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10 Aug 2022 | Samantha Dugan

PUT AWAY THE POLISH

“I’ve not an idea what is happening in my own region” the straight faced and furrowed brow of Anne Charlotte Melia-Bachas, winemaker for Chateau de la Font du Loup in Chateauneuf-du-Pape, one of France’s most praised red wine growing regions. I had taken the appointment with one of my favorite French sales reps, more as a favor than because I particularly wanted to taste the wines, that was until I met the wildly charming and fiercely honest Anne Charlotte and tasted her wines. Her wavy auburn hair, the funky lime green frames of her spectacles, her earnest words floating across the table like music to my ears, “I’ve not an idea what is happening in my own region”

I, too, had no idea what was going on in Chateauneuf-du-Pape and had pretty much written the region off as a press ruined bastion of over oaked and highly alcoholic red wine. A once noble growing region seemed to willingly succumb to the seduction of receiving high scores from wine critics and what’s the best way to stand out in a tasting lineup? Yeah, increase extraction, ripeness, alcohol and slam the wine in expensive oak. Stand out it will, but stand out at the dinner table, with food, or stand out as a perfect representation of your region? Welp, nope. All that dense fruit, hot to the tongue booze and vanilla-rich oak does not allow for terroir, or regional typicity. Obliterates in fact so those of us that crave wines that speak their accent, or sense of place, we were left behind by those over-polished andplaceless wines.

I spent over an hour with Anne Charlotte that afternoon. We talked, she shared her disappointment with the nearly unrecognizable wines her neighbors were cranking out and she spoke to how grateful she was to have her winery situated in the northern most part of Chateauneuf-du-Pape where the weather is far cooler with soils that are more sandy than stony, so less susceptible to having the hot summer sun-baked galettes, (large flat stones in the vineyards) hold the heat against the vines, therefore getting less intense ripeness. I felt her passion for Chateauneuf-du-Pape in her words and most assuredly in each of her wines that I sipped on, remembering how utterly delectable classically structured Southern Rhone wines can be when they are balanced, true to place and not trying to catch the attention of some wine critic tasting through 40 wines in one sitting. Both were so refreshing,and I fell in love with Chateauneuf-du-Pape again, at least with the wines from Chateau de la Font du Loup. I get what I can, (she doesn’t make a ton) each vintage, and they are often the first gone as I cannot stop telling people about them.

New releases just arrived and believe me when I tell you, our customers have also fallen for the wines from this extraordinary domaine so they will not last long.

2020 Chateau de la Font du Loup Cotes du Rhone (only 3 cases available)   $25.99

Now I know most of our Cotes du Rhone sell for $15.00 and under, and we love them for their playful lovability and juicy friendliness but this wine here, this is a whole other animal. Think baby Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Like elegant and noble, not polished, and gooey, Chateauneuf-du-Pape and that is what you find here. I was only able to 3 cases this vintage, but I assure you, if anyone passes on their allocation, I will be nabbing it as soon as I can. There is a maturity to this wine. Like all the other little Cotes du Rhone were out playing in the hot vineyard sun and this one, this one was busy learning, exploring the terroir and developing. Packed with flavor but not clumsy with ripeness or oak. Ethereal in fact. Dammit, I wish I had gotten more. Don’t wait, you will thank me later.

2020 Chateau de la Font du Loup Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc (only 6 bottles available)  $62.99

Made from Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Clairette and Bourbelanc, this is a wildly aromatic white wine from Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Fairly round and full in the mouth with a sexy, almost oily texture. Tons of stone fruit, herbs, honeysuckle, and citrus. Long on the finish, this wine needs big flavors to serve with it.

2020 Chateau de la Font du Loup Chateauneuf-du-Pape $59.99 (only 2 cases available)

One rarely thinks of grace when they think Chateauneuf-du-Pape these days but there is no more fitting term for this regal wine than that, grace. Heavily perfumed with joyful Grenache aromatics folded into wild dried herbs an dried flowers. Light and almost bouncy on the palate with all that pretty fruit but also stones and cracked white pepper. Nearly lacy in texture with a breathtakingly elegant linger. If there is a prettier Chateauneuf-du-Pape on the planet, well I don't know what it is.

2019 Chateau de la Font du Loup Puy Rolland $74.99 (only 1 case available)

100% old vine Grenache this is one of the most elegant Chateauneuf-du-Pape I have ever had. Graceful fruit, beautiful spice, black pepper and a faint meaty note. Gentle tannin make this wine a sheer pleasure to drink. Serve with simple roasted meats, hearty cheeses or just on its own. Gorgeous. 

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