportunity to try the 2009 Domaine des Relagnes Pierre Troupel Châteauneuf du Pape. My friend and fellow WSET colleague Brenda Latta, obtained the bottle from Alain Cloutier, a French wine importer living in Vancouver, BC who owns A & K La Boutique du Vin. Alain is serious about French wines, and he is also passionate about Domaine des Relagnes`s beautiful Châteauneuf du Pape. I spoke to Alain about this specific wine and why this wine stands out from others. His response:

2009 was a great year for Cote du Rhone – very hot, long summer [and] not much rain which gives powerful wine. Why this wine stands out from others? They did a micro-oxidation twice a day that really helped the wine to age well and remove the dusty taste of other Chateaneuf…

My tasting notes on this 14.5% abv bottle from France stated, “Perfectly integrated beauty.” I suppose that says it all, right? However, I will elaborate…

The bouquet revealed fruity goodness; ripe cherry, blackberry, and rounded plum. The palate tasted of berry juices infused with hints of wood, earthiness, and soft spices. This makes sense, considering this Châteauneuf du Pape is a red blend of GSM, or non-abbreviated: Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. I found the oaking to be subtle and smooth; it was elegantly stated. My notes said that I thought it could be cellared up to another 3 years, but that it is absolutely drinking at this time. There was a medium finish, and what sticks around are the black pepper nuances. Overall, the tannin structure was put on a soft-medium scale, the acid was at a medium level, and the body was medium as well.

Robert Parker generally states of Châteauneuf du Pape wines:

“As I have written many times in the past, the sweet spot for drinking Châteauneuf du Papes is usually the first 5-6 years after the vintage. Then they seem to go through an adolescent, awkward, and sometimes dormant stage…

(Quote taken from here.)

While I think waiting another 3 years would provide an ideal experience with this Châteauneuf du Pape, I do think that this wine has already developed nicely, and is favourable to drink at this moment. If you have the patience to wait three years for this wine to mature more, it will still be a delicious treat. Parker is definitely right in that the “sweet spot” is around the 5 year mark, and this rule clearly applies to this product. Drink now or wait, please visit the Granville Liquor Store to pick up your bottle of 2009 Domaine des Relagnes Pierre Troupel Châteauneuf du Pape.

As an aside, my final tasting note on this wine said, “So smooth that you might just want to be picked up by this honey.” I guess I liked it or something.

Click here to see how UFOs, yes, have played a part in the history of wines from this area! Happy reading!


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