The Châteauneuf-du-Pape Designation
Lying between Orange and Avignon in the département of Vaucluse, the Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine-growing area has been cultivated and expanding ever since the 14th century. Catholic popes first revealed the unique terroir of the region following the relocation of the papacy to Avignon in the 14th century. The village became the papacy’s summer residence during the reign of Jean XXII. The exquisitely crafted wines from this region attained the designation of ‘Wine of the Pope’ during this period, which gave the wine access to the great European royal courts.
The desirable location of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, overlooking a limestone hill, is particularly well suited for wine farming, thanks to its subsoil displaying rare properties, a result of successive sedimentary layers. The designation area is characterised by the rolled pebbles that cover it and store the day’s heat, which is then released at night. The climatic conditions of the area, characterised by very long periods of sunlight with a few pronounced rainy spells in autumn and winter, combined with the cleansing mistral wind, also constitute a great asset for the cultivation of vines in the regions.
The vineyard’s unique geography inspired the great poet from Provence, Frédéric Mistral, to say that our vineyard was “Nurtured land, land of breath and sun, predestined to singing, pleasure and glory”.
The Châteauneuf-du-Pape Designation of Origin (known as Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée – AOC in French), one of the first four French AOCs, was founded a year after the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine Contrôlée [National AOC Institute] was set up in 1935. The distinctive coat-of-arms adorning the Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine bottles, which guarantees estate bottling, has indicated its designation as an estate since 1937.
Producers have to comply with the Designation’s strict rules, requiring hand picking, grape selection, and limiting output to 35 hl per hectare and a minimum natural alcohol level of 12.5°.
The Châteauneuf-du-Pape Designation authorizes thirteen grape varieties (8 red, 5 white), thus leaving wine-growers room to manoeuvre within this combination, from single varietal wines to the full range referred to as the ‘symphony of the 13 varieties’.
Since 1894, the Châteauneuf-du-Pape winemakers have continually organised themselves to guarantee the quality and typical character of the wines made on their territory. In this spirit, the Federation of Châteauneuf-du-Pape producers’ Union was established in 1923 by the Baron Le Roy de Boiseaumarié, in order to have the Châteauneuf-du-Pape Designation of Origin recognised. In 1933 the rules and conditions regulating the production of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape Designation, which are still applicable today, were established.