A big thank you to Michel Blanc and the syndicate of Châteauneuf-du-Pape for facilitating a few days in the appellation and an opportunity to engage with both the terroir and the wines. Despite tasting, drinking, selling and writing about these stony vineyards and full-bodied blends for years it was my first visit to the Vaulcluse and its evocative, iconic surroundings.
I was hosted in the charming, luxurious settings of Château des Fines Roches on the edge of the village, where a fine breakfast and morning views over the vineyards seduce one out into the day early on. I was to take part in an informal tasting panel to try and identify the best white from a group of award winning 2018s and the winner would receive a ‘special prix’ later that night. The trip was also to coincide with the annual fete de Saint Marc, Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s annual back slapping get together.
The huge gala dinner brings together more than 650 guests, ranging from winemakers, domaine owners, residents, civic dignitaries, press, local celebrities and a handful of international guests. Proud to be amongst the action, the evening was partnered with hundreds of bottles from award winning wines chosen through a blind tasting event in the weeks running up to the dinner.
One of the most eye opening experiences was a vertical tasting with Clos du Mont-Olivet. Not only does this family domaine boast generations of winemaking lineage in the village, they are aslo engaged in new and exciting projects in neigbouring Lirac. It can't be easy for an established, traditional name to suddenly start advocating the terroirs of other villages. You can read my tasting notes on los du Mont-Olivet here.
The negocient house of Ogier has been in the village for more than 150 years and produces a much larger range and in larger volumes, many of which I was already familair with. Of more interest though was the range of terroir driven wines, a quartet of cuvees originating in the four soils of the appellation - 'Galets Rouges' was my personal preference. 'Eclats Calcaires' from the calcite rich limestone is 100% Grenache and a put simply is an excerllent wine.
Thank you once again to all those who shared their time, experience knowledge and passion, but above all welcomed me into their worlds.
Thanks to Michel Blanc, Marie Clementine and Jessica Payeras.
I finished the trip with a wonderful lunch at L'Oustalet with my good friend Paul D.