You see “CDP” most of the time, and have been wondering what kind of wine it is. Many people, including wine lovers, except for French speaking ones, usually try to avoid pronouncing it loudly. Yet those who have the encounter with this “CDP” wine, formally Châteauneuf-du-Pape, are often not shy in promoting it.
The region is Southeastern France, a small appellation north of Avignon at South Rhone. It is one of the earliest, declared in 1929, official wine appellations in the country. Châteauneuf-du-Pape could translate to “The Pope’s new castle”, indicating direct influence of papal history to the viticulture (visit wiki for more information). While reading the history and development of this unique AOC is enjoying, but it is the very complex nature of this wine that I would like to share with you.
Blending different grape varieties is common in wine making. In fact, the famous Bordeaux is almost always a blend among these 4 varieties – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. In Châteauneuf-du-Pape, they are not limited to just 4 but a total of 13 varieties (amended to 18 in 2009)! This is perhaps the most varieties permitted by specific law in all the wine regions in the world.
The appellation produces mostly red wine. Although the law does not specify any dominant variety, Grenache is used by most producers as the main grape. Other commonly used grapes are Syrah and Mourverde. The remaining red varieties are Muscardin, Cinsaut, Counoise, Vaccarese, Picpoul Noir and Terret Noir. White varieties are Bourboulenc, Clairette, Grenache Blanc and Roussanne. So, this is how complicated it is!
Even if you could pronounce Châteauneuf-du-Pape perfectly, I bet most still can’t pronounce all the varieties in the above paragraph. But I’m not here to bash you with names and pronunciations. We need to go back to the taste, the very unique and complicated one!
The wine was 2009 Chateau de la Gardine, sold to me by Pieroth agent in his site visit tasting. It was quite nice when I tasted it before ordering. But the ultimate satisfaction came when paring it with the cuisine from my home country.
Varieties vs Spices
I was contemplating between German Riesling or Italian Moscato for our dinner, as we were going to prepare Malaysian Nasi Lemak and curry dishes. But when I was cooking, preparing all the spices, the picture of all kind of grapes suddenly flashed in my mind! Why not the Chateau de la Gardine that just came in? I would have two types of complex personalities working with each other! So it was set, 2009 Chateau de La Gardine Châteauneuf-du-Pape vs Nasi Lemak, Beef Rendang, Sotong (Squid) Sambal and Chicken Satay.
Initially, the wine opened with nose of jammy fruit, not particularly impressive. But I knew about this during the sales tasting. And I also anticipated the release of its complicated characters later in the dinner. Thus, the wine was opened 2 hours before our guests arrived.
The Syrah (10%) and Muscardin (5%) had managed to work themselves through ripe jammy fruity Grenache (70%), providing spices and floral bouquet , while the Mourverde (15%) maintained its elegant structure. All these paired gorgeously with the rich Beef Rendang, Sotong Sambal and Chicken Satay.
It was a new discovery for me. I had try matching Chinese Roasted Pork and Goose with Châteauneuf-du-Pape and they worked well. I have also been advised to match the unique wine with hearty braised food which I believe it’s going to work. Matching curry spices was a logical attempt, and a successful one. They principle learnt here is that the complex nature wine needs a complicated food companion, to find the complicated match!