Saturday Tasting – Da Pope’s In Da House! Chateauneuf du Pape

Its quite rare to name a wine region after a real estate. It all began with a slap in the popes face… The Chateauneuf du Pape region was created because a then superpower French king had a bit of a dispute with the Vatican. It resulted in the popes hanging out for about 70 years in the town of Avignon, drinking rather good full bodied reds.Poor old Boniface VIII misjudged the situation. He thought that just because he happens to be the head of the Catholic Church he can threaten the French king. Well, Philip (the Fair) IV of France had a different opinion. The conflict was about the usual questions: who-gets-to-appoint-whom-and-who-shall-get-the-money? Business as usual, the core of international politics does not change. The letters they exchanged were getting more and more hostile.

Finally in 1308 Philip decided to sort out the situation in his own way. He sent his faithful, and rather multifunctional chancellor/hitman Guillaume de Nogaret to Rome, to explain his point to the Pope. After Mr Nogaret literally abducted the pope and slapped him in the face a couple of times, the poor old man had to reconsider his opinion about a few diplomatic issues. After Boniface`s death, Clement V, who accidentally happened to be French, and as a Frenchman, loyal to his king moved the whole papal court to Avignon, in the heart of the southern Rhone. The king could keep an eye on them. The popes stayed around for more than 70 years, and for the lack of power they were compensated with excellent wines.

The term Chateauneuf du Pape refers to John XXII`s new summer palace, that was slightly cooler than the neighbouring regions. As we know that the area is warm enough for scorpions, we can really understand why the pope valued the pre-aircon chill.

The region was the first to gain AOC status in 1923. To commemorate the popes, all their wines are filled in bottles ornamented with the papal tiara. The wines are planted in a former riverbed, in plots of land with massive pebbles instead of soil. There are 13 permitted grape varietals for red wines: Cinsault, Counoise, Grenache Noire, Mourvedre, Muscardin, Picpoul Noir, Syrah, Terret Noir and Vaccarese. It is very rare to find all 13 of them in the blend. Most of the Chateauneufs are great Grenaches spiced with a bit of this and that…

Come and have a taste of our great new Chateauneuf du Pape red from Domaine Durieu today, on Borough Market.

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