Domaine de la Côte de l’Ange Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2011

Domaine de la Côte de l’Ange Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2011: Deep purple color; vividly delightful nose of raspberry and strawberry jam, dried flowers;

blackberry, licorice, cherry, plum, smoke; spice emerges with air; full of character, lush, velvety on the palate; intense, full-bodied blend of grenache (70%) with mourvedre and syrah aged in small oak casks; refined tannin, absorbing length that deftly plays out seemingly for minutes. Châteuneuf-du-Pape is classic southern Rhône wine commune and village; the ruins of a medieval castle sits on the mountain at the center of the village; the castle was built in the 14th century for Pope John XXII (the papacy was located in nearby Avignon, France, not Rome, in the 1300s), and thus the name—The New Castle of the Pope. Châteauneuf-du-Pape represents Rhône wine nobility and holds forth as the southeastern part of France’s counterpart to the stars of Bordeaux and Burgundy. With grenache the lead grape (lighter skin color, lower tannin), you get juicier, softer wines than the assertive austerity of cab-based blends or the lightness of pinot noir; that’s the reason for the blending with mourvedre (tannin and earthy elements) and syrah (dark color, full body, blackberry, and acidity). It is this interplay of flavors and attributes that make blended wines wonderful. Châteauneuf-du-Pape has long been a favorite of mine; this effort reinforces that predilection. $55-64 Côte de l’Ange Châteauneuf-du-Pape