Wine of the week: a delicious and affordable Châteauneuf-du-Pape

A Châteauneuf-du-Pape from the owners of the most famous châteaux of all – for just £20.

2018 Close Encounters, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Famille Perrin, Southern Rhône, France 

£20, in 400 Co-op stores nationwide

This wine is absolutely delicious, it is only £20, it is a Châteauneuf-du-Pape made by the Perrin family – owners of the most famous CHNF (my time-saving abbreviation) of all, Château de Beaucastel – and it is available nationwide. My notes could, and probably should, end here because this is surely enough to get your vinous juices flowing. But there is a little more to the story.  

This wine is an homage to an homage. The label refers to a genuine CHNF by-law that prohibits UFOs (or cigare volant, literally “flying cigar” in French) from landing in their vineyards. Back in 1984 Californian wine legend Randall Grahm, owner of Bonny Doon Vineyard, launched a red wine called Le Cigar Volant made predominately from syrah and grenache, thereby introducing the US to the joys of Rhône varieties.

I remember selling the very first release of this wine at The Barnes Wine Shop back in 1987. Three and a half decades later the Perrins have decided to thank Randall for his vision by making Close Encounters, referencing US cinema and also Randall’s own stunning artwork on the label. The story shows just how much respect there is flowing around the wine world – I can almost taste the thought and love that has gone into this wine. Congratulations to Co-op for putting it on our shelves at an affordable price.

Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Communicator of the Year (matthewjukes.com)

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