About this WINE
Chateau la Nerthe
Château la Nerthe is one of the oldest producers in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The château itself was built in the 18th century, but winery records stretch back as far as 1560.
The Richard family – which also manages various other estates in Beaujolais, Bordeaux and elsewhere in the Rhône – owns the estate. La Nerthe boasts 90 hectares in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, two-thirds of which surround the château, while the final third is located on the famous plateau of La Crau. All the vineyards are farmed organically.
The soils here are a mixture of sandy clay and marl, as well as the typical galets roulés. The property is fortunate to have a natural spring within its grounds, which is incredibly beneficial to the vines in this often drought-prone region.
Although the property has plantings of all 13 of the appellation’s permitted varietals, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah dominate the red blend. The estate has one of the highest proportions of white vines in the region and produces a special white cuvée – Clos de Beauvenir – from the clos directly in front of the château.
Since young and dynamic winemaker Ralph Garcin joined the estate in 2016, small yet significant changes have been made here. Ralph has introduced vinification by plot, investing in smaller fermentation tanks and larger ageing vessels to showcase the quality of the fruit in the cellar. He’s also been making improvements to their viticultural practices, such as introducing organic farming.
Côtes du Rhône
Classified in 1937, Côtes du Rhône is an enormous appellation encompassing red, white and rosé wines covering an area of 40,300 ha and producing a crop that is 3 times larger than Beaujolais and almost as much as Bordeaux. Although this wine can come from across the Rhône region, more than 90% comes from the south. With the honourable exception of those produced by famous northern names like Jaboulet and Guigal, the finest examples are made in the south.
Red wine dominates, made with a minimum of 40% Grenache (except in the north where Syrah is allowed to be top dog) normally partnered by Syrah and/or Mourvèdre; another 18 varieties are also permitted. Typically light and fruity, the best examples can be rich, spicy and full-bodied. Almost all are best drunk young.
Quality varies from the very ordinary to the exceptional. Much is produced by cooperatives but the best come from the increasing number of individual estates and Châteauneuf-du-Pape producers like Beaucastel who produce premium entry wines here. White and rosé Côtes du Rhônes account for only 2% and 4% respectively, although both can be very good.
Southern Rhône Blend
The vast majority of wines from the Southern Rhône are blends. There are 5 main black varieties, although others are used and the most famous wine of the region, Châteauneuf du Pape, can be made from as many as 13 different varieties. Grenache is the most important grape in the southern Rhône - it contributes alcohol, warmth and gentle juicy fruit and is an ideal base wine in the blend. Plantings of Syrah in the southern Rhône have risen dramatically in the last decade and it is an increasingly important component in blends. It rarely attains the heights that it does in the North but adds colour, backbone, tannins and soft ripe fruit to the blend.
The much-maligned Carignan has been on the retreat recently but is still included in many blends - the best old vines can add colour, body and spicy fruits. Cinsault is also backtracking but, if yields are restricted, can produce moderately well-coloured wines adding pleasant-light fruit to red and rosé blends. Finally, Mourvèdre, a grape from Bandol on the Mediterranean coast, has recently become an increasingly significant component of Southern Rhône blends - it often struggles to ripen fully but can add acidity, ripe spicy berry fruits and hints of tobacco to blends.