Domaine du Grand Tinel’s classic full-bodied 2017 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc offers ideal drinking now and for the next several years. Grand Tinel has been on a roll in recent vintages with its Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, and their 2017 vintage is perhaps the finest to date. From this light straw-colored wine, which holds more than a glimmer of the shimmering Provençal sun, emerges the seductive scents of tropical fruits: pineapple, guava, and lime infused with subtle hints of wild herbs and minerals. On the palate, the wine truly blossoms, revealing a lush, creamy texture backed by a bright citrus vivacity that makes it hard to resist and the ideal companion to bring to table. Unlike so many white wines whose flavor profiles appear wrapped up mainly in the bouquet, it is the center of this intriguing Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc that makes it special. Enjoy Domaine du Grand Tinel’s highly acclaimed Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc moderately chilled (40°-45° F) after a few minutes of aeration. Like its red counterparts, the 2017 Grand Tinel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc will benefit from a bit of air and a few good swirls as it will develop length, depth, and complexity as it breathes, so there is no need to be in a hurry to guzzle this wine. Enjoy!
One of the glories of both red and white Châteauneuf-du-Pape is how each complements rich hearty fare, even spicy dishes. Domaine du Grand Tinel’s delicious 2017 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc can hardly be confused for a frivolous aperitif; rather it begs to be brought to table where it will shine in the company of chicken, seafood, or veal. Grilled halibut prepared with a roasted garlic and lemon beurre blanc sauce and served with herb and pesto mashed potatoes makes for a wonderful accompaniment. Seared wild salmon on a bed of shaved fennel, radish, and organic greens with a light citrus and pomegranate dressing provides another tasty treat. A traditional Provençal bouillabaisse or fish stew makes for a splendid companion to Grand Tinel’s 2017 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, too. Free range chicken, game birds, and sautéed veal medallions marinated in lemon, herbs, and butter also do justice to this superb white wine. However, let your imagination and culinary acumen serve as your guide. Bon Appétit!
Domaine du Grand Tinel is one of the largest estates in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, although it is very much a hands-on boutique operation by virtue of its relatively small production and the fact that it remains a family run winery. The very capable and talented owner, Elie Jeune, is both proprietor and winemaker.
Nearly all of Grand Tinel’s 136 acres are devoted to the production of the estate’s very highly acclaimed red and white Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines. As is the case throughout Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Grand Tinel’s red wine is fashioned primarily from old vine Grenache (80%), with the balance of the cépage shared by Syrah, Mourvèdre, and often Cinsault and Counoise, while the Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc is comprised primarily of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, and in some vintages a bit of Clairette and/or Bourboulenc in a supporting role. By some accounts, the wines of Domaine du Grand Tinel remain some of the most traditional in style of all Châteauneuf-du-Papes. The house style underscores the full rich fruit of the appellation as well as the power inherent in the finest wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Nonetheless, Elie Jeune’s wines are quite approachable when young, yet they continue to improve in bottle for several years or more, including the domain’s stellar white Châteauneuf-du-Pape (this month’s feature).
Elie Jeune fashions several red Châteauneuf-du-Pape selections: an excellent estate bottled offering that is consistently one of the finest in the appellation, Cuvée Alexis Establet, the domaine’s tête de cuvée offering from very old vines, and another old vine selection, Heres, from 100% Grenache, in addition to a tiny quantity of exciting full-bodied Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc.
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 Châteauneuf-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 1920s, 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, which prevails today, and nearly all other subsequent attempts around the world to guarantee the authenticity of wine and improve the wine of individual geographic locales.
However, the glory of Châteauneuf-du-Pape belongs as much to today as to posterity. The red wines of this sun-drenched appellation enjoy the highest standards of production in France and by all acclaim constitute some of the finest red wines in the world. Increasingly, white Châteauneuf-du-Pape approaches the quality of the appellation’s red wine, yet it comprises less than 5% of Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s entire production.
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