France Rhone Valley Chateauneuf-du-Pape Amazing 2010 Chateauneuf-du-Pape
Year in, year out, France enjoys its prestigious reputation as the producer of the finest wines in the world. With a wine making history which spans several thousand years and owes its expertise to the Romans, it comes as little surprise that this most highly esteemed of the Old World wine countries continues to impress and enchant both novices and experts to this day. Despite the rise in quality of wines from neighboring European countries, not to mention the New World, the French wine industry continues to boom, with up to eight billion bottles being produced in recent years. However, France prides itself on always putting quality before quantity, and the wide range in fine produce is a testament to the dedication and knowledge of the wineries across the country. Indeed, from rich and complex reds to light and aromatic white wines, French wines are as varied and interesting as they are enjoyable to drink, making this country a firm favorite for wine lovers across the globe. The Rhone Valley of southern France is a particularly fascinating wine region, with a history that stretches back to at least six hundred BCE, when the ancient Greeks first began cultivating vines there. The region itself is split into two distinct sub-regions, with the northern sub-region being famed for its production of exceptional Syrah, Marsanne, Roussane and Viognier wines, packed full of interesting character and expressing the terroir found there. The southern sub-region is home to an enormous variety of grapes, and produces red, white and rosé wines, and some of the world's most famous and adored blended wines. The continental climate of the region is ideal for growing grapes, and the winds which blow from the Central Massif help temper the heat in the vineyards, leading to very ripe fruits holding plenty of flavor. "As I predicted last year in Issue 197, 2010 is a great vintage that is extremely close in quality to 2007. The wines are not as exuberant, flamboyant or unctuously textured as the top 2007s, but they have the advantage of being slightly more delineated/focused with greater freshness. They are just as high in alcohol as the 2007s, but the fermentations of the 2010s were easier, and the wines come across as having slightly higher acids. The downside is that after abundant crops in 2007 and 2009, the 2010 harvest was tiny, largely because the Grenache crop had significant losses due to problems during and after the flowering. It was down by 30-40%, which has made the production levels of most of the Grenache-dominated wines much smaller than normal. Moreover, the greatness of the 2010 vintage has been widely recognized throughout the world, so the wines are being gobbled up at almost unprecedented rapidity... - Robert Parker.