Chateauneuf – Le Fiacre du Pape 2007

One of those easy-going, unpretentious Chateauneufs that take me right back to hot, sunny afternoons sitting under a plane tree in a dusty village square as old men toss boules back and forth on the sand and smoke filter-less cigarettes of dark Turkish tobacco, simultaneously solving the nation’s political crises and passing judgment
on the current starlets gracing the silver screens and the beaches of San Tropez a few hundred kilometers to the south.

Perversely in keeping with my mood at the end of this 90-degree day in Southern California, the final glass from this bottle has suffered the sacrilege
of an ice-cube dropped into it by my host. My knee-jerk reaction of shock quickly gave way to his logic – the wine had been open for a day, it was too warm, and one cube of ice really wasn’t going to ruin it.

He was right. The wine would have been heavy and dull if we’d drunk it too warm, and if anything the ice softened some of the harsher tannins that were hanging about. There’s a rusticity to this wine with hints of barnyard in the background, but the emphasis is solidly on nice, ripe fruit – red cherry, currant, burnt raspberry – with just enough spice to make it interesting. Yesterday when it was freshly opened the spice was more dominant, but now it’s mellowed.

For $18, this is a great little wine from Trader Joe’s – definitely the light and fruity end of the Chateauneuf spectrum, but very nicely made and well balanced, doing what it’s supposed to do; give pleasure and compliment summer foods.


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