With a winemaking history dating back to Roman times, Châteauneuf-du-Pape is the most celebrated appellation in the Southern Rhone. The region gained prominence in the 14th century when the Pope resided in Avignon, a short distance to the South. The Pope's summer residence was established in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and winemaking became primary to the town's culture and economy. The gravelly soils are filled with large, smooth rocks that retain heat and keep moisture in the ground.
With hot, sunny days punctuated by cold Alpine winds, Chateauneuf benefits from an optimal Mediterranean climate. However, the wind or "mistral" is so strong the vines are pruned very low to the ground for protection. Almost 90% of the wines here are reds, mostly blends of Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah among others from the 13 approved varieties in the appellation. Châteauneuf-du-Pape was the first appellation to set strict quality controls on vineyard location, alcohol, grape selection and yields, a precursor to the guidelines established by other regions such as Bordeaux. With yields among the lowest in France, the wines are spicy, dense, and flavorful with a cherry or raspberry core surrounded by earthy, gamey, leathery and smoky nuances. Wines from Châteauneuf-du-Pape are ageworthy and at their best among the most interesting and enjoyable wines in the world.