Although the Southern Rhone accounts for the majority of the production for the entire Rhone Valley region, it doesn’t have as many famous appellations as the Northern Rhone. But the one it has — Chateauneuf-du-Pape — can hardly be overlooked.
Chateauneuf-du-Pape, or “the Pope’s new castle”, got its name when the Gascon Pope Clement V moved his court to Avignon in 14th century.
In 1923, in order to prevent adulteration and fraud, and regulate wine production after the Phylloxera period, some of the most active chateaux owners in Chateauneuf-du-Pape set up several rules for winemaking in this region, which later became the prototype of the Appellation Controlee system.
As the very first Appellation Controlee (AC) in France, Chateauneuf-du-Pape is perhaps the most variable appellation in the Rhone Valley. The warm climate means that wines produced here, made from up to 13 grape varieties, are diverse in quality and style.
Among the many varieties permitted in Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Grenache is the dominant red grape. The variety, which is responsible for the top-quality red Chateauneuf-du-Pape, gives its finest expression when the fruity sweetness is balanced with good concentration.
White Chateauneuf-du-Pape, on the other hand, can be made by blending various white grapes, including Clairette, Roussanne, Bourboulenc and Grenache Blanc. White Chateauneuf-du-Pape is produced in small quantities, and is often drunk young.
An interesting fact about Chateauneuf-du-Pape is that in 1954 a law was passed prohibiting the landing of spaceships (“flying cigars”) in any vineyards in the appellation.
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