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The many grapes of Chateauneuf
Chateau de Campuget 2000 Costieres de Nimes
Announcing our Spring 2003 tour of Bordeaux
California Wine Club: Can't Tell The Good From the Bad?
MoCool 2002: You're invited!
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index
Among the many highlights of my recent trip to the Southern Rhone and Provence, one of the brightest had to be our visit to Chateau de Beaucastel, one of the top properties in one of my favorite wine regions, Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
I have written before about this Rhone region near Avignon, with its colorful history that goes back to the 14th Century, when the Popes of the Catholic Church moved their court to Avignon - and established not only a summer palace but the papal vineyards in and around the village of Chateauneuf-du-Pape ... "The new castle of the Pope."
Although a small amount of excellent white wine is made here, the flagship wine of the region is the red, virtually unique among the world's wines in that it is made from a blend of as many as 13 grape varieties. Grenache generally dominates, with Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsaut as important supporting players. But a few wineries - including Beaucastel - still make it a point to use at least a bit of all 13 in every vintage.
In a special treat during our visit, winery spokesman Mike Rijken offered us a "components tasting," a rare and educational chance to taste five of the grape varieties being vinified for the 2001 vintage before they are blended into the 13-grape "symphony" that is Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
Here are my tasting notes on the components - it was truly intriguing to see how each presents its own distinctive aromas and flavors that will become a part of the whole.
Muscardin - Warm, plummy, almost raisinlike in quality, with a soft and lactic texture. Makes up only about 1 to 2 percent of the final blend.
Counoise - About 7 to 10 percent of the blend, added for acidity and structure. Tasted alone, it is peppery and a bit green in scent, with spicy green peppercorns on the palate.
Grenache - Beaucastel usually used only about 30 to 35 percent Grenache in the blend, a smaller portion than many of its neighbors. This component is very dark, with huge, ripe raspberry fruit, the trademark of Grenache. Deep and structured, a hint of black coffee behind all the berry fruit.
Syrah - Added in only about 5 percent proportions to impart color and tannins. Held in large oak casks, it's black and opaque, with tart and leafy green aromas and a blast of black pepper on the palate.
Mourvèdre - "This is the horse we bet on," Mike said, comprising about 30 percent of the blend. Cinnamon and spice surround big black fruit in a sample that's already showing full, ripe and "sweet."
These notes are included in my extensive wine and travel diary of the Rhone/Provence trip, which is now online with tasting notes and photos at
To visit the Chateau de Beaucastel home page, click
For today's wine report we stay with France but cross the Rhone into Languedoc for this unusually stylish bargain wine from Nimes:Chateau de Campuget 2000 Costieres de Nimes ($7.99)
Clear, dark reddish-purple, with a very spicy red-fruit aroma that's pleasantly reminiscent of cherry cordial. Fresh and ripe flavors, strawberries and fragrant white pepper. Tasty fruit and crisp acidity, with a hint of bitter tannins in the finish. Unusual complexity for a wine this modest in price, and fine with food. U.S. importer: Robert Kacher Selections, Washington, D.C. (July 21, 2002)
FOOD MATCH: A fine Mediterranean match with a simple dish of spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce from the garden.
VALUE: Top quality for a single-digit price.
WEB LINK: The importer has a Website at
I'm delighted to announce that we're going to do another wine tour in France next spring! We have already made arrangements to join with French Wine Explorers for another French wine tour May 11-17, 2003. This time our destination will be Bordeaux, and I'm excited about the preliminary plans, which include tastings at a number of the region's most renowned producers.
More details will be available soon, but if you would like a preview - including a sampling of the wineries we'll visit and the fine restaurants and hotels being arranged for the tour - click to Best of Bordeaux Wine Tours on the French Wine Explorers Website,
When it comes to selecting great wine, the choices can sometimes be daunting.
With The California Wine Club, each month's two bottle shipment is hand-selected from the best of California's small, "Mom & Pop" wineries! Their credo? To only sell wines that they would serve to their own family and friends.
Each month is $32.95 plus shipping and includes a fun 8-page newsletter, Uncorked. Visit the California Wine Club website at
or call (800) 777-4443.
Makes a fun and unique gift, too!
Wine shipping available in the U.S. wherever permitted by law.MoCool 2002: You're invited!
La-deeeeez and gentlemen, and Pinotphiles of all ages (21+), here's your invitation to MoCool 2002. Please join us as we celebrate the 11th year of the MOtown COoperative Off-Line in the Ann Arbor and Detroit area, the world's longest running gathering for 'net-wired wine lovers.
This year's topic will be PINOT ENVY - an exploration of wines made with grape varieties that start with the word Pinot. Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, and shades of Pinot Gris (or is that Grigio?), plus Pinot Meunier and even Pinotage! Consider spending the weekend of Aug. 23-25 in the Ann Arbor/Detroit area, socializing with wine buddies, drinking great wines made from your favorite flavor of Pinot, and eating incredible food!
MoCool, Ltd. is a not for profit corporation. MoCool has been organized since 1992 by a volunteer group of wine lovers whose goal is a non-snobby, cooperative, affordable weekend for cyberwine fans to get together and enjoy wine, food, and each other's company.Last Week's Wine Advisor Index
We're moving gradually back toward daily publication, with two Wine Advisor issues and one FoodLetter per week for now. Here's the index:
Why 12 bottles in a case? (July 17)
Sherry is not always sweet (July 15)
Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:
Last week's Wine Advisor Foodletter: Chinese comfort food: Shrimp with lobster sauce (July 18)
Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:
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All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.
Monday, July 22, 2002
Copyright 2002 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.