Is there a more misunderstood wine than Châteauneuf-du-Pape? The myths, legends and hearsay that surround this huge appellation are part of what gives it such mystique, but there comes a time for dedicated wine lovers and wine professionals to know with certainty which are true and which are false.
Matt is going to bust some of the myths that surround Châteauneuf, and use them as jumping-off points to cover all the key points of the history and terroir of one of the greatest wines of France.
Matt Walls is a freelance wine writer and consultant based in London. He is a contributing editor at Decanter and writes regular articles for other magazines and websites such as Imbibe, Club Oenologique and timatkin.com. He won the Best Newcomer award at the 2013 Fortnum & Mason Food and Drink Awards for Drink Me, his first book on wine, which sold over 10,000 copies. Matt is interested in all areas of wine, but specialises in those of the Rhône – he is Regional Chair for the Rhône at the Decanter World Wine Awards.
His most recent work, Wines of the Rhône, was published by Infinite Ideas as part of their Classic Wine Library series in January 2021.
When not writing, Walls advises restaurants on wine lists, hosts tastings, judges food and wine competitions and develops wine apps.
WSG members enjoy a 30% discount off the price of book The Wines of the Rhône! Get your coupon code HERE
Almost every wine book in print speaks of the 13 grape varieties of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but this count is not exactly accurate. If you factor in all of the color variants of those 13 grapes, you end up with 22 authorized grapes for this appellation!
As with all wine regions, there is a list of producers with whom every wine student should be familiar in order to understand the diversity and complexity of the wines produced.
In the Rhône, the list is long because there are those known for their traditional winemaking styles and those known for being more modern (if not avant-garde!).
In this session, you’ll meet the rogues and renegades and old guard.
British national residing near Gigondas in the Southern Rhône. Born to a French mother (from Provence), Olivier studied Economics at Cambridge University and, having obtained First Class Honours, took the well-trodden route into industry working for Unilever, Time Warner and Linklaters LLP.
Olivier's passion for wine took off at Cambridge but a decade later after gaining qualifications with the WSET, Olivier established a part-time boutique UK wine importing business with Jeremy Williams in 1999. Their passion for wine encouraged them to make their own wines in Provence for sale in the UK by sourcing locally-grown fruit.
Olivier and his lawyer wife, Janet decided to permanently leave the London rat race in 2003 and move to Provence. Olivier planted his own micro-vineyard in Valréas from which he continues to grow and make small quantities of wine today, but it was his fascination for the French concept of “terroir” that took Olivier on a different route.
Whilst French wine culture is routed in “terroir”, the concept is very poorly understood (if at all) by the majority of the wine-drinking public. With time on his hands, Olivier embarked on a two-year research project interviewing growers and winemakers to get to the root of this elusive concept – what is terroir and how does it really influence wines, wine-growing and wine-making practices? What is truth, what is myth and more interestingly, what do we still not know?
Olivier decided that the best way to educate wine consumers was by establishing what was in 2006, the first Rhône-based Wine Tour business www.wine-uncovered.com. Olivier consulted on the inaugural Grenache Symposium in 2010 and provides consultancy services for importers and educators.
As autumn is drawing to a close and the wine presses have been washed and put away, the first wines tasted before being blended confirm what had been sensed: 2016 is going to be a fabulous vintage! And if some compare it to the magnificent 2010, some others do not hesitate to go as far as the famous star-vintage 1990… Either way, the evidence that we are witnessing the making of a great vintage is clear.
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