The appellation of Châteauneuf-du-Pape has seen some criticism directed towards it in recent times – the wines can be concentrated, dense and have high alcohols – attributes that have seen both favour and scorn metered out in equal measure. Recently, Andrew Jefford noted in Issue 43 of The World of Fine Wine:
“Châteauneuf is not in any sense a reasonable, classically proportioned wine. Anyone who lives near Avignon through the summer and then winter will know that this is a land of extremes and excess, and it breeds grand, spectacular, entirely unreasonable and excessive wines that love to run away off the leash.”
This I think captures the debate and to an extent the region, although I would argue that what is reasonable and classically proportioned in wine needs to be guided by the climate and terroir of the region, which in Châteauneuf’s case is warm to hot and windy. I remain untroubled by the flavour excesses of warmer climater viticultural regions, but nor do I desire them to the exclusion of cooler climate regions and styles. A rare bird perhaps.
This particular wine from Xavier is a good one. Their 2009 Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a blend of 55% grenache, 35% mourvèdre and 10% syrah. The wine has aromatics that remind of milk chocolate, blackberries from the top of the bush, earth, yeast and cherry pie. The palate retains these aromatics with the addition of a sweet cherry note. The wine achieves balance in the glass and there is medium length on the finish. Ready to drink now, this is an approachable Châteauneuf-du-Pape that will reward your interest.