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7 Châteauneuf du Pape 2009 white and cheeses

Châteauneuf du Pape is a great terroir for white too due to the diversity of its terroirs : the limestone mother plate, rich and deep clayous underground favours fresh balance in spite of the power provided by the sun !

Vintage 2009 : Globaly the spring and early summer were quite fresh, the last rainfalls happened late july. August was very hot, temperature reached 38° to 40°  (104 F) locally. Septembre was perfect, hot and dry, equinoctial rains  were soft. 2009 was not too windy (Mistral in the Rhône valley).

Production : Low yields : 30% smaller than usual. A "winemaker’s vintage" where the ability to pick up grape in the very best moment according to the phenolic maturity was crucial. They had to be flexible and patient : 2009 is characteristic for its concentration. « Northern » grapes (Syrah, Roussanne) sufferted – late ripening grapes like Mourvèdre, Bourboulenc and Clairette produced exceptional wines. Year of the Grenache !

Blind Tasting : march 11th 2012

Clos du Caillou cuvée les Safres winemaker : Sylvie Vacheron – grapes varieties : 60% Roussanne, 20 % Grenache blanc, 20% Clairette – terroirs : Pignan and Bédines – maturation 9 months mainly in small casks –  malolactic fermentation blocked – Alcohol : 14,5%. Pale gold, shinning. Oaky scents followed by fresh fragrances like sage, flower, fresh almond. Large mouth, fat marked by oak maturation, Exuberant aromas of yellow fruits (peach…), almond balanced by a spicy freshness. Creamy finish, quite long.

Domaine La Solitude winemaker : Florent Lançon – grapes varieties : Grenache blanc : 30% – Clairette : 30% – Roussanne : 25% – Bourboulenc : 15% – Blocked malolactic fermentation – maturation 8 months on  lees with bâtonnage, Roussanne in new barrels. Alcohol : 13,5%. Pale gold, very shinning. The nose shows a strong minerality, crushed leaves, lime, peach stone, and a hint of yellow fruits. Fluid attack with a lovely mellow texture. Mineral aromas  and lime are blending with honey flavours then anise, frangipani and yellows fruits notes in a juicy powerfull structure, well balanced with finesse. Light aoky notes. 

Domaine de Montpertuis winemaker : Paul Jeune – grapes varieties : Clairette : 30%, Clairette rose : 20%, Grenache blanc : 20%, Bourboulenc : 20%, Roussanne : 10%, Terroir : Mont Pertuis – 4 months vinification and maturation in vats. Alcohol : 13,5%. Pale gold, shinning. The nose is frankly on honey, almond flowers, stone of peach, pear.  Fluid attack on honey sweet followed by fresh  and fine green notes, then lilac. This wine has a nice mineral limestone like grain that going on well with the fatness ; fresh peanut and white flower aromas in mouth. Fresh and acute finish on verbena flavour, very long.

Domaine Raymond Usséglio winemaker : Raymond Usségliograpes varieties : Grenache blanc : 40%, Clairette : 20%, Roussanne : 20% – Bourboulenc : 20% – Blocked malolactic fermentation, 10% matured in oak, 90% in vats, for 6 months on lees. Alcohol : 14,5%. Pale gold, shinning. The nose is quite oaked with immediately exotic notes of dry banana, crystallized pineapple and a floral touch like bluebell. Round attack with a fine acidity underpinned by a quite exciting salty sensation . Exuberant aromas of yellow fruits reinforced by oaky notes now in the front.  A bit burning. Fresh finish on torrefaction aromas.

Domaine Durieu winemaker : Vincent Durieu – grapes varieties : 70% : roussanne, 10% : Grenache blanc, 10% : bourboulenc, 10% : clairette – maturation 6 mois in stainless steel vats – Blocked malolactic fermentation – terroir : Cabrières. Alcohol : 13,5%. Gold colour with green hues, very shinning. Very mineral nose, squeezed vegetal notes, almond, green freschness. Round attack, this wine kickly shows a slender fluid mineral sensation. Evolves on dry fruit aromas (almond, hazelnut), flowers , green apple  to finish on honey notes. Nice freschness, in a sober and intense style.

Domaine La Barrochewinemaker : Julien Barrot – non commercialized cuvée grapes varieties : Clairette : 70%, and 30% Grenache blanc, Bourboulenc and Roussanne, terroir : Pialon or Pied Long, maturation in vats. Pale gold, shinning. Graceful nose with a beautiful white fruit like peach and litchi, menthol, almond, wisteria and wax. Suave mouth without exces of fatness, cristalilzed pear, apple,  bitter almond, marzipan . Mellow mouth with a prominent mineral grain, a touch exotic fruit then pear liquor, fresh finish, marvellous balance,  quite long.

Domaine de Bois de Boursan winemaker : Jean Paul Versino – grapes varieties : Grenache blanc : 35% Clairette : 35% – Roussanne : 15% – Bourboulenc : 15%. Blocked malolactic fermentation – matured in oak for 20%, 80% in vats, for 6 months. Alcohol : 14%. Pale gold with amber hue. Buttery nose followed by yellow fruits scents. Pleasant meaty attack on stone of peach notes then rancid butter, brown spices  Tropical fruit aromas are rising next with a quit "hot" burning sensation. Green apple on finish with a salty hint.

Conclusion : 2009 is a powerful vintage, winemakers were able to take advantage of this type of climate, offering wines in a straight style and a sober aromatic definition like Domaine Durieu, La Barroche and Montpertuis : in these case mineralité is the main quality. Others made them wine through a light oak maturation  as Domaine la Solitude, delicate and elegant. Clos du Caillou and Raymon Usséglio vinified more powerful wines, fattier, more aromatic, showing a more exuberant style. The choice of varieties and blendings prove various results : Domaine Durieu (with 70% Roussanne) without oak maturatione shows a totaly different profile as Clos du Caillou (with 60% Roussanne) matured in oak – Clairette, variety that should be more recognised, gives the identity to the most of these cuvée producing floral and fresh notes.

Matching Châteauneuf blanc and cheeses : 14 various cheeses were gathered : very fresh goat cheese, creamy goat cheese , medium dry goat cheese, fresh ewe cheese from Lozère, medium dry ewe cheese from Corse, old Comté, Gaperon, old Mimolette, Camembert, Brie de Meaux, Maroille, Munster, Bleu d’Auvergne, Reblochon.

It was impossible for us to sample 98 options : 7 wines x 14 cheeses, however unanimous opinions for the 7 tasters appeared, several trends showed up to provide fine harmonies and characteristic dissonances :

  • Non oak wines were always prefered on cheeses except on Bleu d’Auvergne where wine "matured in oak" like R.Usséglio and Clos des Caillou offered a better association.
  • Ewe and goat cheese were always best prefered for its perfect association.
  • Comté and la Mimolette were excellent on wines undepinning more sweet notes.
  • Few unexpected good surprises like Maroille and Gaperon (cow milk with garlic !) were very pleasant.
  • Brie and Camembert gave violent sensation in mouth, Munster had a too stron personality !

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