Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a well known French wine area (AOC) located around the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the Rhône wine region in southeastern France. Vineyards are planted around Châteauneuf-du-Pape and in the neighbouring villages Bédarrides, Courthézon and Sorgues between Avignon and Orange and cover approx 3,200 hectares.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape roughly translates to "The Pope's new castle" and, indeed, the history of this appellation is firmly entwined with papal history. In 1308, Pope Clement V, former Archbishop of Bordeaux, relocated the papacy to the town of Avignon. Clement V and subsequent ‘Avignon Popes’ were said to be great lovers of Burgundy wines and did much to promote it during the seventy-year duration of the Avignon Papacy.
At the time, wine-growing around the town of Avignon was anything but memorable and largely for local consumption. Clement V was succeeded by John XXII who, as well as Burgundy wine, regularly enjoyed wines from the vineyards to the north and did much to improve viticultural practices. The wines of this area came to be known as "Vin du Pape", later to become Châteauneuf-du-Pape. John XXII is also responsible for building the famous castle which stands as a symbol for the appellation.
Vineyards can reach 120m in the northern part, and the characteristic terroir of Châteauneuf-du-Pape comes from a layer of stones called galets (pebbles). The stone retains heat during the day and releases it at night which can have an effect of improving the ripening of grapes. The stones can also serve as a protective layer to help retain moisture in the soil during the dry summer months.
The original Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC rules allowed 10 varietals, which were amended to 13 in 1936, and 18 in 2009, since white, rosé and black versions of some grapes are now clearly listed as separate varieties. Red varieties; Cinsaut, Counoise, Grenache Noir, Mourvèdre, Muscardin, Piquepoul Noir, Syrah, Terret Noir, and Vaccarèse. White and pink varieties are Bourboulenc, Clairette Blanche, Clairette Rose, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Picardan, Piquepoul Blanc, Piquepoul Gris and Roussanne.