Rich red wines from south of France

Neil Courtier
Neil Courtier

The largest, best-known and most important appellation in the Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape produces more wine than the whole of the Northern Rhône combined.

The generous rich red wines, redolent of the Mediterranean conditions and herbs of the south, are enhanced by the added dimensions which can come from the potential of blending several of the 14 permitted grape varieties together – including Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah. Dominated by red wines, there’s a small amount of white Châteauneuf-du-Pape made too.

With food – steak pie, game pie, grilled red meats, rich stews, Guinea fowl, pigeon and pheasant.

ON THE SHELF

Chateau Mont-Redon 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, £19 The Wine Society – Brilliant white Châteauneuf-du-Pape, unoaked, very expressive, dry, with a noticeable purity of fruit – peach, yellow-apple, herbs, really well balanced and with excellent length.

Tesco – Finest 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, £13 – A full-bodied, rich and powerful Châteauneuf, with dark fruits/forest fruit flavours, there’s a smooth texture, spicy notes and a classic peppery finish.

W M Morrison 2013 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, £13.50 Morrison’s – A little bit of maturity here, resulting in rich raisin flavours, bramble-fruits, pepper and ‘sweet’ tannins. Drinking very well and good value.

Domaine Du Vieux Calcernier 2014 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, £14.99 Aldi – Calcernier relates to the ‘lime-stones’, so typical of this area. Intense red and black fruits and peppery spice on the nose. Shows very good concentration, not at all ‘over-done’.

Arc du Rhône 2014 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, £17.99 Waitrose – A splash of Syrah adds some blackberry aromas and flavours to this wine. Herbal, black-pepper, sloe, red-stone fruits. Medium to full-bodied, drinking well now, particularly with food.

Domaine Darieu 2013 Châteauneuf-du-Pape £23 (£20 mix-six) Majestic – Fruity – red-cherry, bramble-fruits, lavender, thyme. Full and generous, with superb presence, structure and notes of liquorice. A top wine.

Vignobles Gonnet 2013 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, £28.95 Corney & Barrow (Newmarket) – Grapes from low yielding, mostly 50 year old Grenache vines on exceptional terroir produce this delicious, full-bodied wine with notes of spiced Damson plum, black olive, herbs, cinnamon, firm, yet accessible tannins and real character.

Domaine Cros De La Mûre 2008 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, £40.19 Corney & Barrow (Newmarket) – A profound/amazing wine, from Eric Michel. This is poised Châteauneuf, with elegance and finesse to the fore. Made from 40-80 year-old vines, based on Grenache, the aromas are aromatic. On the palate, there’s a richness of fruit – plum, strawberry, with subtle notes of liquorice, it’s silky smooth and the wine goes on and on. A special occasion awaits.

-- Neil Courtier is a freelance wine educator and writer. He runs wine courses and tutored tastings for groups and individuals, in Bury and Cambridge. More details on 01359 270318 or visit his website www.grapesense.com