Château La Nerthe

This ancient estate, and one with a glorious past that is now being relived, celebrates a documented history dating back to 1560 and embraces a beautiful château built in 1760, all surrounded by 92 hectares in a holding that contains all of the 14 permitted grape varieties of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation -both red and white.

This sustainably farmed property, which has been certified organic since 1998, is now owned by the Ricard family (of pastis fame!) and they put the excellent Alain Dugas in charge when they took over in 1985.

With their backing, he set about returning the property to a former glory from which it had retreated in the years immediately preceding their takeover. Consequently replanting and a good deal of investment in new equipment was the order of the day.

The terroir here is superb, on a site between Vieux Télégraphe and Fortia and consisting of galette-strewn sandy clay on the slopes of the plateau of Le Crau. Here the vines enjoy more than 200 days of sun a year, making for a Mediterranean climate that has no difficulty in ripening the various grape varieties, and harvesting is a little earlier than at many estates.

The hand-picked fruit arrives at cellars dug into the rock in the 16th century, finding its way into a mixture of very modern stainless steel and some old concrete tanks. There is modernity too in the longer vatting times and use of small oak barriques for maturation, and none of the wines are filtered.

The La Nerthe style shows the finer qualities of Châteauneuf: this is no southern bruiser but rather a fine, elegant wines with great concentration and depth of flavour, not to mention sheer class!

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