Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge

banneret-chateauneuf-du-pape.jpgWinery: Domaine du Banneret 
Appellation: Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Designation: AOC

Site: From 8 parcels covering approximately 3.5 hectares of land. This diversity of sites means complexity in the wine - sandy plots give more aromatics, stony plots more ripeness, etc. Output is a mere 27 hectoliters per hectare, from vines averaging “very old.”

Grapes: The typical cuvée is about 60% Grenache, from vines averaging 100 years of age, 10% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre, plus 20% of the rest of the totality of the famous Symphonie de 13 Cepages, everything co-fermented together in cement vats for 3 weeks or so. In case you were wondering, the other grapes include: Muscardin, Vaccarèse, Terret Noir, Cinsault, Picpoul Noir,  and Counoise (the black); Grenache Blanc, Clairette (Blanche and Rose), Bourboulenc, Roussane, Picardan (the white). Add it up - you get 11 plus the first three makes 14 cepages, not 13, and that’s not even counting the two types of Clairette - Blanche and Rose. Maybe I’m just bad at math. 

Fermentation and Aging: Manual harvest of fully ripe grapes. Fermented in cement vats for 3 weeks, whole clusters, no destemming, no selected yeast (all natural), pump-overs are fewer than with many estates because the are less necessary with the looser caps provided by no destemming. Elevage in used barrels from Bordeaux and Burgundy, some of very impressive provenance indeed (Domaine de Romanée Conti, for example). The age of the vines is ultimately what allows the full use of stems in the fermentation with the resultant freshness, ripe tannins, and incredible age-worthiness (30 years or so is the amount of time the Vidals believe their wines will improve in the cellar. I’ll find out in about 25 years whether they are correct).

Notes: Here at Domaine du Banneret, everything is done by hand - from picking the grapes, to applying the capsules and labels (brush with glue). This is the ultimate boutique winery, producing a mere 800 cases of their one wine, the benchmark Domaine du Banneret Châteauneuf-du-pape.