Châteauneuf-du-Pape isn't and shouldn't be cheap, but if you compare it with classed-growth Claret and any half-decent Burgundy, it represents great value for 'Grand Vin'. A case in point are the wines of the Boisson family's Domaine du Père Caboche, which we have been shipping since 1985 when they really were grande valeur. Their white Châteauneuf' is made from a blend of 40% Clairette, 30% Bourboulenc and 15% each of Grenache Blanc and Roussanne that is vinified in stainless steel vats and spring bottled on its youthful fruit. The finished wine has yellow plum and citrus scents and a sensuous palate of stone fruit offset by fresh acidity. It makes for an uplifting aperitif and versatile partner to seafood or poultry dishes. The principal 'Domaine' bottling of red Châteauneuf' is blended from a base of Grenache Noir, Syrah and Mourvèdre along with a smattering of other grape varieties. It is remarkably forward-drinking with ripe garrigue berry scents and a juicy black fruit palate with peppery undertones and fondant tannins. Not to be overlooked is a prestige cuvée 'Elisabeth Chambellan' that hails from a parcel of mature rootstock on 'La Crau' plateau. It too is from a Grenache Noir, Syrah and Mourvèdre blend and has much the same signature slick, ripe fruit appeal but it is deeper, darker and more age-worthy and will cellar well for 10-15+ years.
The Boissons near neighbours – brother and sister François and Claire Michel – are also producing some critically acclaimed wines at Le Vieux Donjon. Their Châteauneuf' blanc is a blend of Clairette and Roussanne and has a beguiling wild flower and apricot bouquet and a ripe stone fruit palate offset by nervy mineral notes. Their single bottling of red shows the appellation in a very pure light with a wealth of wild herb and berry scents and flavours, a core of dark autumnal fruit and a fine framework of tannins. It comes into its own at 3-5 years of age and will age gracefully thereafter for a further decade or more.