Lifestyle

A Gorgeous Rh?ne White


While the region is best-known for its reds, the 2008 Domaine Nalys Ch?teauneuf-du-Pape Blanc shows its whites can be brilliant too

"We are not in the style of white Ch?teauneuf which uses a lot of oak; we prefer to emphasize the minerality we get from the terroir." These are the words of Isabelle Ogier, spokesman for Domaine de Nalys, in the southern French wine region of Ch?teauneuf-du-Pape. CNP is primarily known for its red wines??hich is hardly surprising, as they comprise more than 90 percent of total production. This one-sided allocation, though, disguises the fact that the white wines of the region can be spectacular, as this week's Wine of the Week, the Domaine Nalys Ch??teauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2008 ($33), clearly demonstrates. Nalys is an anomaly in the region in that it has earned a reputation for its whites, which make up fully 15 percent of its production. The domaine is dramatically situated on the high eastern plain of the appellation, with stunning views of both the town and the Rhone river to the west, and Mont Ventoux to the east. It was on a visit to this stunning property in the summer of 2009 that I first tasted their 2008 white. It had only just been bottled, and while it showed wonderful fruit, it was still closed and tightly wrapped. As Ogier explained: "We don't have big volume at this stage. It really needs more aging to be at its optimum." The truth of her observation was apparent when we tasted the 2005. It was gorgeous??ound and generous??nd just beginning to develop those notes of mushrooms and honey, dried almonds, and white peaches, which are characteristic of older CNP whites. It retained an amazing freshness??nd that minerality Ogier referred to??hile at the same time managing intriguing hints of rancio. Ah, I thought, the perfect wine for truffles. I revisited the 2008 again a couple of weeks ago, and it was now pleasurably apparent that this is a wine with a similarly remarkable, even decadent destiny. So buy a case, and enjoy watching the wine evolve and mature over the next five years. When to Drink: Now and for the next five years

Breathing/Decanting: One our breathing helps it open up

Food Pairing: White fish, meaty fish, chicken, and pasta. Pork.

Grapes: Primarily Grenache Blanc, Clairette, and Bourboulenc.

Appellation: Ch??teauneuf-du-Pape

Region: Rh??ne

Country: France

Price: $33

Availability: Limited

Web Site: www.domainedenalys.com

Nick Passmore is an independent wine writer and consultant based in New York. For five years he contributed a widely read monthly wine column to Forbes.com, in addition to which his work has appeared in such publications as Forbes, Discover, Town Country, the Robb Report, the Wine Enthusiast, Saveur, Sky, and Golf Connoisseur. He is currently Artisanal Editor for Four Seasons magazine and contributes the Nick Passmore: Wine of the Week column to Businessweek.com. He is also a judge at the widely respected annual Critics' Challenge wine competition.

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