Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc 2005 / $19.99
Rhone Valley / France
Have you ever a tried white Chateauneuf du Pape? Or, as the French say Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc..... No?... Well, expand your horizons. You are missing out on a wonderful wine experience.
I must say, this is not a wine I would normally order. Especially so at a restaurant, offered at 3 times retail. My wife and I went out to dinner this Saturday at Washington's "Black Salt" with 2 other couples that are friends and neighbors (Review to follow later this week). We wanted to start with a white, and this Chateauneuf du Pape caught my eye. What the hell. We were having the tasting menu and spending a fortune, why not splurge. What a good decision it was to try this wine.
Although this is a blend of grapes, it is not the typical white melange that you find in many white meritage. Most tend to be a bit sweet, reflecting the Viogner and Marsanne in the blend. This wine is 40% Clairette, 40% Bourbulenc, 10% White Grenache and 10% Roussanne which yields a nicely balanced, dry white. Although there is certainly residual sweetness....it is not at all cloying. The acidity is a perfect foil to the sweetness.....beautifully balanced.
The wine is pale and straw colored. When poured it is a bit unctuous and really clings to the bowl of the glass. The nose is all honey and white flowers...very pretty and delicate. It almost tastes un-oaked....nice fruit, great balance and no bitterness from tannins. This one did not last long at our table. This wine does have great structure, and seems like it would develop in the bottle for a few years if you can keep yourself from drinking it. It will certainly be worth the effort to find it as an addition to your cellar.
Usually, when I find a wine I like, it is easy to research it on-line. This wine, although showing up on many restaurant wine lists in the DC area, did not give me any local retailers for this beautiful white. I was finally able to find it on-line at a retailer in Michigan.
This wine was featured at $60 on the wine list at "Black Salt". This is not cheap for a white wine. As a rule of thumb one can usually divide the wine list price by two to find a local retail price, and by three if you are willing to buy on-line. This one is offered on-line at WineBuys.com for $19.99 per bottle. I will tell you....it is worth every penny.
I could not find this wine reviewed anywhere which surprised me. It seems that White Chateauneuf du Pape is not nearly as respected as the famous red wine of the region. I hope this review changes the way you think about Rhone whites. I can tell you for a fact, I ordered a case on-line as soon as I got home after dinner....
Links: WineBuys.com $19.99 per bottle and $31 per case shipping