January 15th, 2010 – Chateauneuf du Pape and How to Choose Your Favourite Wine

Ah, Friday…and back to the cellar after a long week! Time to pick a favourite…Chateauneuf du Pape. In this case, the 2000 Domaine de Beaurenard. Oh my…it is a classic! Still good dark red colour; an explosively powerful nose of earthy cherries that is dominated by provencal herbs…same mix of fruit and herbs, medium body and still some tannins. It will easily last another five years.

You have probably guessed by now, but Chateauneuf du Pape is one of my favourite wines (if not my favourite). But it got me thinking about how that happened.

Now stick with me…it is more complicated than you think! Because when building my cellar, I didn’t have the luxury (or money) to try most of the wines before adding them. I picked a wine reviewer I trusted — in this case Robert Parker — and found those that provided a balance between value (less than $40), high scores (88  and above) and longevity (able to evolve for at least 5 years).

The result, for me, was a lot of Chateauneuf du Papes, starting with the 1989/1990 vintages.

I was quite pleased with this, building up the cellar with all these highly rated wines.  But then one day, it dawned on me…I had never actually tasted a Chateauneuf du Pape!

What if I didn’t like them? What would I do?

Luckily, this wasn’t a problem…I loved them, although they are not for everyone (that provencal herb taste — called garrigue by the French — can be a bit overwhelming to some).

So the lesson I learned was to try wines before building up a cellar. I would recommend the same to everyone else in the same position before they end up with a cellar full of wines they might not like.



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