Monday, March 7, 2016

Châteauneuf Wine Fest is April 2 & 3

The weekend wine festival called Printemps de Châteauneuf-du-Pape, now in its seventh year, is a festive rite of spring here in the South of France. This year it's Saturday and Sunday, April 2 and 3, with a special day on Monday April 4 (9:30 am to 2:30 pm) for wine-industry professionals. Roughly 85 domaines and châteaux will be represented, making this a wonderful opportunity to meet local producers while tasting their latest releases and a few smashing older vintages. It’s also an easy way to buy the wines you love, some of them normally quite difficult to get. 

This year, the fest celebrates the 80th anniversary of Châteauneuf's designation as one of the very first AOCs (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée) in France.  The AOC decree was first created by Pierre Le Roy de Boiseaumarié (aka baron Le Roy), a winemaker at Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Château Fortia). That first year, there were five villages named: Châteauneuf, Monbazillac, Arbois, Cassis and Tavel.  

Each year the Printemps festival invites special winemaker guests from other regions so this year's guests of honor will be winemakers from the four other "first" AOC villages. (For an AOC update, see below.)

In years past, the tasting workshops (Les Ateliers Dégustation) at the festival have been super popular and this year seems no exception; two of three have already sold out. Last I checked there was still space left in the one called "Eraflé ou Non-Eraflé ? Telle est la question ..." which delves into the differences between "stemmed" and "non-stemmed" wines. For almost 20 years, two wine making styles have distinguished the cellars of Châteauneuf: The modern method (de-stemming) and the old-school (keeping the stems or the whole grape cluster).  The workshop is Saturday at 3 pm (30€); sign up online.

Les Printemps is organized by by The Young Winemakers Association of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and takes place at the Salle Dufays on the Place de la Renaissance in Châteauneuf. Hours are 10 am to 7 pm both days. Your 10€ ticket (pay at the door) gets you in all weekend and includes a tasting glass. There will be free parking...indoor and outdoor play areas for the kids...and food available on site.

For all the info click here and follow the festival on Facebook  and Twitter. If you have questions, you can email:

For general info about the wines of Châteauneuf, the village and the region, click here and here.  Or, you can call the Tourist Office: 04 90 83 71 08.

FYI about AOC: The European designation AOP (Appellation d’Origine Protégée) is slowly replacing the French AOC for agricultural expect to see more AOP on wine labels in the months to come. Read more here and here.

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