White is not a color that most wine consumers associate with Chateauneuf-du-Pape, but beautiful it is in a glass of Chateau Mont-Redon, 2007.
Chateauneuf-du-Pape is a world-famous appellation in the southern section of France’s Rhone Valley. It’s fabled for its red wines, stony vineyards and proximity to Avignon, from which its name derives: Pope’s new castle. The papacy was relocated from Rome to Avignon in the 14th century, and John XXII built a summer house in Calcernier, the village that is now Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
Chateau Mont-Redon is also historic. Its name first appeared in a 1334 contract stipulating the vigneron’s (a vineyard worker) share of the harvest from “Mons Retundus.” Over the course of the next seven centuries, its name was refined to Mont-Redon, and the vineyards bought and sold until 1923 when Henri Plantin acquired some of the original parcels and created its current form. The third generation of his descendants, Jean and Francois Abeille and Didier Fabre, own and manage the estate today.
In May, Jean Abille and his New York-based son, Jerome, presented ten vintages of Chateau Mont-Redon’s excellent red Chateauneuf-du-Pape dating from 1978 to 2006. As enjoyable and remarkable as the red wines were, I found its 2007 white Chateauneuf-du-Pape a memory refresher. In the 1980s and 1990s, when I owned Le Delice and Sonoma Grill restaurants, respectively, I used to age Chateau Mont-Redon’s white Chateauneuf-du-Pape for about five years before putting it on the wine list. Few patrons knew there was a white wine from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and many were surprised to how delicious Chateau Mont-Redon’s white wine was with cellar age.
The wine has a yellowish tint and a gorgeous floral and fresh fruit scent. Like its red wine sibling, it is full-bodied with a tasty fruit and mineral character. Fermented in stainless steel and never touched by new oak barrels, the 2007 Chateau Mont-Redon retains its natural freshness. And adding to its aging potential is that the wine doesn’t go through malolactic fermentation — the process of changing the tart green apple-like acidity to a smooth, creamy acidity as found in milk.
Try a glass of the 2007 Chateau Mont-Redon white Chateauneuf-du-Pape with mushroom risotto, cheese fondue or grilled shrimp with mango salsa.
The 2007 Chateau Mont-Redon white Chateauneuf-du-Pape retails for approximately $39.