Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Chateauneuf du Pape - Cairanne

The second part of our holiday was in Visan, a great village we discovered in 2016 in the Vaucluse region of France. You can read about the village and surrounding area in my post last July - Visan to Chateauneuf du Pape.

This year we focused on wine and visiting a few of the named villages. As you'll read last year we discovered white Chateauneuf du Pape at our tasting with Cellier des Princes. A new wine for us as here in the UK we have only seen red wine from this famous village.

Last year I took a bottle of white home to share with friends, unfortunately I didn't get to enjoy it as that was the night I ended up in hospital with broken legs, another bit of reading Stratford Weekend. According to our friends it was a very nice glass of white !

Being as we were quite close to Cellier des Princes we re-visited with the aim of buying another bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape blanc. I was devasted to discover it had all gone and no more had, as yet, been bottled. I was on my crutches and explained about how I had missed the tasting last year, the lovely lady in the caveau searched all the display shelves (they have a boutique gift wrapped area as well as cases/bottles) and found the very last bottle, I was so so pleased.

Since returning home I have enjoyed my bottle with a very good friend - we both loved it and it is on my to buy again list if ever available.

A pale gold yellow colour with glistening highlights, this superb blanc has a nose of honey, white stone fruit with a hint of blossom.

It's full of crisp white fruit in flavour with a hint of minerality and a subtle elegant touch of herbaceousness.

Whilst at Cellier des Princes we did a little shopping - well it would be rude not to. Both Hubby and I like bottled wine but last year bought a bag of wine from Domaine Jaume in Vinsobres. It was superb, opened over Christmas, so nice to know each glass poured the same, the wine did not change and we could just have one glass without opening a bottle. That being said we decided to buy a bag of Merlot, it has been opened and still has half in it. It's good to know that half will be perfect when next poured.

Answering the question bag or bottle - it depends on why you are buying the wine. The obvious reason is when you'll be drinking it, a bag is perfect if sharing with others whereas a bottle is more suited to a meal. A bag suits the opposite scenario too, just one glass keeping the remainder unchanged. Many large caveau have large pumps (like the petrol ones) and locals arrive with their plastic containers and fill up for not many euros; Chateauneuf du Pape just 11 euros for 5 litres ! Admittedly it doesn't keep but many people buy their wine this way as it's cheaper due to no bottling costs, and saves on the recycling.

Whilst at Cellier des Princes we also bought Domaine de Ju Ventoux. We have always enjoyed Ventoux wine and now having been to the top of Mont Ventoux it was a must to bring home.

Domaine du Ju Ventoux is made with 50% Syrah, 30% Grenache and 20% Carignan so this red should be on the spice side of Cotes du Rhone, smooth with plenty of blackcurrants, we're looking forward to it.

We also purchased two bottles of Vin de Pays - you can't go wrong with general wine when in such an incredible wine region. For the red the grapes are removed from their stems and are in the vat for 6 to 8 days.

A predominantly Grenache blend with Syrah, Caradoc and Carignan also used. The tasting notes suggest it will be full of cherries and red fruit and is best enjoyed while it's young.

The Vin de Pays Blanc spends 6 months in the vat. This wine is 90% Grenache Blanc and 10% Sauvignon Blanc - sounds perfect to me. I'm hoping it will have the exotic fruits and white blossoms suggested along with a crispness.

The tasting notes say this can be kept for 2-3 years - not sure I can resist that long.

Gigondas is a named village known by many, it is high on the wine list for producing superb wine, many say as good if not (in some cases) better than Chateauneuf du Pape. We visited the village and enjoyed a lovely lunch: we chose a small typically french bistro but fine dining was available offering a three course lunch for 90 euro.

We did enjoy a glass of Gigondas red with lunch but didn't visit any of the caves or domaines as we had purchased this red at Cellier des Princes. A wine made with 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 5% Mouvedre and 5% Cinsault with all the vines being over 40 years old. It is fermented for 15 to 20 days and then in the vat for 8 months.

Hubby enjoyed this when our friends came to dinner, I did have a small sip but was happily enjoying my Chateauneuf du Pape. A rich deep red, full bodied with an abundance of dark fruit. It had a subtle hint of spice, some tannin and a long finish. Although we have yet to find a Cotes du Rhone we don't like some, and this is one, are certainly richer, rounder and more enjoyable.

On the way to Cellier des Princes we passed through a couple of the Cotes du Rhone named villages: Rateau and Cairanne. Wine producers everywhere and as it was early September plenty of tractors pulling wagons of grapes, such a great sight in the late summer sun.

We called in at the Co-operative in Cairanne; this seemed the best way to discover each appellation as our knowledge of individual producers is limited so deciding which Domaine to call at is a bit of a mine field. The caveau in Cairanne had all the named villages as well as it's own village appellation.

Within each village, and appellation, the wine varies in depth, tannin level, spice - by vintage, by aging and by terroir so visiting the co-operatives and enjoying a degustation with their knowledgeable staff is a great way to learn more and try the different wines.

Here in the UK wine is labelled with the supplier as the producer so it is difficult to find out who actually produced the wine. This is something I am keen to learn more about.

We opted for Camille Cayran Cairanne in both red, white and rose. Rose is not our usual choice but we were invited to a bbq at our friends and as with many french people living in the warmer climate rose is a favourite.

Cairanne rouge is Syrah, Grenache, Mouredvre, Carignan, full of dark fruits, soft tannin and a long finish.

Cairanne blanc is Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Rousanne, Marsanne and Bourboulenc, a blend giving tropical crisp flavours.

These two have been laid up in our garage - Maison Hearnden's overflow celler which is a almost needing its own overflow. That said I'm not sure when these will be enjoyed so actual tasting notes may take a while.

Another wine happily waiting in our cellar is a Plan de Dieu - literally translated as God's Plan which is quite apt as I cannot remember where this was purchased and so have little idea of notes, therefore it will be discovered and enjoyed when fate decides.

It's always nice to have something that offers a surprise - a votre santé

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