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Chateauneuf-du-Pape is one of the great appellations on the southern Rhone - and undoubtedly by far the most famous. The approximately 3200 hectares of vineyards produce almost exclusively powerful to heavy red wines, which ideally must be counted among the greatest wines in the world.
© Coll. Fédération des Producteurs de Châteauneuf-du-Pape

For all the wines of the region, i.e. also for the few white ones (rosé does not exist under the appellation of origin), a whole 13 grape varieties are permitted, but a large part of the production consists predominantly and sometimes entirely of Grenache, which occupies around 70% of the vineyard area. It is to this grape that the wines owe their legendary fullness, their power and their beguiling juiciness. Pure Grenache bottlings can be stunning, but for the most part, red Chateauneuf-du-Pape benefits from the addition of other varieties - most notably Syrah and Mourvedre - which give the wines extra backbone, freshness, grip and complexity.

This is more true today than ever before. Because, of course, climate change does not stop at Chateauneuf-du-Pape. The increased temperatures ensure that the Grenache, which is already prone to high sugar production and thus corresponding alcohol content, produces even more powerful and fatter wines. The much-vaunted suppleness and fullness threaten to slide into plumpness, heat and breadth. This is where countermeasures have to be taken.

And many producers seem to be succeeding amazingly well. Those who have withdrawn their favour from Chateauneuf-du-Pape in view of the significantly increased alcohol levels are missing out. Because the best wines still combine power and subtlety the way they always have. As exhausting as mediocre Chateauneuf-du-Pape can be, the successful examples are magnificent. One is regularly amazed at how beguilingly juicy and spicy, how immensely complex, deep-bodied and often elegant even the most powerful representatives of this appellation can be. Whoever gets these wines in the glass does not waste a thought on the alcohol content.

Incidentally, this also applies to the far less well-known white wines, which account for only about 7% of the total production. The whites, made mainly from Roussanne, Grenache Blanc and Clairette, are often somewhat lighter and lower in alcohol than the reds, but for the most part still powerful. At the same time, the best wines surprise us with an astonishing freshness, precision, depth and finesse. We were sceptical ourselves about what to expect from the white wines - and in the end we were amazed at how much pleasure we had tasting them.

We tasted well over 200 wines for this BEST OF in the last few weeks, of which we present the best here. If some of the region's top wines are missing, it is not because we have forgotten them; unfortunately not all producers accepted our invitation. Links to all the wines with detailed descriptions as well as their producers can be found at the end of each list.

BEST OF Chateauneuf du Pape Chateauneuf-du-Pape rouge 2019

BEST OF Chateauneuf du Pape Chateauneuf-du-Pape rouge 2018