Chateauneuf du Pape and Alternatives

Many of us enjoy Chateauneuf du Pape along with other Rhone wines.  Unfortunately, many of these wines can be expensive.   There are ways, however, to enjoy wines similar to your favorites without the big price tag.

For those of us who are not familar with Chateauneuf du Pape (CDP), it is an area in the southern Rhone Valley, France, which lies between Orange and Avignon.  Pope Clement V moved the papacy here in 1308, and his love of wine helped improve viticulture in the area.  The grapes and wines improved over time to become a world renowned product.  It is made in both white and red styles with Grenache being the primary grape, though up to 13 varietals can be used in the blend.

Since CDPs can go from $30-200+, it can be difficult to drink as much as one may like.  That is where the alternatives come in.  Look for Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Rasteau, and Lirac wines.  These are all towns in close proximity to CDP which produce similar wines though Lirac produces lighter styles.  The pictured wine is Domaine de la Maurelle Gigondas 2004 which I purchased on special at Binny's for $15.  It had very good cherry, leather, earth, and was easy drinking.

You can also look for Côtes du Rhône, and Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages for better quality.  My favorite for under $15 is Guigal Cotes du Rhone.  Good hunting!