Chateauneuf du Pape, Le Bois Pointu, 2016

  Le Bois Pointu

A striking wine and totally different to any other Châteauneuf du Pape that we taste. The nose is awash with scents of rose and ripe strawberry. The palate is equally fruity and elegant, the small garriguettes and red forest fruit flavours seasoned with the slightly twist of pepper and a warming fruit liqueur note. Sensual, floral and expressive, a lively freshness adds a welcome touch of astringency to the otherwise sleek and free-flowing fruit. Stunning. Production is circa 3000 bottles were made. Ageing is part in tank and part oak demi muid barrels. 15% fermented with whole bunches. There is more Counoise in the blend this year from Le Pointu (a fine vineyard of sandy soils in the Rayas/Nalys sector) in this, now that new plantings have come on stream, as well as a tiny bit of Mourvedre Cinsault and Bourboulenc, but the blend is dominated by Grenache.

Contains Sulphites.

About Le Bois Pointu

2010 is the fourth vintage of this tiny Châteauneuf production that spans two parcels: Le Pointu in the sandy Nalys/Rayas sector of the appellation and Crois de Boix from Bédarrides. 2007, 2008 and 2009 were made in conjunction with owner Charles Blagden and Eric from Domaine Cros de la Mûre and the wine carried the Cros de la Mûre label, from the 2010 vintage onwards the wine will now be made by Charles and the young Gonnets of Domaine Font de Michelle. The vineyards are being farmed organically and fermentation for the Grenache is in steel whilst the other varieties are blended together and fermented in demi-muid barrels. Bois Pointu has surpassed its 2007 to make an exquisite vintage; this is one of the top wines in Châteauneuf.

Appellation: Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Châteauneuf-du-Pape, literally the Pope's new castle, (referring to move of the papal court to Avignon the the 1300s) is a large appellation in the Southern Rhône and is considered the birth place of the Appellation Contrôlee system. In 1923 Baron Le Roy of Ch Fortia had successfully established a strict set of rules for the production of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, including delimiting an area for wine production and setting a minimum alcoholic strength of 12.5%. Reds and whites are produced, but the former is the far bigger of the two. Both colours produce rich, full-bodied heady wines rarely below 14% alcohol, distinctly southern and warm in character. The wines can be aged for anything between 5 - 20 years, even longer for the reds, depending on the quality of the individual wine. Famously the wines, in both colours, should either be drunk in the first flush of their youth within a couple of years of the vintage or at a bare minimum of 10 years, in between going through an awkward adolescent phase. The sweetness and headiness of red Châteauneuf-du-Papes comes from thre Grenache grape, it makes wines of sweet fruit, high alcohol and light colour. This is the dominant variety. There are increasing amounts of Châteauneuf-du-Papes which are Grenache only. However the classic and most common version is a blend of up to 13 varieties, the main players being Grenache, Syrah (which lends colour complexity and finesse) and Mourvèdre (which also lends colour, complexity, tannic backbone and acidity). The other varieties include the decreasing Cinsault, Counoise - highly thought of for its acidity- and a number of white grapes that can also be blended into the red wines as well as being used for makings whites, the most important of these are Grenache Blanc, Bourboulenc, the excellent Clairette and Roussanne.

The vineyard area extends over more than 3000 ha, the chief communes being Châteauneuf-du-Pape itself, Bédarrides, Courthézon, Orange, and Sorgues. The soils differ throughout the appellation from the classic large "Galet" stones which radiate heat to the low-trained old goblet vines, to varying degrees of clay, limestone and sand (the last of these can produce very sensual, silky wines the most famous of example of which would be Rayas.) Winemaking techniques vary from the traditional, all or part of the stalks included in the winemaking, fermentation and ageing in large old wooden foudres, to the more modern de-stalking, tank fermentation and new oak barriques maturation, or a blend of the two. The appellation is big therefore there are plenty of underperformers, however there is also, fortunately, an increasingly large selection of top class producers, including: Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe, Beaucastel, Clos des Papes, Barroche, Feraud et Fils, Mont-Redon, Domaine de Pegaü, Ch Rayas, St Prefert, and Font de Michelle. The best White Châteauneuf-du-Pape usually seems to have a high proportion of Clairette in it, though there is also an excellent single varietal Roussanne made by Beaucastel.

Grape Blend: Grenache | Syrah

Two of the key components of the top Southern Rhône blends, Châteauneuf-du-Pape the most famous example. The two are generally only found as a blend on their own in the Languedoc, used for fruit-driven, early drinking Vin de Pays wines. The Grenache with its body, sweetness and warmth and Syrah with its colour tannic structure and spicy black fruit characteristics, are ideally suited to each other.