Châteauneuf-du-Pape Roots of Wine and Religion

 
It is among the elite wine regions of the world, yielding some of the most opulent, intriguing and dynamic expressions of grapes, and it is closely becoming an intense rival for the top spot in my heart, tough to do given that this California girl has roots so deeply embedded near Napa Valley. 
 

The name Châteauneuf-du-Pape translates into "new castle of the pope," and derives from the period of when Pope Clement V moved the papacy to the village of Avignon in the early 14th century as a measure of protection from the volatile period of political instability and religious strife. The picture above is of the Pope's palace where it stands today in the square of Avignon. The cathedral is magnificent and imposing, and yet the exterior is quite bare and the architecture relatively restrained compared to ornate religious structures of later periods. It is a significant symbol of France's history, and it is a requisite destination for both the spiritual and historians, alike.


Pope Jean XXII further embedded the papacy in the region when another castle was built on one of the highest hills of Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the 15th century, and was designated as the pope's summer home. 

 

It is during this period when the wine-loving Popes planted the roots of Châteauneuf-du-Pape's agricultural mainstay: grapevines, and with it established this region's prominent tradition and reputation of wine making.
 
 
Today, the pope's summer home in Châteauneuf-du-Pape is but a mere residual memory of itself, annihilated by wars and destruction over the centuries. 

 

The castle overlooks the region of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and the river on the edge of the village is the southern part of the Rhone River, which travels north to south.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the wine region extends much further than the village, covering nearly 8,000 acres or roughly ten square miles.  Considering its small size, and the AOC's strict growing standards, it is one of the most productive agricultural regions of the world, yielding an annual average of 2.6 million gallons of wine or roughly 325 gallons per acre. That figure does not comprehend the 5% of grapes mandated by the AOC to be discard as a measure of quality control. There are thirteen grape varietals of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation, a majority represented by Grenache (30%) and Mourvèdre (30%), a smaller percent by Syrah (10%), Counoise (10%), Cinsault (5%), and the balance is represented by seven other obscure varietals. Neither Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc are among the thirteen grape varietals of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.



On the day we visited, we walked down the long and wide brick stairway from the Pope's castle leading to the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

  

I have a better appreciation of how young America is learning about French history and studying the various architectures of the homes we passed by. 

  

I'm imagining how wonderful it must be to grow up in the quaint village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The population of the village is roughly 2,200. Everyone must know everyone else.

  

Sherry Page tells me that the village of Chateauneuf, because of its renown  wine region and significance to history, gets quite a few tourists over the warmer months. But since it was early February, we didn't see a single soul while we walked through the village, and in fact, most of the businesses were closed for winter months. It was quite nice to feel the soul of the town without the distraction of crowds.


The next post will be on a visit to the winery dubbed as the 'Crown Jewel' of Chateauneuf-du-Pape by Food & Wine. Can you guess which one it is?  

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56 comments:

Andrea@WellnessNotes said...

Beautiful photos! I spent a summer in France about 20 years ago; all your posts bring back so many memories... :)

Ravenous Couple said...

great history in this post..have no clue on the winery though :)

Pam said...

I love their buildings and countryside so much! Hope to visit some day!

xoxo

♥¸¸.•*¨Skip to Malou¨¨*•.¸¸♥¸ said...

Beautiful pictures and writing Christine. You are able to capture the beauty ,the rhythm and the echoes of the place... powerful post!

Apples and Butter said...

Châteauneuf-du-Pape was my grandmother's favorite wine region. She passed away recently and I was just filled with fond memories of her while reading this post. Love it! Thank you!

La Table De Nana said...

That was my dad's favorite wine! It was at my small humble wedding..
I have an empty bottle here I use as a candle..Not from my wedding..but that wine:)The bottle in the stone:) And the sundial!!:)

Lovely photos..I hope to go one day~

Simply Life said...

WOW! I wish I could be there!

Selba said...

So interesting to see all the pictures. Hope that someday I've a chance to visit it. Thanks for sharing :)

Travel Eat Love said...

This is such a beautiful post!

5 Star Foodie said...

We were there for our honeymoon, so pretty and we loved the wine tastings there!

Stephanie Savors the Moment said...

Beautiful photos - I feel like I just took a stroll through that lovely town. I love the wines from that region as well - thanks for sharing!***sigh***
Stephanie

sophia said...

Goodness...such beauty! Such history! Such stories! I am getting wanderlust! Oh I wanna travel so badly!

Laurie said...

I am so enjoying your travel photos! So beautiful. Love the wine bottle in the wall.

Anonymous said...

How picturesque! I love the wine bottled embedded in the stone wall, too. How apropos is that! ;)

Carolyn Jung said...

So picturesque! I love that wine bottle embedded in the stone wall, too. How apropos is that! ;)

3 hungry tummies said...

A wonderful post with beautiful photos! Again you were blessed with such perfect weather!

denise @ quickies on the dinner table said...

Gorgeous photos and wonderful writing! I am soooo jealous! Hope to go there too, one day. Love, love, love Rhone wines but for the moment, Chateauneuf-du-Pape is out of out of my humble reach *sigh*

Meena said...

The French countryside is just serene, isnt it? You must have hated to leave that!

♥peachkins♥ said...

thank you for the little tour...

Trissa said...

Your pictures are absolutely gorgeous - I feel like you are my tour guide and you're taking us around the village, the cathedral etc.

Fimère said...

c'est vrai que c'est un magnifique château je suis admiratif devant une telle beauté, merci pour la petite histoire
bonne journée

Bellini Valli said...

Thanks for todays armchair journey.

Beth said...

how young America is always strikes me when i'm in Europe. And I'm from the "old" part of America--people have been living in Maryland since the mid 1600s! I'll never forget my first grown up trip to Europe though--my friend was living in the "new" part of Edinburgh and her building was built in the early 1700s!

Stella said...

Hi Christine. Wow, what beautiful photos. I have always noticed at work that it was a big deal when someone ordered wine from the Chateauneuf du Pape region , but I didn't realize that it is one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world. It's amazing that they are able to keep their soil rich, but I suppose those strict standards help with maintaining the soil's richness and integrity.
Oh, and I can't even imagine the talk that must go on in a town that small! I'm sure life is very interesting there...

Mama Freemans' cafe' said...

Thanks for letting me once again live vicariously thru you. Love the bottle in the wall.

Mari's Cakes said...

As always beautiful pictures. they are very relaxing to me.I wish I was there!

Have a Great Day!

Divina Pe said...

Beautiful photos and architecture. I want to make that trip one day to France. Your writing is flawless.

TKW said...

I love the wine bottle embedded in the building! Great tour--thank you!

Mimi said...

As always great photos and information.
Mimi

Dolce said...

I was there last November, and in Tavel too... Sigh...

ONe of the well known wineries is Vieux Telegraphe, but every one is great too!

Anja said...

I've already been in chateauneuf du pape. the area is breath taking.

your pictures show pretty nice the atmosphere. One of the most famous vineyards is chateau beaucastel.

would love to make your trip. You can also visit vaqueyras and gigondas if you have enough time. i'm looking for your next post. anja

Bridgett said...

This was a great post and a wonderful photo-journey.

msmeanie said...

Your photos are AMAZING. They make me feel like I am there. I agree -- some of the sights look similar to Napa. Both beautiful in their own ways.

Joie de vivre said...

This was one of my most favorite cities on my trip to France. No one can beat a good bottle of Chateauneuf du pape in my opinion. I can't wait for your next post!

Pam said...

This is almost as good as being there. Beautiful photos and I love the one with door and the balcony over it. I wish we had made it there when in France years ago. Thanks for the tour! I can tell I will be back many times, you are a great tour guide!

Gulmohar said...

Thanks for sharing the beauty of a wonderful countryside :-) I really liked the brick stairway..Somehow it made me so nostalgic..maybe because it is so common in my native :-)

Nostalgia said...

Lovely post... thanks for sharing.

Ju (The Little Teochew) said...

I love all your photos! I wish I were there. Even for a day! :)

Cocina Savant said...

wow! the pictures look incredible, there is no way your trip can't be anything but amazing. I can't wait to read about your visit to the winery :)

Debinhawaii said...

Such gorgeous photos! You really make me want to go there!

Katy ~ said...

I would be engulfed in all that beauty. Thank you so much for sharing. I was sorry when I came to the end of your post.

Danielle said...

isn't that just a beautiful place. I could see myself strolling through it all, taking it all in (until I woke up)

Kitchen Butterfly said...

Love the bottle in the wall

Anonymous said...

as always, beautiful pics!! so sad i didn't win those meyer lemons!! loved bottle in the wall and the vivid colors of the bistro. give us a call--are you coming this week-end? love, mom

Stacy said...

Beautiful pictures. This post makes me think it might be time to schedule a vacation--I need it! Thanks for sharing.

John Dryzga said...

I just adore the wines of the southern Rhone. I will have to put that on the must go list.

Was the winery Vieux Telegraphe?

Cinnamon-Girl said...

What gorgeous photos and wonderful history! The wine bottle in the wall was so neat!

Elizabeth in SLO said...

I learned a lot--great post! Makes me want to try some wines from this region. Looking forward to your next story.

Penny said...

I haven't had a chance to comment much lately, but I am so enjoying your trip narrations. You are a great food/travel writer.

Lori said...

I never tire of your photos. They are so gorgeous and make you feel like you are there within the experience. Love it!

Heavenly Housewife said...

What a beautiful town. I love the picture where the wine bottle is included in the brickwork.
Have a wonderful weekend daaaaaaahling.
*kisses* HH

Trix said...

Oh man, do I wish I lived there! How beautiful is that? Great post.

Diana Bauman said...

Hey sweet Christine, just letting you know I'm cuddling up with hot tea and your blog this weekend! I have so many posts to catch up on and they look so beautiful! Been having a rough time catching up but I'm feeling tons more relaxed. Thanks for being such a great friend! I'm excited to post about our day on my blog. I had so much fun and the sardines from the Lobster Place were AMAZING!! We're ordering more for sure! Thanks for the pics as well :D Love ya lady!!

Diana

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite said...

Another stupendous post Christine! Fabulous photos and information. You should write a guide book!

Lori Lynn said...

Ooh, such terrific photos.
Love the wine too.
LL

Diana Bauman said...

Gorgeous post! You must have had an amazing tour! The facts of the wine, 325 gallons per acre is absolutely incredible. Really makes me think what can be grown in small areas with the right temp, location, and strategy. Beautiful!