My trial of Lidl’s range of famous French wines without the famous price tags continued with this offering from the Rhône valley (see Vin de Bourgogne Chablis for the start of this trial and La Châsse Côtes du Rhône Reserve for comments on the Rhône region).
Here are the key facts:
1. Châteauneuf du Pape is a village in the Rhône valley. It is one of several that have earned themselves a big reputation in the world of wine.
2. It is so-named because the Popes lived there in the fourteenth century, but Châteauneuf roughly translates as ‘Newcastle’. Doesn’t sound quite so glamorous now does it?*
3. Whites are made, but reds are a much more common sight. They will have at least 40% grenache, but numerous other grapes are permitted, giving lots of scope for different blends.
Many wine drinkers will have heard of Châteauneuf du Pape, and will probably also know that it doesn’t usually come cheap. Perhaps due in part to the reputation, prices usually start around the £15 mark. Lidl have managed to knock £2.50 off that with this example. But at what cost?
I opened my mind (and the bottle) and poured. My nose could just have easily been hovering over a pan of red fruits busy stewing to make a summer pudding. Intoxicating and rather encouraging!
The summer pudding analogy has to be put to one side as you begin the sampling. After all, you wouldn’t usually put pepper or oak barrels any where near one of those, but that’s what you’ve got with this Châteauneuf. Sadly, those flavours lack the punch and richness of that fruit. But I will also pay this tipple the compliments of being ‘smoothed’ by the gentle oaking, and also of having soft, subtle tannins which are sympathetically balanced by a touch of acidity.
A good wine this is, an excellent one it is not. It may be cheap for a wine from such a renowned village, but the cheapest house in that village isn’t necessarily worth buying either.
*No offence to Tyneside intended.