Fourteen grape varieties may be used in Chateauneuf-du-Pape.1 Many of them are bit players, used to add traces of spice or color or acidity, etc. But they also make that region’s wines more diverse and allow winemakers to compensate for difficult vintages.
Scores of American wineries make blends inspired by Chateauneuf-du-Pape, but the full range of varieties have not been available here. To remedy that, Tablas Creek Vineyard has spent 22 years importing carefully selected cuttings from Chateau de Beaucastel,2 shepherding them through the USDA quarantine process, working for their TTB approval and then propagating them. Tablas Creek has now gotten nine varieties legalized. The last four gained preliminary approval during the final week of 2012.3 Now, all legitimate Chateauneuf-du-Pape varieties are approved here.
The Four Latest Chateauneuf-du-Pape Varieties to be TTB-approved
Acres under Vine in Chateauneuf-du-Pape
|Bourboulenc||White||Citrus, flowers & smokeLow-moderate alcoholHigh acidityBlends well with Grenache Blanc||55.99|
|Picardin||White||NeutralModerate alcoholModerate-high acidity||0.07|
|Terret Noir||Black||Light colorAromaticModerate-high alcohol High acidity||0.84|
aka Brun Argenté
|Black||Light colorSpicy and tannicModerate alcohol Balancing acidityBlends with Grenache and Syrah||8.00|
Of Picardin, Tablas Creek founder Robert Haas says they will “likely be planting the first new block anywhere in the world in several decades.” And he isn’t sure exactly how they will use the four grapes, not knowing how they will show here. But, all four varieties are late-budding and late-ripening, favorable attributes for Paso Robles.
It will probably be four to five years before there will be a harvest suitable for vinification. Then we’ll see whether the varieties are suitable for blending only or have varietal potential.
1 This number counts Grenache Blanc and Grenache Noir separately. If all blanc, gris and noir variants are considered, there are actually 22 authorized varieties.
2 Chateau de Beaucastel, a founding partner in Tablas Creek Vineyard, is said to be the only producer in Chateauneuf-du-Pape to grow and make use of all authorized varieties.
3 The first five varieties Tablas Creek “sponsored” were Cinsault, Clairette, Counoise, Grenache Blanc and Picpoul.
The Chateauneuf-du-Pape Wine Book, Harry Karis
Tablas Creek Blog
Wine Grapes, Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding and José Vouillamoz
Do you like Chateauneuf du Pape and the California re-creations? What are your favorites?
Check back here to post or read follow-up comments and to check out our next blog post. See our upcoming schedule of French Wine Scholar classes, California Wine Appellation Specialistclasses and seminars.