Saturday, 25 January 2014

Unpretentious and true: Châteauneuf-du-Pape Clos du Calvaire #SukasaStyle Review

Old vines at Vignobles Mayard
The wines of the Southern Rhône are amongst the most loved on the planet, and of those the wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape are iconic. They are unarguably amongst the favourites of your humble SukasaStyle reviewer. Yes, you can buy less expensive wines from Gigondas, Vacqueyras and Côtes du Rhône Villages (Rasteau in particular) that are very good in quality and excellent in value but they simply aren’t Châteauneuf-du-Pape. 

Having said that, as any wine lover understands any Châteauneuf isn’t cheap but by that measure, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Clos du Calvaire is as unpretentious and as value laden as they come. 


Clos du Calvaire 
We heartily recommend it for purchasing and drinking now and for cellaring for the coming decade. Consider the 2010 vintage of Châteauneuf’s in general as the one that is suitable for aging. It is a better value that the blockbuster 2005 vintage.

CHATEAUNEUF DU PAPE CLOS DU CALVAIRE | LCBO 296855 | 750 mL bottle 
Price $ 29.95 | Made in: Rhône, France By: Domaine Du Pere Pape Vignobles Mayard
15.5% Alcohol/Vol. 
Style: Full-bodied & Smooth 
Sugar Content: 5 g/L | Sweetness Descriptor: D – Dry


** It is aged in cement or stainless steel tanks for 12 months following vinification so ‘over-oaking’ is not an issue **


Tasting Notes
This is a generous wine that reminds you of a variety of berries, some liquorice and a touch of leather and cocoa on the nose. The structure with moderate tannins makes it a wine to savour slowly and the body is rich while the finish is velvety smooth. What may come as a surprise is the alcohol content, coming in at 15.5% which reminds one of Nappa Valley Cabernet or Barossa Valley Shiraz. 

For the 2010 vintage the Grenache/Syrah/Cinsault combination comes in at 70/20/10 ratio. The question remains, can that combination continue?

Some think that it cannot. As Master of Wine Jancis Robinson recently wrote, regarding Châteauneuf and alcohol citing Michel Chapoutier who:


was asked by the buyer for The Wine Society whether he really thought the future of Châteauneuf-du-Pape could lie with the Grenache grape when it makes such high-alcohol wines. Chapoutier impishly suggested the best course would be to allow producers to add water to their wines.Pausing briefly to consider the signature grape of the northern Rhône, he volunteered: “The southern Rhône is too warm for Syrah. Of course, we don’t want to reduce the alcohol by physical means. If you use reverse osmosis to reduce the alcohol, you sacrifice some of the aromas. When you physically concentrate the grape must, you concentrate everything – including less desirable aspects. So how about simply adding back the water lost by evaporation? If you harvest on the basis of the ripeness of tannins in Grenache, you risk having wines at 15.5 or 16 per cent alcohol at least. We experimented and found that adding water did actually result in better wines.” (bold emphasis added)

Sacrebleu! SukasaStyle hopes it does not come to Châteauneuf avec l'eau
Alternative label

In the meantime, enjoy this value Châteauneuf-du-Pape Clos du Calvaire with beef carpaccio with parmigiano reggiano (as recommended by the winery) or our short list of hearty dish options: Stews and Casseroles, Bangers and Mash, Haggis (homage to Robbie Burn’s day), Chilli, Steak and Kidney Pie, or Roast Beef.


Decant before serving and serve at 17oC if possible. Cellar till 2023.

Sukasa Stars: 4.6 out of 5
Quality Price Ratio: Very Good 


Arijit Banik for SukasaStyle

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