Chateauneuf-du-Pape: The Heinz 57 of Wine

57 Varieties, or Heinz 57 for short, is commonly used to describe an object consisting of an unquantifiable list of ingredients.  Naturally, the “57 Varieties” label on a bottle of ketchup could be misconstrued to imply that the contents comprise 57 varieties of tomatoes.  Well, at least that’s what I thought when I was a kid.

As of 2009, 18 varieties of vinifera are allowed to comprise both red and white Chateauneuf-du-Pape blends.  However, red wines are dominated by Grenache and are typically blended with Syrah and Mourvedre (GSM).

Not particularly a fan of Grenache, I have hit and miss experiences with Chateauneuf-du-Pape mostly due to my cursory knowledge of the appellation.  Having read glowing reports of the 2007 vintage, I attended the “2007 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Super Cuvees” seminar at the Boston Wine Expo to expand my mind a bit.

Alain Junguenet “Mr Chateauneuf-du-Pape” and John Junguenet presented an educational and entertaining seminar, complete with several winemakers from the AOC.  The offered an interesting and diverse selection of 10 wines.  Below is the list of wines that we tasted with my favorites in blue.

Domain Moulin-Tacussel, Hommage à Henry Tacussel 93% Grenache & 7% Syrah, closed, some spice, high acid, fine tannin, red fruit/fruity, short finish

Château Fortia, Reserve Speciale 70% Syrah & 30% Mourvedre, leather/underbrush (Bordeaux-like), floral, black berry fruit, high acid, mild tannin, medium weight/finish, smooth

Cuvee du Vatican, Reserve Sixtine 55% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 15% Mourvedre, new oak/modern style, ripe plum, acidic, fine tannin, “big/in-your-face”, lay it down for a few years

Domain de la Charbonniere, Cuvee Vielles Vignes 70% Grenache & 30% Mourvedre, black fruit, smoke, tobacco, medium tannin, medium finish

Domain Pierre Usseglio & Fils, Cuvee de Mon Aieul 95% Grenache, 5% Syrah, cola, ripe fruit, white pepper, high acid, low tannin

Le Vieux Donjon, Reserve Personnelle 90% Grenache, 10% Syrah, pepper, tobacco, spice, silky smooth, velvety, low tannin (leave ripe Grenache stems)

Bosquet des Papes, Chante le Merle Vielles Vignes 88% Grenache, 8% Mourvedre, 4% Syrah, smokey, pepper, tobacco

Domain de la Cote de l’Ange, Vielles Vignes 90% Grenache, 5% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre, barnyard, leather, medium acid, smooth/velvet, medium acid, old style (drink now)

Mas de Boislauzon, Cuvee du Quet 80% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre, tight, ripe fruit, acidic/tannic, spicy

Domaine Olivier Hillaire, Les Petits Pieds d’Armand 100% Grenache, complex/ripe fruit, pepper, smooth, medium body/finish

(As a bonus, the unfined and unfiltered 2006 Les Cailloux pictured is 65% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre, 12% Syrah and 3% Cinsault.  It displayed hints of ripe cherry, vanilla, white pepper and smoked meats with medium body with a slightly long, mildly tannic finish.  And rest assured that it was happily paired with Chateaubriand, Red Roasted Potatoes and Asparagus.)

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