- Publish Date: Mar 9, 2010
What’s not to like about the words “Châteauneuf-du-Pape?” Seeing the embossed letters and crest on a bottle evoke thoughts of hot summers in the south of France, beautiful villages, and rich, full-bodied blends of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Mourvedre. But the beautiful bottles of wine would not exist, if not for a rather significant piece of world history.
The episode begins in 1305, when a deadlock in the College of Cardinals was finally broken with the election of Bertrand de Got as Pope Clément V. De Got was a Frenchmen, rather than an Italian, and in a show of French nationalism, he moved the seat of the church to Avignon.
But Avignon’s "brutal summers" soon led to the establishment of a country retreat, and Clément chose a site ten miles north of the city on a plateau overlooking the Rhône River. He named it Châteauneuf-du-Pape, "the new castle of the Pope." Clément's successor, John XXII, first planted vineyards there, and his papacy’s enormous prosperity was partly due to the superb wines of the summer retreat.
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