In most red Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Grenache noir is the most common variety, although some producers use a higher proportion of Mourvèdre. Grenache produces a sweet juice that can have almost a jam-like consistency when very ripe. Syrah is typically blended to provide color and spice, while Mourvèdre can add elegance and structure to the wine. Some estates produce varietal (100%) Grenache noir, while a few producers insist on using at least a token amount of all thirteen originally permitted varieties in their blend.
To be honest, I knew there were different "brands" of Chateauneuf-du-Pape but had had very little experience with them. We knew we liked the one that comes in a dusty, crooked bottle:
and so our memories and recollections of having drunk that brand were our standard for comparison. We knew we wouldn't want to try all seven bottles and then leave a bunch of them unfinished, so we settled on trying these four, all in the $30 -$37 price range at the local gubmnt monopoly [aka LCBO].
We were all unimpressed, compared with our recollections of the one in the crooked bottle. They seemed to have too much tannin and have weird overtones.
There were four of us involved in the tasting. We didn't spit between tastings; we didn't cleanse our palettes either. We just tasted four in a row (blind taste testing, details available upon request maybe). And then tasted them again.
- One of our guests strongly preferred the Clos du Calvaire (on the far left)
- One of our guests slightly preferred the Mommessin (second from the left)
- Ms Eclectic and I slightly preferred the Chateau Simian (second from the right)
But overall, based on our imperfect recollections, we all preferred the stuff in the cool (i.e. crooked and dusty) bottle. How very sophomoric of us (!?)
I wonder if they'd be better if we cellared them for a year or two.