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CorksCru Wine Merchants

Domaine de Panisse (Rhone Valley, Courthezon)

AOC Chateauneuf-du-Pape

This past winter I had been visiting with vigneronne Veronique Lombardo in Lirac and casually asked her if she knew anyone making Chateauneuf-du-Pape that was actually good AND didn't cost more than $100. She stood up immediately and shouted, "Christine! I will go call her."

Before we finished lunch there was an email inviting me to taste wine the following morning. So I massaged my schedule and headed for the pretty Provençal village of Courthezon. There is where I met Christine and Jean-Pierre Oliver and heard a pretty remarkable story about their winery. 

In 1992 the French Government took over Domaine de Panisse with eminent domain and made plans to build a superhighway on it that would connect Avignon and Orange. But later that year the worst flooding in Rhone history found most of Chateauneuf under water and they rethought the plan. A year later the Olivers expatriated the vineyards and its 16th century Mas from the government and set about the work of restoring and renovating the whole dang thing.

Even though I spotted some construction materials here and there, twenty-something years later, I think they've finally finished!

Panisse is a family affair, Jean-Pierre takes care of the vines, Christine makes the wine, and daughter Fanny helps in the tasting room and with all the commercial parts. This is a really charming family and I immediately liked them. I think you will too. 

'Confidence Vigneronne' (loosely translated: Winemaker's Secret), comes from 70-year-old vines of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre. I found the wine to be rich, concentrated, fatty, and succulent. The Mourvedre gives a tinge of eucalyptus and the Syrah a crack of the pepper mill. But it's the Grenache, planted on sandstone, that winds this baby up and gives it that full-throttled Chateauneuf-i-ness that I really like.

Confidence Vigneronne is the only wine available from the difficult, but rewarding 2013 vintage. Even though Christine normally makes a high-end bottling, she dedicated only her best fruit to this wine. In fairness, it's a reserve-level cuvée for all intents and purposes. Additionally, there was NO wine in 2014, a very difficult year in which the Olivier's sold most of their fruit and decided to finish the winery renovations. Wow.

Okay, so I don't drink Chateauneuf-du-Pape on Tuesday with cheeseburgers (I probably should I guess) but this is a really amazing bottle to open just about any time. Its easy to imagine pulling a bottle of this out during the holidays to celebrate with friends. And at essentially half the price of most STARTING Chateauneuf prices, it gets even tastier!

Product  
Domaine de Panisse Châteauneuf-du-Pape Confidence Vigneronne 2015
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$42.00
 
SKU: PANCDPCV15
Panisse Cotes-du-Rhone 'Murmures des Vignes' 2016
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$15.00
 
SKU: PANCDRMUR16