Tasting T1.15 Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge

Anyone who knows my family will know that the Southern Rhone is one of two favourite regions. Within that region is a beautiful hilly village called Chateauneuf du Pape (or CH9 if you enjoy abbreviations). I could go on for paragraphs about the overall enjoyment of tasting wines from this appellation. The ability that two vineyards have that are next to each other to produce starkly different wines. To produce wines that are both undeniably fresh, but also powerful and robust with extremely long term ageing ability. However I will let you do more of a deep dive if you see fit, I will just give you the information that is necessary.

Chateauneuf (as mentioned above) is its own appellation. Therefore strict rules govern it like any other cru. Officially, it can produce both white and red wines from a select 13 grape varieties (I used to know these all off by heart… so much free time). However, unofficially there are in fact 20 varieties that are generally used. Having mentioned above (again!) these wines are robust and burst with rich dark and red fruits. The general blend is that of Grenache, Syrah & Mourvedre and it is generally in that order. Over the last few years certain Domaine’s have pushed the boundaries and now there are 100% Grenache wines, 100% Syrah wines and even 70%, 80% and 100% Mourvedre wines. Whilst only 7-8% of the wine produced in CH9 is white, these wines have excelled over the last 6-10 years. Utilising Grenache Blanc, Clairette and Roussanne to make white wines, these are clean, pure, floral driven wines that can age for a decade or more at their best. As I said I could go on for a while but you get the gist. Just to end, the appellation was created in 1936 and there are over 320 estates in and around the village. ANYWAY… Lets crack on.

The Wineries are:

La Bastide Saint Dominique

Eric and Veronique Bonnet have been at the helm of La Bastide Saint Dominique for quite some time. Their wines are a true testament to the appellation of Chateauneuf du Pape. For over 40 years this estate has been renowned for elegant and balanced wines across the board. They do also make Cairanne, Cotes du Rhone and other wines, but their Chateauneuf’s are where they really shine. They make two whites and three reds and their flagship Secret de Pignan is now made with 100% Grenache (older vintages have 5% Mourvedre) and it is sublime.

Clos des Papes

Current owner and winemaker Paul Vincent Avril makes some of the best Chateauneuf wine you will likely see. Having been in the family for three generations, this Estate has gained such a reputation that it is one of the most sought after red and white wines from Chateauneuf. He started learning in Burgundy and then trained at Mouton-Rothschild in Bordeaux… talk about an education. The estate has 24 parcels throughout Chateauneuf with roughly 32 hectares planted to the top three varieties Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. Generally Paul works with low yield vines, he de-stems all the fruit and ferments varieties together in old oak foudres. The wines speak for themselves.

Chateau de Beaucastel

Arguably the most well-known Estate in the Southern Rhone. Beaucastel is a triumph of a Domaine. If I may it certainly started the rise in reputation for Southern Rhone wines as a whole, and has continued to flourish year on year. Yes their wines are not cheap, but their wines are also arguably the bar that is set to measure all other Chateauneuf wines against. Having been founded in 1321… yes you read that correctly, Beaucastel has gone from strength to strength and maintains family values at the heart of its operation. Utilising all 13 grape varieties in their Tradition Chateauneuf rouge they are quintessentially Chateauneuf.

Tonight’s tasters are David, Harry, Kim & Jen.

La Bastide Saint Dominique Chateauneuf du Pape Secret de Pignan 2009

95% Grenache & 5% Mourvedre

Note: Prunes, plums and blackberry on the nose with slight hints of menthol and cherries. Smooth and textured with lots of concentration of fruit. Blackcurrants and dark cherry flavours are king. It is definitely showing a little heat and is high in alcohol but it’s not over-developed. Tannins are juicy and fine with lovely freshness from great acidity running throughout. Lovely balance and structure. A nice medium – full length finish. I would certainly start to drink up now as probably only a few years until decline hits.

Clos des Papes Chateauneuf du Pape 2009

 65% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre, 10% Syrah, 5% mix of Vaccarese, Counoise and Muscardin.

Note: Dark cherries, blackberry leaf, blackcurrants and good vegetal aromas. Smooth and luscious on the palate with excellent density. Gorgeous and fresh acidity running through the body, this is fantastic. Excellent layered fruit and vegetal notes, really powerful and really elegant. Lots of dark fruit, cherries, blackcurrants an prunes with a sumptuous and long finish. Definitely ready to drink and enjoy for the next 5 – 7 years.

Château de Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape 2009

 30% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre with 10% Syrah, 10% Counoise and the other 10% a mix of various.

Note: Blackberry, blackcurrant and black cherry aromas with pepper and damson moving through. This has some serious depth of flavour and elegance at its core. A gorgeous flavour profile of those dark fruits takes your mouth by storm and hits every single taste bud. This is a fantastic effort from Beaucastel and they’ve managed to temper the heat perfectly here. There is ample freshness and longevity with excellent structure. Medium length finish and drinking oh so well now. Certainly 4-6 years left on this gorgeous wine before it likely slows down.

La Bastide Saint Dominique Secret de Pignan 2010

95% Grenache, 5% Mourvedre.

Note: Prunes, plums, black cherries and damson on the nose, really concentrated and beautiful. Intense, layered and gorgeous texture on the palate. Great balance of fruit with driving, fine tannins, nicely embedded and giving a great kick. Lots of fruit here with nuances of blackcurrant, prunes and plums on the palate. A great wine, gorgeous acidity giving lovely freshness, just so powerful and really enjoyable. A lovely long finish to round off a stunning wine.  

Clos des Papes Chateauneuf du Pape 2010

65% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre, 10% Syrah, 5% mix of Vaccarese, Counoise and Muscardin.

Note: Raspberries, cherries, eucalyptus with garrigues and peppery notes. Full bodied, thick and just gorgeous. Powerful fruit forward wine with excellent finesse and elegance oozing from this wine. This has such personality, big, bold flavours of red fruit and great vegetal notes. Concentrated and precise there is beautiful elegance and that fruit just performs throughout. Fantastic acidity and this has years left on it. You can certainly drink now and give great pleasure (see above 😉) but this will certainly evolve for another 6-8 years at least.

Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape 2010

30% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre with 10% Syrah, 10% Counoise and the other 10% a mix of various.

Note: Extremely savoury, earthy notes on the nose. Lots of earth, wet soil and bordering on forest floor with lovely dark fruits, blackberry, prunes and plums. Really smooth on the palate with gorgeous fruit and just so creamy and luscious. Stewed fruit notes starting to creep in with dark cherries, however so elegant on the body with finesse so clear. Silky, beautiful and packed with concentrated flavour. So easy to drink and it just balances beautifully. Lovely long finish, this is sublime right now and I would definitely recommend drinking now and over the next 5-7 years.


Sufficed to say, if you like Southern Rhone wines, then obviously you know these and you know how amazing they are. If, however, you do not know Southern Rhone wines but you enjoy powerful and elegant, strong flavoured wines with a smooth body… this is really for you. These wines are just fantastic and all of them deserve your attention. Don’t get me wrong they are not cheap but they are also worth it. Certainly wines for a special occasion or get together to share with friends.

The scores:

Secret de Pignan 2009 – 94 Points

Clos des Papes 2009 – 95 Points

Château de Beacastel 2009 – 97 Points

Secret de Pignan 2010 – 96 Points

Clos des Papes 2010 – 98 Points

Château de Beaucastel 2010 - 98

Many thanks for reading one and all… as you can see… some really great wines.

Apologies again that I have not managed to get the Fells tasting out yet but in all honesty its been a busy couple of months and I promise I will get it out as soon as I can!!

We will be back soon with hopefully the Fells tasting but if not then certainly an Up from The Cellar or another 60th Tasting 😊

Harry Vernau

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