2006 Maison Bouachon La Tiare du Pape Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Mission Codename: Crown or Halo?

Operative: Agent White, Red & Terroir

Objective: Secure an exclusive allocation of a favorite Châteauneuf-du-Pape for our operatives

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Maison Bouachon

Wine Subject: 2006 La Tiare du Pape Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Winemaker: Christian Abry

Backgrounder: Last year we featured the 2005 vintage of this superb wine. Is we so good that it became a 2008 Wine Spies Intrigue Award Winner, Operative’s Choice, Top International Selection. As soon as we got wind that the 2006 vintage was to hit our shores, Agent Red was dispatched to secure an exclusive allotment.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape (CDP) is among this spy’s favorite Rhone wines. With each wine being a distinct blend of up to 13 different varietals (usually lead off with Grenache, France’s work-horse grape, with the trend leading to more Syrah and Mourvedre based blends). The name Châteauneuf-du-Pape dates back to the 14th century during the time of the dual papacy.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape comes in two distinct styles, the more traditional ’Old World’ (like this one) are dark, rich and spicy with firm tannins that lend these wines to cellaring; and the more contemporary fruit-forward style more reminiscent of New World wines.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Deep ruby red with a dark but only slightly opaque heart of dark garnet. Skinny legs meander their way casually down the edge of the glass after a hearty swirl

Smell – A beautiful bouquet of bright red cherry, early plum, soft sweetwoods, delicate red raspberry and cassis, with a subtle underlayer of dried flowers, soft exotic spice and lightly toasted oak

Feel – On entry, bold and bright with an initial tartness that leads straight to a beautifully integrated and balanced feel with fine tannins, great acidity and a softly dry minerality

Taste – Beautifully integrated and wonderfully balanced with complex flavors of bright cherry, cassis, tart raspberry and a softly subtle nutty minerality with soft spice and a hint of oak

Finish – Very long and slightly dry with ultra-clean flavors of cherry, raspberry and soft spice that linger

ConclusionFinally, I got to review one of our International Selection wines! And, wow, am I glad that I did; This wine is fantastic. We have featured our share of great Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but this is the best one I have personally tasted. With beautiful fruit, bright acids and wonderful complexity, this wine was enjoyed, at first, on its own and, later, with an organic burger. An odd pairing, perhaps, but it worked perfectly. I suspect that this wine could be enjoyed with finer fair just as successfully. I really recommend this great wine to any CDP fan – or to those wishing to try their first Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Mission Report:

It was a day of marathon tastings in the southern Rhone. Agent Terroir suggested that we enjoy thee rest of the afternoon in Marseille. It was just a short drive from Avignon. Terroir suggested that we find a cafe near the Vieux Port to see the big yachts, enjoy the sun fade into the Mediterranean and perhaps one more glass of wine, this time, not spitting…

We settled in and just as the garcon arrived to take our order, my communicator buzzed with an incoming PIN message:

LFML @ 1845 CARGO RWY 13 P.U. AR

Let me translate… Be at the Marseille Airport at 6:45 PM to pick up Agent Red at the cargo facility at the end of runway 13. Problem was that it was 6:45 and I was sitting at the port, while my plane was arriving. I apologized to Terroir and hired a cab to take me to the airport. As I arrived, I could tell Red was frustrated for having to wait for me to pick him up. Excuses wouldn’t do. Even if it was OPS fault for the late message.

He had an overnight bag and a dossier in had. Handing me both, he said lets get started, I don’t have time to waste. Red was anxious, but unfamiliar with the French way. His planned tasting would have to wait until the morning. Jumping in the car I said where to? “Back to Châteauneuf-du-Pape, I know you where just there but look at this”, as he handed me the dossier.

As I skimmed the file, Red told me about the Skalli Family, owners of Napa Valley’s St. Supery. How they were committed to the perpetuation of wine making tradition and that we needed to gather some intel on the negociant Maison Bouachon.

Maison Bouachon had quite a history dating back over 100 years as one of the best barrel makers in the region. More recently, Maison Bouachon was quickly becoming known for making great wines including from the Rhone including Vacqueyras and Saint-Joseph. But it was the Châteauneuf-du-Pape that was the flagship.

By the time we arrived in the village it was late and thankfully Red was fading. I don’t think I could do another tasting after the marathon tasting from earlier in the day. This would give me some time to review the dossier and make the arrangements for the morning. I called Agent Terroir and he said he could arrange for a meeting with Christian Abry, Maison Bouachon’s winemaker. He also told me about the great tradition of the family. Needless to say, I was getting excited to taste the wine.

After a quick cup of coffee we headed out to Maison Bouachon. Once we arrived, we reviewed the vineyards and then headed to the back of the house, where on the top of an artisan barrel was an arrangements of gardenias and a bottle of the La Tiare du Pape and a few glasses. This translates to the ’Crown of the Pope’ (Tiare is also the flower of the south pacific gardenia). With nobody in site but the farm hands tending the vines, I popped open the bottle and poured a glass for Red and myself. The puzzled look on his face said it all, as did my response…

”Accueillir en France, apprécier le vin!”

And enjoy we did!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the Maison Bouachon in Châteauneuf-du-Pape can be seen in this satellite photo.

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