Wine Review: 2007 Chateau de la Gardine Chateauneuf-de-Pape

9 02 2012

Try to fit THAT in your wine rack -- I dare you.

Tonight’s review was supposed to be posted last night, but some insomniac infant adventures from the night before made me more or less comatose by dinnertime, so I had to take a PnP rain check.  However, all is quiet in the house now, so fresh off a better night’s rest and a ton of caffeine, it’s go time…although I’m still tired, so I’d better write quick.  This blatantly asymmetrical bottle of Chateauneuf-de-Pape was a generous Christmas gift from a good friend of mine (thanks Josh!) and a wine that I couldn’t bring myself to wait to open.  Considering the last time I opened a weirdly-shaped bottle of CNDP, it was a wholly depressing experience, I was fervently hoping for better luck this time…I’d hate to be permanently pulled out of the sway of a good marketing gimmick.  Fingers crossed!

Not your imagination. Definitely loopy.

The Chateau de la Gardine, like most wines from CNDP and elsewhere in France’s Southern Rhone, is made from a blend of grapes centred around Grenache:  this bottle is 60% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre, and 20% split between Syrah and Muscardin, the latter of which I had never heard of before yesterday.  According to Wikipedia, only 0.4% of Chateauneuf-de-Pape’s vineyards are planted with Muscardin (which is stated to be light in colour, tannin and alcohol but high in acid), so apparently most of CNDP has never heard of it either.  Although Grenache also tends to be fairly pale in colour, this wine didn’t hold back on the pigment; it was immediately noticeable due to its gorgeous deep maroon hue, so thick that it was almost totally opaque all the way to the rim of the glass.  On the nose, it was a bomb of raspberry and blackberry fruit, matched in intensity by an overt smoky undercurrent and made much more interesting by shifting supporting notes of maple, charcoal, cooked meat and bramble.  Most wines that look big and smell big also taste big, and the Gardine matched the pattern, coming across enthusiastically with a round full body, soft but prominent chalky tannins, and alcohol that stood out a touch more than it should have at 14%.  The fresh fruits on the nose gave way to dried or cooked fruits on the palate (date/prune), along with sour cherry, mesquite, an umami/savoury flavour like soy sauce and an earthy, metallic tinge that carried into the finish.

Cork Rating: 8.25/10 (I wish you could see the whole thing in the pic -- stellar graphic, great font, good coverage.)

The 2007 vintage in the Southern Rhone Valley was a great but hot one.  Hotter than usual growing seasons lead to very ripe fruit, which result in wines that have higher alcohol (because there is more grape sugar to convert to booze), less acidity (because as sugar goes up in ripening, acid goes down), riper/softer tannin and a fuller body.  This combination tends to create wines which may be a little less ageworthy but are more hedonistic and immediately approachable.  The flavour profile of this bottle has a slightly baked complexion to it and an overall softness that makes it quite drinkable right now, which could definitely be chalked up to its warmer birth year; I’d have to track down a bottle of CdlG from a cooler vintage to see if that theory bears out.  Either way, “bargain Chateauneuf-de-Pape” is getting to be close to an oxymoron these days, but this one is a really solid, enjoyable bottle at a (relatively) entry-level price…it’s restored my faith in the Dali-shaped bottle.

89+ points

$40 to $45 CDN

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2 responses

13 02 2012
S. Andersen

Yay!! I’m so glad that this time that Chateau de la Gardine was not disappointing! This is actually my father-in-law’s favorite wine, and they won’t import it into Denmark. So we usually bring him a bottle and I was waiting to see if it would show up in your blog. When the first bottle failed miserably, I was afraid that was the first and last from Chateauneuf-de-Pape. Interestingly enough, I had always wondered about La Fiole du Pape, but after your review I’m okay with not tasting it.

13 02 2012
petervetsch

I’m actually usually a fan of wines from Chateauneuf-de-Pape — the Fiole du Pape is just a very disappointing exception to the rule. This was my first time ever trying the Chateau de la Gardine, but for a sub-$50 CNDP I was quite impressed. Another great value from the region is the Bosquet des Papes CNDP, which I think is around $50ish and is just awesome. If you ever do try the Fiole, tell me what you think!

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