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Mention Châteauneuf-du-Pape to wine geeks and they will usually think of big, rich red blends. But did you know that around 6% of the annual production in this region is white Châteauneuf-du-Pape?
This full-blown Mediterranean region hardly seems like the place for white wines. Despite the climatic challenges, there are world-class whites being made in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The gold standard for white Châteauneuf-du-Pape is the Château de Beaucastel, Roussanne Vielles Vignes (which happens to be one of the most memorable whites I’ve had in recent years). However, there are a number of exciting examples worth checking out.
White Châteauneuf-du-Pape tends to be full-bodied and phenolic. The white grapes used are not overly aromatic, but the warm climate allows plenty of fruit to show through. I find that many examples have an attractive note of sun-baked rocks. Levels of acidity vary, some wines can feel too fat while others have the perfect citrus lift.
Producers use combinations of stainless steel, tank, and barrels to ferment and age the wines. So some wines are made to be crispy and fresh while others have the added structure of oak. Most producers make white Châteauneuf-du-Pape that should be consumed within the first few years of release, although there are long-lived examples being made.
White Châteauneuf-du-Pape: The Grape Varieties
The AOC rules allow any proportion of 18 different grape varieties to be included in red Châteauneuf-du-Pape (expanded from 13 varieties in 2009). Of these 18 grape varieties, 9 of them are white grapes. The Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC is unique in the fact it allows for white grapes to be blended with red grapes. The appellation also allows any proportion of grapes in the blend.
Most white Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines will be made of one or a combination of four grapes: Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Bourboulenc, and Clairette. The former two give the traditional Rhône flavors while the latter two add acidity to the blend. The five minor white grapes permitted are Clairette Rosé, Grenache Gris, Picardin, Picpoul Blanc, and Picpoul Gris.
White Châteauneuf-du-Pape Prices
Châteauneuf-du-Pape has a number of factors that do not allow for low prices. First is the cost of land, which now goes for 500,000 Euros per hectare and up. Expensive land equals expensive wine. The Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC also has some of the lowest yield restrictions in Europe. Fewer grapes from expensive land equals a small quantity of wine.
Don’t expect to spend less than 40 USD for a bottle. Overall, standard white Châteauneuf-du-Pape is usually a little more expensive than standard red Châteauneuf-du-Pape. If you are willing to make the splurge, expect a mouthful of unique flavors and intense concentration.
You can find out more about our scoring system on the WINE RATING page.
- Domaine du Calcernier, Châteaneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2019
The Domaine du Calcernier, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2019 is a blend of Grenache Blanc, Clairette, and Roussanne only in stainless steel. This is crispy for a CdP Blanc. Notes of grass, white peach, stone, lemon, and white pepper. The stone fruit and grass hit upfront with the baked mineral notes of the finish. For a fresh white, it’s full-bodied. With another year in the bottle, this should blossom into a star. Score: 88/100
- Domaine Galevan, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2017
The Domaine Galevan, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2017 is an old-school white wine made from Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Bourboulenc, and Roussanne partially barrel fermented and aged. This has a minimal intervention feel to it. The wood comes on strong here at first. Other notes include honey, sage, white peach, sliced apricot. The alcohol sticks out a bit on the nose and the palate. Full-bodied white with an oily texture and a long, stony flavored finish. It’s a nice wine, but the high alcohol detracts the score a bit. Score: 88/100
- Domaine des Pères de l’Eglise, ‘Le Calice de Saint Pierre’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2019
Domaine des Pères de l’Eglise is a wonderful under-the-radar producer. Their ‘Le Calice de Saint Pierre’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2019 is a blend of Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Bourboulenc, and Roussanne. Half of this cuvée is barrel fermented. The oak integration is fantastic here. It’s a full-bodied white that has more acidity than a typical Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc. Notes of yogurt, white peach, apricot, and flint. Rich mouthfeel with a long, sweet finish. Score: 93/100
- Domaine La Fagotière, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2019
This is another lesser-known producer that punches above its price point. the Domaine La Fagotière, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2019 is a blend of Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Roussanne, and Picpoul. Notes of lime, white peach, guava, and sun-baked stones. Full-bodied and ripe on the palate for a wine that doesn’t see oak. It’s got a zesty lemon feel. The acidity isn’t high here but it’s enough to keep the wine from feeling flat. Salty finish. Score: 91+/100
- Bosquet des Papes, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2019
One classic producer that excels every year is Bosquet des Papes. There Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc is a blend of Clairette, Grenache Blanc, and Bourboulenc partially aged in barrel. It’s a typical CdP Blanc style. A full-bodied white wine, typical Southern Rhône in style. Notes of lime, white peach, baked stone, and parched earth. Rich and phenolic, the fruit really sticks to your palate. It’s low in acidity but packed full of flavor. Score: 91/100
- Domaine Les Cailloux, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2018
The Domaine Les Cailloux Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc is one of the first whites that convinced Charine. Their Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc is a blend of Roussanne and Grenache Blanc aged in vat. Attractive notes of lime, sweet peach, mineral, and yogurt. There’s plenty of sweetness in the fruit here. Full in body, although it doesn’t see oak. The finish has a brilliant baked stone and lime note. There’s a lot here to like, just know that it’s not for acid freaks. Layered finish. Score: 92/100
- Domaine des Chanssaud, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2018
The Domaine des Chanssaud Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2018 is a pleasant surprise. This is a blend of Clairette and Roussanne. Wonderful notes of Rhône character with honey, yellow apricot, white peach, and sun-baked stones. There probably isn’t oak here but the wine is full in the mouth and bursting with flavor. Slightly bitter finish. This is in a great place now. Score: 91+/100
- Domaine Chante Cigale, ‘Extrait’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2018
We tasted the Domaine Chante Cigale, ‘Extrait’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2018 out of barrel and cement. It was impressive then and even more from the bottle. This is a 70/30 blend of Grenache Blanc and Roussanne. It is also aged in half cement egg and half in large oak. Wonderful notes of yellow peach, baked stones, yogurt, and sliced apricot. This is full-bodied and creamy on the palate. It’s got the perfect amount of body and texture. Slightly salty with a finish that a gritty texture and a hint of lemon. Score: 94/100
- La Bastide Saint Dominique, ‘La Chapelle’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2019
La Bastide Saint Dominique is a brand new producer to us and we’re impressed with all of their latest vintages. The ‘La Chapelle’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2019 is made from 100% Clairette Rosé, half of the cuvée is barrel fermented. This is a rich and intense with controlled concentration. The wine is full-bodied and intense with sandy tannins. Flavors include white peach, lime, baked stones, and a touch of oak. The wine tastes neutral at first but with time the fruit and complexities emerge. The acidity is low and the wine isn’t sharp. It will be interesting to see what this becomes with another year or two in the bottle. Score: 92/100
- Domaine Mas Saint Louis, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2017
Domaine Mas Saint Louis is a traditional producer from the region. Their Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc is a blend of Roussanne and Grenache Blanc, partially fermented in tank and partially barrel fermented. This is smoky with melon, white peach, lime, and sun-baked stones. Full-bodied and round on the palate, this is undeniably French in style. Powerful and persistent finish, this is in a great place now. Score: 91+/100
- Château Sixtine, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2019
The Chateau Sixtine, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc is 100% Roussanne, part of the cuvée is barrel fermented. It’s a wine that really surprised us. There are notes of white nectarine, lemon, baked stone, and yogurt. The wood integration here is flawless, it’s full-bodied and rich. This has the perfect balance of sweetness, acidity, and barrel. It’s young but so round and delicious. This is drinkable now and a few more years in bottle should do it wonders. Score: 93+/100
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