05 Jan Please The Palate Wine of the Week: Château La Nerthe 2019 Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc
The wines of Châteauneuf du Pape are beloved for their powerful, full-bodied red wines made from a blend of grapes including Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre. But there is also the Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc, a prestigious, yet rare, white wine made with the white grapes of the Rhône, including Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Clairette Blanche, Bourboulenc, Picpoul Blanc, and more. These wines are rare, and many do not know white wine is ever produced there, because they only make up seven percent of the total production in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. So when you open up one of these beautifully rich, full-bodied white wines, you know you have a special wine as I did when I opened the Château La Nerthe 2019 Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc, the Please The Palate wine of the week.
Château La Nerthe, located in southeast France, has been producing wine for five centuries. One of the oldest and largest estate of Châteauneuf du Pape, there are 220 acres of organically certified vineyards, divided into more than 57 plots planted to thirteen grape varieties of the appellation.
Prior to the phylloxera outbreak in the 1870s, white wine was half the production of Châteauneuf du Pape. Records from as far back as 1786 reflect that white wines from Châteauneuf du Pape actually sold for a premium over red wines. Unfortunately, post-phylloxera, white wine production is not dominant in Châteauneuf du Pape, accounting for only seven percent. But at Château La Nerthe, Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc is still important and makes up fifteen percent of the total production.
The Château La Nerthe Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc is a blend of 40% Grenache blanc, 34% Roussanne, 20% Clairette Blanche, and 6% Bourboulenc from different plots. This blend of grapes and different terroirs adds to the beauty and complexity of the wine. The Roussanne is fermented in large oak barrels, 1/3 new, and aged on the less for almost nine months. The Grenache Blanc, Clairette Blanche, and Bourboulenc are directly pressed and co-fermented in stainless steel. After Spring, the wine is blended together and spends a few months together before bottling.
The Château La Nerthe 2019 Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc is a pale yellow color with aromas of stone fruits, ripe red apples, lemon, and white flowers. On the palate, the wine is elegantly rich with delicate acidity and fresh minerality. It is such an aromatic and balanced wine and an excellent wine to pair with dishes ranging from fish with butter sauce to chicken or even veal. Retailing for approximately $60, it is rare but available in retailers across the US. This is definitely a wine to seek out!