There is an instant impulse to grab the big rocks as we drive into Chateau Mont-Redon or better still be photographed with these big gibbers. I did.
We are travelling into the southern Rhone to visit the land of mouth-embracing warm area reds in Chateauneuf du Pape (CNDP).
And our host is a jovial fellow, Pierre Fabre who travels the world to discuss the family business at Chateau Mont-Redon.
Now these gibbers; well this is the soil these guys are dealt. Walk up closer and I am relieved to say there is sand between the rocks where these old vines (no trellis) grow as bushes. There is no water supply save a deep root system to survive the blistering summer.
Some vineyards have these big pebbles, others are chalky known as calcare here for limestone. The mother rock comes from ancient sea deposits going down up to 200 m in parts, it depended on the sea depth, adding more clay; the pebbles were the river bed; once wider and of European Alps origin; now only the big rocks are left.
There are three large appellations in France: Saint Emilion with 5000 hectares, Chablis with 4000 ha, then Chateauneuf du Pape with 3200 ha. It tracks one side of the Rhone River for 200 km and at a maximum only 20 km wide. Thirteen grapes are grown.
Mont-Redon started life in 1923 with 2 ha, and now has grown to 150 ha, including a 1997 purchase in Lirac nearby. This is the home of grenache, a special yet thin skinned grape which needs hanging late to ripen, and any late summer rain is disastrous though rare.
Chateauneuf is known mainly for blended red production from grenache, syrah and mourvedre though white is 5% of the surface. Mont-Redon make 15% of their production white, from blends of grenache blanc (main variety), clairette, roussanne, picpoul and the latter bourboulenc for acidity.
Significant exporters like this company receives a greater demand for white wine styles as countries like Australia and USA are big white wine consumers. They are a fullsome drink.
I just loved the Chateau Mont-Redon Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2012 (AUD ); lots of lovely bits to enjoy, sniff the aroma, it smells of the earth of the region, little flowers, spicy-black pepper grenache notes, all yummy and not a sip taken! Has lots of depth, velvet tannins that slip around the mouth, a great spice warmth; 95% is the grenache-syrah-mourvedre mix with 5% of old school varieties left in the older vineyard which are inter-planted.
Pierre could not resist being a good host so he opened some older bottles of the famous wine; 2007 and 2005 CNDP, both nice and rounded harvests to really enjoy.
Chateau Mont-Redon Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2007 looks classic; more reds than purples, wine in harmony with itself; this bottle has not left the property, nose sweetened from an improvement in the bottle; nice brioche, honey-raisin, then an expanding palate of puckering spice, jam notes and the pleasant experience. Served unlabelled but easily identified.
Uncorked’s travel guests visit Chateau Mont-Redon winery and vineyard in the Southern Rhone on the France Wine and Food Tour, and get to have their pic taken amongst the gibbers.