Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a well known AOP wine producing area, located around the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the Rhône wine region in south-eastern France. The vineyards that cover around 3200 hectares are planted around Châteauneuf-du-Pape and in the neighbouring villages Bédarrides, Courthézon and Sorgues between Avignon and Orange.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape roughly translates to 'The Pope's New Castle' - and the history of this appellation is well entwined with papal history. In 1308, Pope Clement V, former Archbishop of Bordeaux, relocated the Papacy to the town of Avignon. Clement V and subsequent ‘Avignon Popes’ were said to be great lovers of Burgundy wines and did a lot to promote it during the seventy-year duration of the Avignon Papacy.

 

At the time, wine production around the town of Avignon was less than memorable and largely for local consumption. Then Clement V was succeeded by John XXII - who regularly enjoyed wines from the vineyards to the north and did much to improve viticultural practices in the area. The wines of this area came to be known as 'Vin du Pape', later to become Châteauneuf-du-Pape. John XXII is also responsible for building the famous castle which stands as a symbol for the appellation.
Vineyards can reach 120m above sea level in the northern part, and the characteristic terroir of Châteauneuf-du-Pape comes from a layer of stones called galets (pebbles). The stones retain heat during the day and released in the early evening, which can have an effect of improving the ripening of the grapes. The large stones also serve as a protective layer to help retain moisture in the soil during the dry summer months.
The original Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC rules allowed 10 varietals, which were amended to 13 in 1936, and 18 in 2009, since white, rosé and dark versions of some grapes are now clearly listed as separate varietals. Red varietals; Cinsaut, Counoise, Grenache Noir, Mourvèdre, Muscardin, Piquepoul Noir, Syrah, Terret Noir, and Vaccarèse. White and pink varietals are Bourboulenc, Clairette Blanche, Clairette Rose, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Picardan, Piquepoul Blanc, Piquepoul Gris and Roussanne.