top of page

WINE OF THE WEEK: Finest Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rhône, France

£21, Tesco

I scoured both front and back labels for the vintage of this Châteauneuf-du-Pape before it dawned on me that, very unusually for a non-sparkling appellation contrôlee wine, it’s a blend of vintages.

After tasting it, I wondered if more AOC producers shouldn't consider doing non-vintage blends, especially when there's been a small or below-par vintage.

It’s a textbook red Châteauneuf, balancing sweet wild-berry and cherry fruit against peppery spice, savoury sun-warmed earth and a touch of garrigue herbs – full and generous but not hefty.

The product of four vintages, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022, and four grape varieties, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsault (55%, 40%, 4% and 1%), it's sourced from soils strewn with galets roulés – large pebbles that absorb the sun’s heat (look out for the tiny photograph of them on the back label) – and more than half the wines in the blend are certified organic.

Fermentation is in concrete tanks, after which 30% of the wines are aged in barrels and oak foudre for 12 to 18 months, a combination of materials that retains freshness in the wines while also giving nutty smoothness.

I’m not surprised at the quality. The winemaker is Julie Rouffignac, who, with her husband Gérard Lafont, also a winemaker, produces both the Arbousset Tavel Rosé and red Lirac (sold in Tesco) at their own family estate, Domaine d’Arbousset in Lirac.

The Châteauneuf comes into its own with comforting, substantial food: lamb, beef, pork or venison, especially herby slow-roasts and casseroles, tagines, cassoulets and dishes based around pulses. It can also handle rich stuffings, including chestnut, prune and sausage for turkey, goose or pork (recipe). 14.5%. Empty bottle weight: 596g.

Tesco Finest Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rhône, France

£21, Tesco


bottom of page