2004 Cuvée Marquis Anselme Mathieu
Red Blend • Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC
What we say
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Mission Codename: 400 Years of History… 125 Years of Vines
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Secure an exclusive allocation of a unique Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Domaine Mathieu
Wine Subject: 2004 Cuvée Marquis Anselme Mathieu
Winemaker: Andre Mathieu
Châteauneuf-du-Pape (CDP) is among this spy’s favorite Rhone wines. With each wine being a distinct blend of up to 13 different varietals (usually lead off with Grenache, France’s work-horse grape, with the trend leading to more Syrah and Mourvedre based blends). The name Châteauneuf-du-Pape dates back to the 14th century during the time of the dual papacy.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape comes in two distinct styles, the more traditional ’Old World’ (like this one) are dark, rich and spicy with firm tannins that lend these wines to cellaring; and the more contemporary fruit-forward style more reminiscent of New World wines.
This wine is 90% Grenache and made from vines that are over 125 years old, making this a truly unique old-world and old-vine classic. The 2004 vintage is just starting to fully develop and will continue to improve for years to come.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Clear dark garnet-red with pink and orange hues along the edges. When swirled, this wine appears slightly more viscous and slow thin legs grace the sides of the glass.
Smell – Well developed, medium in intensity and classically old-world in style, this wine’s bouquet leads off with spice, roasted herbs and floral lavender over a base of tart black fruit including black-cherry. Earthy notes and hints of wild fennel also emerge as you explore this wine’s deeply complex nose.
Feel – Full-bodied, smooth and dry and then this wine’s distinct minerality and spice hits. Fine grained but firm tannins and moderate acidity frame the warm feel and flavors.
Taste – Rich flavors of dark fruit including tart blackberry, black-cherry and hint of almost ripe plum that are well integrated with a complex array of dried herbs, floral lavender, wild fennel, toasted oak and spicy white pepper.
Finish – Medium long in length with lingering notes of its spicy pepper, fennel and tart fruit.
Conclusion – The 2004 Cuvée Marquis Anselme Mathieu is truly a unique and expressive old-world Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Spicy and rich, complex but well developed and integrated, this wine is the epitome of classic style. The Grenache in this wine (90%) comes from vines that are over 125 years old and the resulting wine has that distinctive old-vine character about it. This wine, with its earthy and spicy qualities is perfect for pairing with decadent raw-milk cheeses. We recommend letting this wine breathe for a little while to fully expose its complex nature.
Dateline: July 18, 2008.
Location: Nimes, France, near the Rhône Valley
Agent Terroir had done an exceptional job of getting me to see a few of the great mountain finishes on this year’s Tour de France. After three spectacular days in the Pyrenees. We had loosely followed the tour through the South. Next stop the Alps, but we still had a few days and with the tour stopping in the historic town of Nimes, famous for its Roman vestiges, the Maison Carrée (Square House temple), Magne Tower, and Pont du Gard bridge it seemed like a goo point to take stock in our journey.
Tomorrow’s stage would take us to Digne-les-Bains, but now, only a few miles from the great wine village of Châteauneuf du Pape (CDP) I decided to make a short visit.
When I mentioned my intentions to Agent Terroir his eyes grew big and there was a noticeable feeling of excitement in his face. He had connections in Châteauneuf du Pape. One in particular, the historic Mathieu family with their century old vineyards in Châteauneuf du Pape. Domaine Mathieu has been in making wine here for over 400 years.
I was most interested in special Cuvée CDPs. They are among the most unique and varied, and yet surprisingly accessible wines of the southern Rhône. A quick drive and we had arrived at Domaine Mathieu where we were immediately greeted by Andre Mathieu, the winemaker. Before we knew it we were in the tasting room, surrounded by a dozen glasses each, tasting a great selection. Oh, how this job is tough…
The best of which was a flight of their 2004 Cuvée Marquis Anselme Mathieu. For those unfamiliar with these great wines, they can be any permutation of up to 13 different varietals, but are mostly lead off with the Rhône’s dominant grape, Grenache. In this case, Domaine Mathieu CDP is mostly Grenache, from vines originally planted in 1890 with Syrah and Mourvedre along with the other approved varietals and is made in the traditional old-world style.
If you love rich, full-bodied, dark and spicy wines, be sure to pick up a few bottles of this extremely limited exclusive wine.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Domaine Mathieu in Courthézon (Châteauneuf-du-Pape) can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
Awards & Accolades:
4 Stars – Decanter Magazine
About This Wine:
This special cuvée is farmed on a small portion of their vineyard (2 ha. of the total 22 ha.) with all 13 allowed varietals planted. About 90% of the vineyard is Grenache and the vines were planted in 1890. Aged for about 18 months in foudres (larger oak barrels).
The Mathieu family have been present in Chateauneuf du Pape for 4 centuries.
The property owns 22 ha. AOC Chateauneuf du Pape and 4 ha. Cotes du Rhone. The cotes du Rhone fields are en Le Gres and those of Chateauneuf du Pape are divided in 50 parcels. Quote Parker: “I imagine that the harvest strategy at this estate is not unlike planning a major military invasion.”
The basic red Chateauneuf du Pape is produced from 18 ha. with 85% de Grenache, 5% Mourvèdre, 3% Syrah and 10 other allowed grape varieties. It’s aged for about 18 months in foudres. The average age of the vines is 65 years.
History of Châteauneuf du Pape:
Châteauneuf and the Papal tradition of planting vine Vine cultivation, already known to the Gauls, was widely developed by the Romans. Monks were the first to clear the land and cultivate these vineyards and Bishops were instrumental in extending vine cultivation. In 1157, in keeping with Roman tradition, Geoffrey, the Bishop of Avignon, planted vines and personally managed his own estate and was most certainly the owner of a vineyard located in his fief in Châteauneuf.
In the 13th century the village of Châteauneuf, with its 1000 inhabitants, grew rich and had already developed a flourishing vineyard (approximately 300 hectares).
In 1308, Clément V planted additional vine stock before he died some years later just after crossing the Rhône to return home. The Pope at Avignon was undoubtedly one of the first wine producers in Châteauneuf.
Under Pope John XXII, wine from Châteauneuf was regularly supplied to the Papal residence. John XXII was beyond doubt the prelate who participated most in developing the reputation of Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines and his legacy, the first appellation in the history of Châteauneuf, was the prestigious appellation of “Vin du Pape” that was later to become “Châteauneuf-du-Pape”.
John XXII was also responsible for building the famous castle. Today the remains of the proud Papas summer residence house the headquarters of the “Echansonnerie des Papes” a brotherhood that bears high and with pride the reputation of Châteauneuf-du-Pape . The final homage to this Papal lineage, the first to take pride in cultivating the sun-drenched fruit of their precious land.
A prosperous vineyard:
Despite a decline in the 17th century due to wars, heavy frosts, epidemics and other endemic diseases, the vineyards developed considerably from the 18th century onwards. In about 1800, 668 hectares that included 325 hectares of vines in small plots of approximately 1400 m2, produced, in a normal year, an average of 11 000 hectolitres of wines. The wine trade took on great importance and the inhabitants continued to plant new plots of land.
By virtue of the quality of its wine, Châteauneuf du Pape remained prosperous until the phylloxera disaster. Cultivation methods had varied little through the centuries. The first important charges occurred just before the outbreak of the second world war when mechanisation was first introduced.
Grape varieties: the first harmonious blends
Nothing is known of the vine stocks that made up the Châteauneuf vineyard before the 18th century, even though the poet Frédéric Mistral claimed that the “Counoise” grape variety was a gift from Spain to Pope Urbain V. In 1808, the vineyard was planted with old plants of local origin and new plants from Spain that produced “a warm-hearted but delicate wine that should be left to mature for four years”.
Around 1830, the first vine “with a fine plant known as Cirac” was cultivated at Châteauneuf du Pape. It was because of their desire to enhance their wines and improve quality that, as the years went by, the winegrower tried many new grape varieties. One thing of which we are certain is that for centuries, the vineyard was always planted with various grape varieties. When the phylloxera disaster struck in 1866, more than thirteen different grape varieties were on record. Grape variety diversification is the result of work by several generations of winegrower to select the vine stocks most likely to improve the quality of their wines.
At the end of the last century, Joseph Ducos grouped together on his estate ten carefully selected grape varieties. Even then, the characteristics and flavours of Châteauneuf wines were very varied and, like all Rhône Valley wines, generous.
Grenache and Cinsault for "sweetness, Warmth and mellowness. Mourvèdre, Syrah, Muscardin and Camarèse for robustness, maturity, colour and a thirst-quenching taste. Counoise and Picpoul for vinosity, charm and a special bouquet. Clairette and Bourboulenc for finesse, fire and brilliance.
The royal road: a flourishing trade.
From 1500 onwards, Châteauneuf wines acquired a certain reputation as can be seen from the many bills of sale made out to purchasers from Orange and Avignon. According to Nostradamus, other important prelates had wine shipped as far as Italy. In his history of Provence, he recounts the attack led by Parpaille (1562) against “Châteauneuf known as Châteauneuf-du-Pape, an area that produces most excellent wines, some of which are shipped to Rome”.
In 1793, the wine growers were able to sell their wine at one third above the maximum price for local, as “Châteauneuf wine is known to be of superior quality in all seasons”. The Marquis Tulle de Villefranche shipped his wines all over France, to Italy, Germany, Britain and also to Boston and Philadelphia in the United States. His wine was distributed through a network of agents so that it could become better known and appreciated by his aristocratic friends. He therefore played a very important role in promoting Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines.
Most winegrowers, like the Marquis, chose to give first priority to quality. It is therefore not surprising that by the end of the 18th century, trade was flourishing. There were already four wine merchants in Châteauneuf , and a great number of buyers came from Avignon, Orange, Carpentras and even from as far afield as Lyon. Barrels of wine were shipped to all parts of France from the port of Roquemaure and sometimes from Armeniers. Other were transported by road.
Frédéric Mistral sang the praises of Châteauneuf du Pape wine, which he had savoured when visiting his friend the Provençal poet, Anselme MATHIEU. Wine grower and poet, he was the first to have the brilliant idea of selling wines in bottles decorated with an attractive label bearing the words “Vin DI Filigree” followed by 5 lines of verse that included “Lou vin de castou noù souno la voio, emai lou cant, emai l’amour, emai la joio” (wine from Châteauneuf brings courage, melody, love and joy). Mistral delighted his fellow authors Lamartine, Alexandre Dumas, Alphonse Daudet together with a host of other celebrities who were to become the best possible ambassadors of this “royal, imperial and Papal wine”.