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If you’re a lover of food, an interest in wine seems a natural flow on. I have no training or expertise in this area, but I’ve been privileged to share many vinous occasions with winemakers, wine writers, wine educators and enthusiastic amateurs and I like to think a little of their knowledge has rubbed off on me.
I confess though, I’ve had limited exposure to European wines. I’ve quaffed vino locale in Italy, supped Rioja in Spain, guzzled vinho tinto in Portugal. My exposure to French wines has mainly focussed on Champagne.
Recently, my interest was piqued by a post at Flora’s Table about Chateauneuf Du Pape purely and simply because an Aussie red wine that’s dear to my heart, “Nine Popes” by Charles Melton Wines in South Australia’s Barossa Valley, is styled on this regional specialty.
It’s maker, Charlie Melton himself, takes great pride in his red wines. Nine Popes is considered his flagship. While other Barossa producers were pulling out grenache, shiraz (syrah) and mouvedre vines in the 1980s young gun Melton persisted and produced a blend inspired by the Southern Rhone specialty, Chateauneuf Du Pape. Today Charles Melton’s Nine Popes is considered a leading example of this wine style.
Out of curiosity I decided to taste Nine Popes beside a bottle of Rhone Valley Chateauneuf Du Pape. Stefano at Flora’s Table recommeded Domaine Chante Cigale as a good benchmark. I was able to procure the 2011 vintage. Nine Popes wasn’t released in 2011 so we chose to taste the 2010 vintage for comparison.
Three of us, all enthusiastic wine lovers, assessed these wines using the International Sommeliers Association Simplified Wine Tasting Chart available to download at Flora’s Table.
We tasted in two rounds. The first measure we tasted immediately after opening the bottles, without food. We then decanted the remainder and served the balance of the wines with a meal. It should be noted that the French wine was sealed with cork, the Australian wine had a Stelvin closure.
|First Taste||Domaine Chante Cigale 2011 65% Grenache, 20% Shiraz, 10% Mouvedre, 5%Cinsault||Charles Melton Nine Popes 2010 23% Grenache, 73% Shiraz, 4% Mouvedre|
|Sight||Vibrant ruby with a rusty tinge on the rim. Moderate viscosity||Clear deep garnet with a vibrant rim.Moderate viscosity|
|Scent||Restrained nose of some complexityvanilla, allspice, roast beef, burnt toast||Intense, complex noseblood plums, black pepper, blackberries|
|Taste||Dry, slighly acidic, Moderately tannic Restrained palate with medium finishSavoury complexity. Focus on the front palate||Dry, full bodied and velvety smooth. Well balanced with long persistent finishJuicy berry fruits, licorice|
|OverallImpression||Tight structure, Needs to breath||Mouthfilling, fruity velvety|
|SecondTaste||Domaine Chante Cigale 2011||Charles Melton Nine Popes 2010|
|Scent||Still restrained, hint of blackberries, toasty,white pepper||Intensely fruity- blackcurrants, blood plums, peppery spice|
|Taste||Savoury complexity with a touch of white pepper and warm spices. Subtle blood plum fruitiness. Short finish, medium persistenceFine tannins. Elusive complexity||Assertive ripe berry fruits with spicy overtones. Velvety, warm and mouth filling, long finish and persistence.|
|Overall||An elegant wine of subtle complexity that would benefit from further bottle age.We found this wine hard to pin down and classiify. This added to its mystique and enjoyment||A magnificent wine from a classic vintage drinking at it’s peak. Bold complexity and velvety mouthfeel.The greater proportion of shiraz in Nine Popes makes it a more assertive wine.|
The retail price of the french wine was $70AU, comparable to the current 2012 Nine Popes release price of $66AU for mailbox members.