As some may already know Ewa and I have moved to Bella Italia (the country…not the restaurant, smart arses). As much as we couldn’t wait to get there it felt only right since we were driving through France, to visit a few wine regions. Even though we only spent a day there, Chateauneuf-Du-Pape was by far our favourite stop. Although we couldn’t sample everything Chateauneuf-Du-Pape had to offer we would like to share a few recommendations.
Chateauneuf-Du-Pape translates to the ‘The Pope’s new castle‘ and references the period from the 1300s when the Popes relocated to Avignon. Actually, to use the technical term they would be the Antipopes, but whenever I write that I picture the creepy kid from The Omen. So we’ll just be calling them Popes.
Today’s village of Chateauneuf-Du-Pape was one of the summer residences for the ‘Popes’. It was partly due to the Church Fathers love of wine that more focus was given to improving it’s quality in the region
Chateauneuf-Du-Pape was one of the first AOC to be declared in an attempt to ensure quality remained high and to deter fraudulent winemakers.
Like most French wine regions winemakers must follow a daunting number of rules if they want to use the Chateauneuf-Du-Pape label.
Grape Varieties is a key one. However, unlike other wine regions which could be limited to just a few varities Chateauneuf-Du-Pape has a larger number to work with.
Staying with the religious theme I’ve gone with the Wine Bible which lists 14. But if anybody can tell me the offical number that would be great! The list is below.
- Terret Noir
- Grenache Blanc
The main thing to remember is that Grenache is the dominant grape, usually blended with Syrah and the vast majorites of wines from the region are red.
For a comprehesive list of rules for the AOC check out ChateauNeuf.dk
The village of Chateauneuf-Du-Pape is located about a 25 min drive north of Avignon. Driving there, as we did, is likely the easiest way. Free parking was available in the center, although at weekends we heard it’s much busier. However, if you’re willing to walk 10 mins there should be plenty of parking available on the outskirts.
Another option is to get the train to Avignon (they go direct from London now) and jump in a taxi. Uber was quoting around €30 one way from Avignon but I’m sure there are cheaper local companies. An even closer train station is Sorgues, but more on that below.
If you’re on a budget and taxis are out you can get a train to Sorgues (they go regularly from Avignon) and then take a bus to Chateauneuf-Du-Pape (they do not go regularly).
Do not be fooled! Sorgues train station is called “Gare de Sorgues Chateauneuf-du-Pape”, this is a lie, of sorts. You’re in the AOC of Chateauneuf-du-Pape but you’re still some distance from the village. Assuming you don’t want to walk over and hour you will need to catch the bus. The total cost from Avignon to Chateauneuf-Du-Pape by train then the bus came to €9 per person
The bus to catch is Ligne 23 and the timetable is here. As you can see you should plan your train journey to be on-time for the bus. If you miss the bus you’ll be waiting a while for the next.
We hear tell of a bus that goes from Aviginon direct to Chateauneuf, Ligne 22, but all signs pointed to it no longer being in service (shout out if I’ve got that wrong).
With Avignon so close this could be your best bet. There should be enough choice in the city to meet everyone’s style and budget. On top of that it’s a beautiful city worth spending at least one day looking around.
However, we decided to stay in Chateauneuf itself. Made it easier to stumble back from the tastings.
With regards to luxuary accomadation the village has you covered.
Since our budget was dedicated pretty much exclusively to wine we went for something a little less wallet destroying. Airbnb to the rescue.
There are quite a few Airbnb flats available; however, we have to recommend the place we stumbled across. For a couple visiting for a day or two, it was perfect. 10 minutes walk from the village and had its own pool. At 10% the price of the Chateau above we were very happy. On top of that, the hosts were fantastic. Link here.
The official Chateauneuf-Du-Pape tourist site also provides a list of bed & breakfasts and hotels.
The First-Ever AOC Goes to… By The Bubbly Professor
2. Vinepair – Wine Harvest 2018 Report
3. Sogevinus 2018 HARVEST REPORT
4. All About Chateauneuf du Pape Guide Best Wine Character Style History
5. Decree n ° 2009-1275 of October 20th, 2009 relative to the controlled appellations of origin “Bugey”, “Roussette du Bugey”, “Morey-Saint-Denis”, “Tavel” and “Châteauneuf-du-Pape”