This is where the beloved La Fiole du Pape was born. We learned about the special technique of blending young wines and older reserves to ensure the consistency of the style year in and year out, much the way Champagne is made. And here is a snapshot of what we learned:
The first vines were planted by the ancient Romans, and the region's special soil and terroir produce a number of grape varieties, which are largely red and largely Grenache. The soil is characterized by pebbles that retain heat during the day and cool down at night, lending a positive effect to the ripening of the grapes. The Mediterranean climate of dry, sunny weather and non-freezing temperatures create the coveted character of Châteauneuf du Pape's grapes. Another factor is the Mistral, the "crazy wind" they say can reach up to 100 mph -- the bane to hairstyles everywhere (especially ours during some insanely windy days). The Mistral is incredibly nourishing to the grapes. It keeps the grapes clean, dry and carries away insects and disease. Great impact on the character of the grapes, super-annoying impact on us. We got the Mistral bad in the face on a couple of days in the south.