Sunday, January 16, 2011
A Rhône white worth trying
Astounded you are? You thought that Châteauneuf-du-Pape only made reds? True, the region is dominated by red varietals and production, but a small portion is set aside for white wines, and a Châteauneuf-du-Pape white is something you really ought to treat yourself to if you’ve never had one.
While I don’t recall the specifics of the Clos du Mont-Olivet 2006 I drank (I can’t even remember when it was), I know that I liked it. I’m sure I would score it with at least a 9 (Parker gave it an 87). To give you an idea of how much land is set aside for the white varieties, Clos du Mont-Olivet has 2 hectares devoted to the white grapes out of 28 hectares.
In white Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Grenache blanc and Roussanne provides fruitiness and fatness to the blend while Bourboulenc, Clairette and Picpoul add acidity, floral and mineral notes. It has the freshness and bracing acidity of a fine Chablis or white Burgundy, but the floral characteristics really give the Châteauneuf-du-Pape whites a character all their own.
They tend to be pricey considering most are made to be drunk young; a few are cellar-worthy, but most will come with the notation of “drink now.” And at an average of $25 to $30, it’s not often that I will go out and buy one unless I have a specific meal planned around it. Despite the price, however, it is worth going out and picking one up the next time you’re at your favorite wine retailer. Not many carry the white varieties from this appellation, but when you find one, chances are you will be pleasantly surprised.