I Love French Wine and Food - A White Chateauneuf-du-Pape

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					If you are looking for fine French wine and food, consider the Rhone Valley region of
southeastern France. You may find a bargain, and I hope that you'll have fun on this
fact-filled wine education tour in which we review one the area's best-known wines, a
white Chateauneuf-du-Pape that comes from some of the stoniest vineyards you'll
ever see.

The Rhone Valley ranks second in acreage among France's eleven wine-growing
regions. Really we are talking about two separate areas whose wines tend to be quite
different. The narrow northern Rhone Valley produces only a small fraction of the
Rhone wines. Its major red grape is Syrah, and its major white variety is Viognier.
Traditionally wines in the southern Rhone Valley are blended. For example, both the
red and the white Chateauneuf-du-Pape AOC wine may include over a dozen different
grape varieties. The white Chateauneuf-du-Pape reviewed below includes four
varieties, White Grenache, Rousssane, Bourbuolenc, and Clairette. With the exception
of Roussane, these are not considered particularly high-quality grapes. Many of the
other permitted varieties are also pedestrian grapes. And yet Chateauneuf-du-Pape is
considered a fine wine. You will never see it on a $10 wine list. Only once in a while
you will see it on a $15 wine list.

The village of Chateauneuf-du-Pape is home to about two thousand people and some
very well-known French wines. During the Fourteenth Century seven French Popes
made their home in nearby Avignon and they got their table wine from the town
named new castle of the pope. You may want to visit the Musee des Outils de
Vignerons Pere Anselme (The Father Anselm Museum of Winemakers Tools) or the
ruins of the Chateau. The nearby city of Orange has a great Roman theatre and even
an Arc de Triomphe, much less visited than its Parisian namesake.

Before reviewing the Chateauneuf-du-Pape wine here are a few suggestions of what
to eat with indigenous wines when touring this beautiful region. Start with Soupe de
Lentilles Provençale (Provencale Lentil Soup). For your second course savor
Pates aux Coquillages (Seafood Pasta). And as dessert indulge yourself with
Fougassette (Sweet Bread with Orange Flower Water).

OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review are purchased at
the full retail price.

Wine Reviewed Chateauneuf-du-Pape La Fiole Blanc 13% about $22.50

Let's start by quoting the marketing materials. Tasting Note: Pale gold; aromas of
mineral and grapefruit, crisp and dry with a mineral flavor. Serving Suggestion: Serve
with fish or seafood.

In the first sips I tasted honey and minerals. The wine was mildly sweet. The first
pairing was with a Middle-Eastern dish called kube (or kibbe) consisting of ground
beef in jackets made of crushed wheat, slow-cooked in a peppery tomato sauce. The
wine tasted of grapefruit. It was nicely long and fairly powerful.

My next meal centered around a barbecued chicken breast in a caramelized sauce
accompanied by potato salad and a Moroccan style tomato salsa with garlic that
wasn't very spicy. The wine was sweet like many a Riesling. It went well with the
chicken's sweetness. The acidity was light but increased as the meal went on. The
Chateauneuf-du-Pape's predominant flavor was grapefruit. In the presence of a sweet
but acidic, high-quality French style lemon pie the wine was round but weak.

The final meal was broiled salmon filet in a soy and honey sauce with brown rice and
zucchini cooked in tomatoes. The soft acidity of the wine was a great compliment to
the softness of the fish. Once again grapefruit came out with the rice and zucchini
combo. The wine's acidity paired well with the acidity of the tomatoes.

The first cheese was a Mozzarella. The wine was round, forceful, and frankly wasted.
With a yellow Cheddar the wine was fairly tasteless. It just didn't hold up to this fairly
weak cheese.

Final verdict. I would buy this wine again but carefully watch what I pair it with.
Never again would it be wasted with a pedestrian cheese. My idea of a great wine
evening might be this white Chateauneuf-du-Pape with salmon fillet followed by a red
Chateauneuf-du-Pape with a leg of lamb or roast duck. And live a bit like those
French Popes almost seven hundred years ago.