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by Fred McMillin
for September 24, 1998

 

Chateauneuf is Hot Stuff


Prologue

Some years ago my wife and I were visiting with Pierre Ligier, Director of the Appelation Controlee Laboratory in the Chateauneuf-du-Pape region of the southern Rhone. He gave me a publication that told of Baron le Roy de Boiseaumarie, as follows.

The Baron was severely wounded when shot down as a pilot in World War I. Returning to civilian life, he became "the greatest living authority on Chateauneuf-du-Pape." Let's see what he had to say about Pape origins.


Chateauneuf-du-Pape Milestones from the Baron

c.1120 A.D.—The name "Chateauneuf" (novum castrum) appeared in documents about a hill that had come under the control of the Bishop of Avignon.

c.1180—The Order of the Knights Templar installed themselves near a fortification (chateau) on the hill. They added a church and vineyards to provide wine for themselves.

c.1220—The Albigensian forces of the Church attacks the "heretics of the South" and Chateauneuf is overrun.

c.1300—The King of France Philip le Bel is sufficiently powerful to get his own nominee, the Archbishop of Bordeaux (a vineyard owner), installed as Pope Clement V.

1309—Clement V moves the Papacy to Avignon. His successor, John XXII, rebuilds and enlarges the castle, and uses it as his summer residence. He establishes extensive vineyards around the "New Chateau of the Pope." He "became the true creator of the viticulture which was to change the entire area."

1998—If you want a sip of this liquid legend, here's a good one. It won "Best Red" in my last large blind tasting by the students in my S.F. State University (Extended Learning) class.


The Wine

'95 Chateau Cabrieres Chateauneuf-du-Pape
Producer—Louis Arnaud (for more, see p.241, Hugh Johnson's Wine Atlas of France)
Importer—Parliament Import Co., Atlantic City
Contact—V.P Laura Baddish, the Alden Group, at (212) 867-6400, N.Y.C.
Food Affinities—Medium-body wine for veal, ham, and cheese-laden pizza.
Price- $19 range


Postscript

ChateauneufPhoto - Director Pierre Ligier and lab technician telling Mrs. McMillin (center) how Baron le Roy drew up the first lab quality standards, making Chateauneuf-du-Pape the first French district to establish formal quality controls.


About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

 

 


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