Off the bat, let me start by saying, at $40+ this kind of wine doesn’t come to my tasting glass and table too often. This one landed there through extreme generosity of dear friends. (Thanks Darlene and Don!)
Let me be clear: the price of the wine alone doesn’t inspire awe, but the 60 year old vines, more hands-on work and longer cellar-care that are reflected in it do. And so the story begins.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape, an appellation in the Southern Rhone Valley in Southern France, takes its name from the Pope’s New Castle. History tells us that during the 1300s, for some interesting reasons, seven popes resided in the nearby Avignon, and the second of them built the castle that breathed new life into the village around it. The castle itself got abandoned soon after the papacy moved back to Rome, but the village and its countryside dotted with vineyards persists to this day, to wine lovers’ delight.
Complex local history possibly affected complexity in the local wine production and its laws. While some other French appellations approve very few grape varieties, 18 (up from 13 that were listed up until 2009) are allowed in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC (Appellation d’origine contrôlée). And some famous producers make wines that include all of them. At the same time.
Most present of the 18 are Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. Perfume imparting Syrah was mentioned as the predecessor of the now more widely popular Shiraz in one of the previous posts, while a darling of hot weather, spicy Grenache was named in another. Together with Mourvèdre – a finicky powerhouse that needs to get to at least 13% of alcohol to showcase its flavours – they each deserve more than just a mention. But I know that you are anxious to hear about the star of this story.
Domaine de Cristia produces several wines, with today’s kicking off its Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC line-up. The 2012 growing season brought above average wines for the region, while it was exceptionally good for Domaine de Cristia. Finally (drumroll) – the main attraction.
Domaine de Cristia Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2012 poured deep garnet red with purple undertones. Luscious blackberry and ripe black cherry led aromas whiffed with herbs and faint vanilla. Tastes abound with stewed dark fruit, cocoa, silky tannins and well balanced acidity, all leading to a long finish. It paired beautifully with duck confit served with a spiced parsnip and sweet potato mash.