Domaine Chante Perdrix produces one of Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s most flamboyant and exotic wines. It also fashions what is likely the appellation’s most consistently hedonistic and seductive Châteauneuf-du-Pape. At Chante Perdrix, whose name means “Song of the Partridge,” Guy and Fréderic Nicolet fashion truly exceptional wine from low yielding vines. They use a traditional cépage or blend of Grenache (80%), with the balance Syrah, Mourvèdre, and the rare Muscardin varietal. Collectively, the Nicolet brothers farm one continuous 46-acre vineyard at the southern end of the appellation, where the earth consists more of stone than soil. Here, the proliferation of gravel and to a lesser extent the flat river stones called galets roulés dominate, which force the vines to burrow deep into the earth for sustenance; thereby facilitating the great charm and warmth of Chante Perdrix and solidifying this estate’s reputation as the most delicious and forward Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
The quiet, unassuming Guy Nicolet is the winemaker at Chante Perdrix, which assures that only time-honored, traditional winemaking methods prevail at this Provencal domain. A traditionalist, Nicolet ages his red Châteauneuf-du-Pape for up to 18-24 months in large oak foudres. What emerges is a firm, spicy, flamboyant wine that drinks remarkably well, even when young; yet, it will improve for up to ten years or more in bottle. In addition, Nicolet fashions small quantities of exotic white Châteauneuf-du-Pape that is worth seeking out.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape is the Rhône Valley’s most important appellation. Located in Provence, astride the swift moving Rhône River, this sun-drenched locale is blessed with a dry Mediterranean climate that is nearly ideal for the cultivation of vines and the production of red wine. Châteauneuf-du-Pape also possesses some of the oldest vines in France; the average age of the vines in Chateauneuf du Pape is in excess of 40 years, by far the oldest of any major appellation in France. In addition, the entire production of this great wine is hand harvested. Moreover, we have not yet mentioned the region’s fabulous terroir – large flat stones known as galets roulés that are mingled with plenty of decomposed gravel. The remnants of Alpine glaciers that once covered southern France; Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s glacial till provides excellent drainage and imparts subtle nuances of flavor to the appellation’s outstanding wines.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape, meaning the Pope’s new castle, derives its name from the sprawling edifice that the Roman popes built as a summer palace during the Babylonian Captivity. Forced to flee the political tumult of Rome from 1305-1378, Pope Clement V, a Frenchman, and his successor John XXII, left indelible marks on the history of wine by planting vines around their château and producing some of the Medieval world’s most noteworthy wines. Later, during the 1920’s, Châteauneuf-du-Pape would once again play a significant role in the history of wine by voluntarily adopting a set of controls and guidelines put forth by Baron Le Roy of Château Fortia. This action became the model for the entire French system of Appellation Control and nearly all other subsequent attempts to guarantee the authenticity of wine and improve the wine of individual geographic locales.