I have not written about wine in any of my blogs for good reasons. A number of my friends wrestle with alcoholism and a number of other friends are committed teetotalers. Therefore, I have thought it best to omit all references to drinking and wine from my blog.
But yesterday we had a wine experience that needs telling. In 1995 a young French boy stayed in our home in Minnesota for the month of July. It was a cultural challenge to keep a 15 year old boy engaged with our lives. At that point I was sine-ignorant. So the fact that his father owned a vineyard in Chateau Neuf du Pape was meaningless to me. He brought us two bottles of wine that we drank and I thought were pretty good.
Then we started going to France in 2000 every other year and I began to appreciate wine. We spent time in the Bordeaux region of France, the Languedoc region and the Cotes du Rhones region. We visited Julien at his father’s vineyard each time we came to France. And each time we learned more and more.
Chateau Neuf du Pape means the “new chateau of the Pope” for the time in the early 1300s when the Papacy moved from Italy to France under Pope Clement Vth and descended into all sorts of conspiracies and intrigue. The papacy stayed in France until 1376 when the papacy permanently moved back to Rome.
But what the papal court did during that time was to annex vineyards for the pope’s use. This vintage of wine called “Chateau Neuf du Pape” has become one of the finest wines in all of France. What makes it so outstanding is it’s style of viticulture: stony soil, harsh summer heat, no irrigation, no fertilizers or pesticides; all natural. The vine I am standing by has a root system that goes down up to 50 feet.
The wine’s chief characteristic is its terroir; its taste of the territory or soil. We visited Julien again yesterday. He gave us coffee and invited us back next week for dinner at his home and to meet his fiancé. He is now importing his wines to the USA under the name Domaine La Barroche and you can see more about this most interesting wine at www.domainelabarroche.com. By the way, Robert Parker gave his wine 100 points!!