Day Trip to Châteauneuf-du-Pape
While our Viking Cruise ship was docked in Avignon, Viking organized an afternoon tour to the Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine region, known in France as one of the appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) regions. Here, in one of the hottest wine regions in France, you get wines with wonderfully warm and spicy aromas such as cinnamon, cloves, and freshly roasted coffee.
The name "Châteauneuf-du-Pape" means "the pope's new castle" but the name does not allude to the papal palace. The town was probably already called Châteauneuf when the popes arrived. In 1893 the villagers, realizing the marketing potential of the name, added "du-Pape". Only one tower remains intact of the summer palace. Time, religious wars, and finally a German bomb during World War II have seen to that. But it is still quite impressive as is the stunning view over the vineyards and the river Rhône.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape coat of armsImage is the property of Heraldry of the World
Vinyard Waiting For Warmer Weather
The vines are pruned for removal of the unwanted wood. For those of you who do not understand why the vines are pruned, we suggest that you visit Pruning Grapeviness for a short explanation of why it is necessary.
Those are the (in the Dentelles de Montmirail mountains) and Mont Ventoux (just to the east of the Dentelles de Montmirail), as we looked east from the vineyard.
As shown in the above images, the vineyards are distinctively rocky, and these rocks are useful to the vines because they keep the daytime heat "in" the soil for a longer period of time, which keeps the roots warm overnight. This entire area has a unique clay sub-structure, and the combination of the heat retaining rocks, on top of this clay structure, produces a unique variety of grapes.
Castle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape
In 1317, one year after his election, Pope John XXII ordered the construction of a castle at the top of the hill above the village of
Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The castle was destroyed by the German Army, as it retreated from this area in August 1944.
Click here to read a good Wiki Article about this castle.
Celeste and I posing just in front of the Castle ruins. This castle has been built, partially destroyed, and rebuilt a number of times since the Roman era. The final destruction occured during WW2 when the German Army garrison blew up the building because they were storing ammunition there.
Wine Tasting Class
Celeste and I are learning about the famous wines grown in this area. Touristy? Yeah, but the guy
knew his wines, and the area's history, so in the end it was well worth the experience.
When you become aware that there are over 320 wine companies in this region, you realize how important these vineyards are.
Did I mention the types of wine grapes grown in this area? We had been told at the wine tasting, but when I Googled it, I was amazed at how many types are grown in this region. I've provided you with a link to the "Wine Searcher" website for each wine, because if you are interested in wine like I am, you will want to know more about these types. Whenever "Wine Searcher" did not have information on a type, I've linked it to Wiki or "Wine Folly". Click any grape name below to be taken to a page that will provide you with an in depth description.
One Must Swish Each Taste
Doing the obligatory swishing of the wine, preparing for my next bite of cheese.
Anyone can taste wine - the Wine Folly website tells us, all you need is a glass of wine and your brain and follow these 4 steps;
1) Look: A visual inspection of the wine under neutral lighting
2) Smell: Identify aromas through orthonasal olfaction (e.g. breathing through your nose)
3) Taste: Assess both the taste structure (sour, bitter, sweet) and flavors derived from retronasal olfaction (e.g. breathing with the back of your nose)
4) Think/Conclude: Develop a complete profile of a wine that can be stored in your long term memory.
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