A wine label to a bottle of wine is akin to its birth certificate. With the exception of cleanskin wine, wine labels are printed with information on the winery, region, year and variety. However, for French wine, the classification is even more comprehensive. It’s a billion-dollar business after all, so it’s very much in France’s interest to safeguard the lucrative viticulture industry that has evolved to become an extension of its culture.
One such measure put into place is AOC, short for Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée. While AOC indicates the geographical origin, quality and style, it is more – it guarantees a wine’s authenticity. In order to have an AOC seal printed on the bottle, the producer has to abide by a set of standards and traditions drawn up specifically for a designated region.
In the early 1920s, a group of winemakers from the Châteauneuf-du-Pape (CDP) appellation, including Baron Pierre Le Roy of Château Fortia, banded together to combat wine fraud and the devastation brought on by grape phylloxera. Together, they drafted the first Appellation Contrôlée rules, which eventually paved the way for AOC.
CDP is located in the famous Rhône valley of France. Divided into northern and southern Rhône, CDP lies in the south and boasts 3,200ha of vineyards. It basks in around 2,800 hours of sunshine annually, while the strong, cold gust of mistral intensifies the dry climate. On the ground are pebbles that retain heat from the day and emit a steady stream of warmth at night that helps to ripen the grapes quicker.
Currently, there are 18 grape varieties permitted in CDP. Grenache is by far the most commonly grown grape variety here as it is planted in around 70 percent of the total acreage, followed by syrah and mourvèdre.
To sample the grape that characterises the appellation, 1995 Barbe Rac by M. Chapoutier will set you up for a good start in the long journey to discovering CDP. The producer is one of the few that use 100 percent grenache for their red wine. On the sight, it has a delightful garnet colour, while on the nose, it is herby, spicy but finely balanced by chocolate and berries. Rich on the palate, the wine contains a rounded fullness with a long finish. It is also interesting to note that Maison Chapoutier advocates storing the wine for 30 to 60 years for the vintage to develop additional depth.
TP Wine Club’s next tasting will feature Château Latour & Pauillac, on 22 June 2017, 6pm-8pm. For more information, please call us at +603-2011 8008 or visit us at www.thepointkl.com.my