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
(Image credit: )

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.

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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 (

Matthew Jukes

Matthew Jukes has worked in the UK wine business for well over three decades and during this time has written 14 wine books.  

Matthew regularly lectures, judges, speaks at wine conferences and runs masterclass tastings for both corporate and private clients all over the world. Matthew is also the creator of his ground-breaking initiative, the One Day Wine School, an indulgent day of tasting and learning first performed in 2006.

He has been the MoneyWeek wine correspondent since 2006 and has written a weekly column for the Daily Mail’s Weekend Magazine since 1999. His four highly-acclaimed, annual wine reports – the Burgundy En Primeur Report, the Bordeaux En Primeur Report, the Piemonte Report and the 100 Best Australian Wines – are published on his website,

Matthew is one of the world’s leading experts on Australian wine and, with Brisbane-based wine writer Tyson Stelzer, runs an annual competition in Australia to find ‘The Great Australian Red’.  He was made Honorary Australian of the Year in the UK at the 2012 Australia Day Foundation Gala dinner. 

Matthew is a winner of the International Wine and Spirit Competition's Communicator of the Year Trophy.  His thoughts, recommendations and tastings notes are followed very closely by the wine world at large.