2013 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Collection Ch. Giraud, Domaine Saint Préfert
About this WINE
Domaine Saint Prefert
Domaine St Préfert is yet another Châteauneuf-du-Pape A-lister on our ever-expanding Rhône wine range. Isabel Ferrando’s vines are mainly located in the southern sector; her modus operandus is fairly traditional with no destemming, cement tank maturation and a taste for déléstage. Her outlook and temperament, however, fall into the more modern camp, as manifested by the multiplicity of differing ‘cuvées’, all, thankfully pleasingly different from each other.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Classique comes from (relatively) younger vines and is a blend of 85% Grenache and 5% each of Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsault. It is a charming showcase for Grenache at is most bounteous; Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Reserve Auguste Favier is a charming blend of Grenache and 15% Cinsault. The Châteauneuf-du-Pape cuvée Giraud includes 38% of Mourvèdre that adds dark-fruit power and spicy, savoury tannins.
The most celebrated village of the Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape is the birthplace of the now indispensable French Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée system – imperfect though it may be. Compared to the Northern Rhône, the vineyards here are relatively flat and often feature the iconic galet pebbles – the precise benefits of which are a source of much debate. Minimum alcohol levels required by the AOC are the highest in France, but at 12.5% it is well below the natural generosity of Grenache, which only achieves its full aromatic potential when it is fully ripe and laden with the resultant high sugars. Syrah and Mourvèdre contribute the other defining elements in the blend, adding pepper, savoury spice and structure to the decadent Grenache. There are a further 10 permitted red grape varieties which can be used to adjust the “seasoning”. Of the five white varieties permitted, it is Grenache Noir’s sibling – predictably perhaps – Grenache Blanc, which dominates, though Roussanne shows a great deal of promise when handled well, notably at Château de Beaucastel.
Grenache (Noir) is widely grown and comes in a variety of styles. Believed to originate in Spain, it was, in the late 20th century, the most widely planted black grape variety in the world. Today it hovers around seventh in the pecking order. It tends to produce very fruity, rich wines that can range quite widely in their level of tannin.
In many regions – most famously the Southern Rhône, where it complements Syrah and Mourvèdre, among other grapes – it adds backbone and colour to blends, but some of the most notable Châteauneuf du Pape producers (such as Château Rayas) make 100 percent Grenache wines. The grape is a component in many wines of the Languedoc (where you’ll also find its lighter-coloured forms, Grenache Gris and Blanc) and is responsible for much southern French rosé – taking the lead in most Provence styles.
Found all over Spain as Garnacha Tinta (spelt Garnaxa in Catalonia), the grape variety is increasingly detailed on wine labels there. Along with Tempranillo, it forms the majority of the blend for Rioja’s reds and has been adopted widely in Navarra, where it produces lighter styles of red and rosado (rosé). It can also be found operating under a pseudonym, Cannonau, in Sardinia.
Beyond Europe, Grenache is widely planted in California and Australia, largely thanks to its ability to operate in high temperatures and without much water. Particularly in the Barossa Valley, there are some extraordinary dry-farmed bush vines, some of which are centuries old and produce wines of startling intensity.
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The masculine partner to the enigmatic Auguste Favier, Charles Giraud is named after Isabelle’s maternal grandfather. Forty percent of Mourvèdre adds dark-fruit power and spicy, savoury tannins. The fruit was not brought in until October 26th – a record at the property – but on the evidence of initial tastings it has been well worth the wait.
Simon Field MW - Rhône Buyer
Isabelle Ferrando is fortunate in that her proclivity for self-publicity chimes very well with the good general publicity that she has been receiving of late from respected international commentators. She is open about the difficulties of 2013, but pleased with the overall results, which required even more patience than usual, with October taking up the redemptive role traditionally reserved for September. The quality of her wines is underwritten by the fact that each individual cuvée is demonstrably different, and that with her Clairette she has made one of the greatest white wines in the region. Looking like the star of the show, the 2013 Châteauneuf du Pape Collection Charles Giraud is made from 60% Grenache and 40% Mourvedre, and comes from three separate terroirs: Les Serres, Le Cristia and Le Bois de la Ville. Fermented with 100% whole-cluster and aged 18 months in demi-muid, it offers fabulous aromatics (currants, garrigue, roasted meats and bouquet garni), medium to full-bodied richness and a layered, silky style. As with the Reserve Auguste Favier, the acidity is elevated, and will be something to watch, yet I think this will come together nicely once in bottle. Short-term cellaring should be the name of the game.
Jeb Dunnuck - Wine Advocate Issue#215 Oct 2014
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