If I had a pound for every time people say “Châteauneuf-du-Pape” when I ask them to name their special-buy red, I wouldn’t be sitting here.
Sorry, but that’s how shallow I am. It’s June and you might not be thinking of red wine, but tomorrow is Father’s Day, so you have an excuse.
I asked Dad A and Dad B to taste-test some Châteauneuf-du-Pape. But first, some facts: Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a town in southern Rhone near Avignon, so-named as it sits in the shadow of a medieval papal palace.
Wine-makers are allowed to use up to 18 grape varieties but most blend from just a handful. Grenache is the powerhouse. It is the most widely planted and the backbone of red wines. Mourvèdre, syrah, cinsault and others take supporting roles.
Yes, there are a handful of white wines too. Grapes include clairette, and roussanne.
The wines are not for the faint-hearted. By law, the minimum alcohol level is 12.5% – don’t be surprised if you find wines at 16%.
The price range is huge, so deep breaths.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Barberini, Domaine de la Solitude, 2010 (wineman.co.uk) is a blend of 80% grenache and 20% syrah. Says Dad A: “The nose whacks you like a Tyson right hand. The hints aren’t so much hints as full-on explanations. Espresso, Bonfire Night, chocolate, bicycle saddles, blackberries, compost, like walking into a greenhouse.”
Yes, it’s £44.99, a bit of a Gulp Factor, but Dad A says: “Take my advice. Buy it but make the kids pay. You’re worth it.”
For Dad B, a mix of red and white, both from www.gerrardseel.co.uk. The white was Chateau De La Gardine Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc Cuvee Des Generations Marie-Leoncie 2011 (£34.75) and the red, Chateau De La Gardine Châteauneuf-du-Pape Tradition 2011 (£28.40)
Says Dad B: “These are a real treat: The white is the pick of the pair, a gorgeous, rich mixture of gingerbread and honey on the tongue but balanced with plenty of fresh fruit, all conjuring up summer nights in Provence.
“The red is a beautifully balanced mouthful, packed with dark fruit flavours and a smidgeon of pepper and spice.”
I think you’ve got the message. Dads like Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
I’m not a dad, but I’m allowed my say.
Domaine du Usseglio 2012 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Tradition (£26.54, wine.gauntleys.com) is a blend of grenache (80%) with syrah, cinsault and mourvèdre in attendance. Talk about comfort blankets. Rich ripe punnets of black fruit in a full-bodied velvet cloak speckled with spice.
Also from Gauntleys, Domaine Giraud 2010 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Tradition (£29.37) is produced from vines between 60 and 80 years old. They’ve known life and offer much. Grenache is 60%, followed by syrah and a sprinkle of mourvèdre.
I was asked to write the word “yum” so I will and I have. There’s a lush richness of vanilla and black cherries on the nose (chocolate too) with lots more of the same to taste.
From Tesco’s website, there’s an award-winner in Châteauneuf du Pape Cellier des Princes Haut des Coteaux 2010 (£25). The 2010 vintage won gold at the International Wine Challenge. Spice is the driver here, with plummy, cherry fruits and a savoury edge which all add to a very delightful mouthful indeed.
I suggest you go to your local independent wine merchants to find a really special good CdP for dad.
In the supermarkets, Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Châteauneuf-Du-Pape 2013 (£14) won the International Wine Challenge Great Value Red under £15. It’s silky, peppery and nicely balanced. Asda has a decent offering too, with Extra Special Chateauneuf du Pape 2012 (£9.97).
Have fun, dads.
Published in the saturday extra magazine June 20, 2015