Part 2 of our journey to Provence focuses on Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a commune in the Vaucluse department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region in southeastern France. Famous for its eponymous red wine, the village lies about 3 kilometers to the east of the Rhône and 12 kilometers north of the town of Avignon.
Charming, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, (literally, “new castle of the Pope”) takes its name from its relationship to the Avignon Papacy (1309 AD to 1376 AD) and particularly for the Chateau built on a hilltop of the village in the 14th century for Pope John XXII, the second of the popes to reside in Avignon rather than in Rome. The ruined medieval castle dominates the landscape to the south. Interestingly, none of the subsequent Avignon popes stayed in Châteauneuf but after 1378 the anti-pope, Clement VII, sought the security of the castle.
Today, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, is recognized as one of the most renowned appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC – an official French wine region certification) of the southern part of the Rhône Valley. Vineyards are located around Châteauneuf-du-Pape and in the neighboring villages of Bédarrides, Courthézon and Sorgues between Avignon and Orange. The rocky vineyards cover slightly more than 7,900 acres. Nearly 3 million gallons of wine are produced here each year. More wine is made in Châteauneuf-du-Pape than in the entirety of the northern Rhône region.
We had the very good fortune to experience a tasting and tour at a family owned winery in Châteauneuf-du-Pape named Domaine de la Charbonnière. We had met Véronique Maret in Paso Robles, California in 2016 at an event called Hospice Du Rhône. Véronique and her sister Caroline were in the middle of crush when we arrived but they were very gracious and showed us around. The operation was similar to what we are familiar with in California and the wines were delicious.
We were so enthralled with Châteauneuf-du-Pape that we will visit additional wineries and villages during our upcoming visit to see the legendary lavender fields.