- Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rhône, France
Winemaker Baptiste Grangeon has been on a roll over the past decade with these wines from his family estate. These are ripe, powerful wines that never lose their Southern Rhône soul, and if anything, these latest 2016s and 2017s are more reserved and elegant than past vintages.- Jeb Dunnuck, www.jebdunnuck.com
Domaine de Cristia was established in 1942, with only two hectares of vines; at that time, all grapes were sold to négociants. When Baptiste Grangeon inherited the vineyards from his father in 1999, he was the first to bottle as Domaine de Cristia. Today, Baptiste manages the winery with his sister, Dominique, and they have gradually added vineyards over the years, to a total of 20 hectares of vines in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Ninety percent of their holdings are in the lieu-dit Cristia, with the remaining ten percent spread over three different areas. These parcels are comprised of varying soil-types, including sand, clay, limestone, and galets, and benefit from a cool, fresh north-easterly exposition which allows the grapes and wines to develop supple, elegant tannins. Their Syrah and Mourvèdre vines average 55 years old and the oldest Grenache is over 100 years old.
The domaine follows organic agriculture for all work in the vineyards and has been certified from the 2008 vintage. No chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides are used to treat the soils or the vines. Ploughing and weeding are practiced according to the blocks and the yields desired. Vines are treated with copper sulphate and sulphur occasionally blended with a nettle infusion/tea (four to five times a year). Only organic fertilizer (i.e., sheep manure) is used.
The grapes are selected in the vineyard and then destemmed before being put into vats. Three weeks of fermentation and maceration in concrete vats follow, with the use of indigenous yeasts. Temperatures are kept low in order to produce aromatic wines. They do not insist on any massive extraction, but prefer the ‘matière’ to express itself. Due to the work in the vineyards, the grapes possess enough concentration. The pressed juice and free-run juice are blended together according to the vintage. Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines are aged in concrete vats and barrels for a minimum of 18 months, while Côtes-du-Rhône and Vin de Pays are aged only in concrete vats for eight to 12 months. All of their wines are noteworthy for their finesse and elegance.