White, Ready, but will keep

2012 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, Clos des Beauvenir, Château La Nerthe

2012 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, Clos des Beauvenir, Château La Nerthe

White | Ready, but will keep | Chateau La Nerthe | Code:  23359 | 2012 | France > Rhône > Châteauneuf-du-Pape | White Rhône Blend | Medium-Full Bodied, Dry | 13.5 % alcohol

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Scores and Reviews

WA

95/100

WA - The top white of the estate, and coming from the Clos de Beauvenir lieu-dit, which lies just to the south of the estate, the 2012 Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc Clos de Beauvenir is the best vintage of this cuvee I’ve tasted. Comprised of 58% Roussanne, 32% Clairette, 8% Grenache Blanc and a splash of Bourboulenc, fermented and aged almost all in barrel (one-third new), it sports drop-dead gorgeous aromas of melon, buttered citrus, white flowers, almond paste and hints of honey to go with a full-bodied, incredibly fresh and focused profile on the palate. While this cuvee always delivers uncommon richness, it’s the purity and focus here that sets it above other vintages. Again, it will age (although typically, I think of the traditional cuvee as being more age-worthy), yet I’d still pair it up with a classy meal over the coming 3-4 years. Drink now-2018.

One of the larger estates in Chateauneuf du Pape, covering over 200 acres, all of which are in the southeastern portion located around the estate, Chateau La Nerthe is owned by the Richard Family, with Christian Voeux making the wines since 2008. While the winemaking here falls firmly in the modern camp, with a plenty of small barrels utilized (and some new), the wines never seem overly oaked and always hold on to classic Southern Rhone flare.

Drink 2013-2018

Jeb Dunnuck - Wine Advocate #209, Oct 2013

The Producer

Chateau La Nerthe

Chateau La Nerthe

Château La Nerthe has a history stretching back to 1560. The Château itself is one of Châteauneuf`s most elegant buildings and was built in 1760. This large property, with over 90 hectares of vines, has had a chequered history and it has been only since its purchase in 1985 by the Ricard family that its true potential has come to be realised.

In the capable hands of Alain Dugas the Estate has been making wines that are fully worthy of such a grandiose setting. With a focus on organic viticulture and a winemaking regime which juxtaposes modern stainless steel and very old cement, the wines are made with great skill and attention to detail.  In 2008, Alain Dugas retired, and Christian Voeux took over from him.

La Nerthe's wine is firmly in the modernist camp of accessible Châteauneufs; softer tannins than in Beaucastel or Vieux Télégraphe, and ready to drink earlier. Almost all La Nerthe wines are vinified in wood, many in small barrels, which is rare in Châteauneuf. No filtering takes place. The white wines are richer in fruit  than most other white Châteauneufs.

The Grape

White Rhône Blend

White Rhône Blend

With the exception of the wines from Condrieu and Château-Grillet virtually all Rhône Valley whites are made from blends.

In the north, the white wines of Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, St-Joseph, and St-Péray are produced from blends of Marsanne and Roussanne. Generally Marsanne is the dominant partner and it lends colour, body and weight to the blend, as well as richly scented fruit. Roussanne, a notoriously low yielder and pernickety to grow, produces intensely aromatic wines which contribute bouquet, delicacy and finesse to the blend.

Until about 15 years ago there was very little interest in southern Rhône whites as it was widely believed that the combination of dull non aromatic grapes and the baking summer heat meant quality wine production was nigh impossible. Since then the quality has improved markedly through the introduction of cool fermentation techniques and increased plantings of northern Rhône white grapes.

The base of many blends is still Grenache Blanc, a widely planted variety producing fresh wines with apple-like fruits, often with hints of aniseed. Ugni Blanc is still found in many blends, as is Clairette though their general lack of character and definition has led to a reduction in plantings. The future for southern Rhône whites appears to lie with Roussanne, Marsanne, and, increasingly, Viognier.

The Region

Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Châteauneuf-du-Pape is the largest and most important wine appellation in the southern Rhône. It is home to more than 3,200 hectares of vineyards and over 80 growers; more wine is produced in Châteauneuf than the whole of the northern Rhône put together. The vineyards are bounded to the west by the Rhône river and to the east by the A7 autoroute.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape was the first ever Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée established in France, in 1932. Small, rounded rocks from the ancient river bed known as galets roulés are a key aspect of what makes Châteauneuf -du-Pape wines so distinctive, with the rocks reflecting heat back into the vines at night, thus increasing ripeness and reducing acidity.

The gloriously rich red wines, redolent of the heat and herbs of the south, are enhanced by the complexity which comes from blending several grape varieties. Fourteen are permitted for reds: GrenacheMouvedreSyrah, Cinsault, Vaccarese, Counoise, Teret Noir, Muscadin, Picpoul Noir, Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Rousanne, Picpoul Gris and Picardin. With red Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Grenache typically dominates with Syrah and Mourvèdre in support.

White Châteauneuf-du-Pape is becoming increasingly sought-after, even though it represents less than 10 percent of the total production. Here, five grapes are permitted: Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Roussanne, Bourboulenc and Picardin.

Recommended Producers: Château de Beaucastel, Clos de Papes, Vieux Télégraphe, Château Rayas,, Domaine de la Charbonnière, Sabon, Château La Nerthe, Domaine Perrin

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