When I hear someone say Châteauneuf-du-Pape, I think fancy and pricey wine, which is pretty much the case. Basically Châteauneuf-du-Pape is like a designer fashion label because you’re paying for the papal image on your bottle. Granted, the wine deserves merit for its quality and history. In the 14th century, the pope decided to point his papal nose north of Avignon to set up his summer retreat which became known as “the pope’s new castle” – or rather, the village, Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Since the pope liked his wine, it only made sense that he chose a very fertile wine region for his vacation destination. Thanks to the pope’s taste for good wine, we are fortunate to enjoy the descendants of these vineyards. One of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape wineries is Ogier, whose winemaker (since 1995) Didier Couturier visited Montreal last week to introduce us to not only his fancy CDP-labeled wines, but also a few of the other notable (and more affordable) wines that Ogier produces in the Rhône valley wine region. Over dinner at Le LocaL, I chatted with Mr.Couturier as I discovered ten of the wines he creates for Ogier. Here are a few favourites that you can find at your local SAQ and a few that are available by private import…

Starting off with a nice crisp white wine – the Côtes du Rhône Héritages Blanc 2010 was a delightful discovery. With floral and fruity notes such as pear and elderflower, this is a wine I would consider ordering a case of since it’s only available through private import. At $16.95 per bottle, it is certainly worth it!

The second white we tasted was paired perfectly with a grilled halibut dish, prepared specifically to accompany the wine by the chef at Le LocaL to match the pear, vanilla, hazelnut, litchi and elderflower flavours found in the Clos de l’Oratoire des Papes Blanc 2010. This Châteauneuf-du-Pape white is also available as a private import at $44.25 the bottle.

Moving onto the reds, I was quite impressed by the Côtes du Rhône Héritages 2010. Like its white cousin, this Ogier wine is a great tasting wine for your hard-earned dollar. Going for $14.95 at your favourite SAQ, you’ll enjoy the lovely mix of pepper and chocolate flavours with hints of red fruit like raspberry, without feeling you’ve lost an arm and a leg.

With our main course of veal tenderloin we tried two different red wines: Oratorio Crozes-Hérmitage 2009 ($27.55) and Clos de l’Oratoire des Papes 2010 ($43.50). Though the Crozes-Hérmitage is a lovely Syrah, my preference went to the pricey pope because I tend to have a weakness for a good Grenache and my palate rarely matches my wallet. This wine is a fabulous blend of mainly Grenache (80%) with a bit of Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsault to make it irresistible. Heavy with the Grenache’s typical dark fruit flavours, yet light on the nose with delicate notes of violet and moss, and ending in a complex base of leather and spices, this wine is definitely worth splurging for!

My final favourite red of the evening was the Oratorio Caves des Papes Gigondas 2010, served with a variety of cheese and nuts. Its ruby complexion and intense notes of blackberry, black currants and roast cocoa bean was a real pleasure for the palate. Available at the SAQ for $33.

For dessert, our sommelier Elyse Lambert (an incredibly knowledgeable wineophile who’s ear you should bend next time you’re at Le LocaL) paired a variety of mignardises (little desserts) with Les Chorégies 2009. Another Clos de l’Oratoire des Papes wine, this one will set you back $84.50, so I would suggest it only if you can afford it or for very special occasions, but it is pretty fancy with its spicy licorice, heavenly vanilla and dark fruit flavours. It’s silky and noble – I guess, like the pope himself.

After tasting ten wines and enjoying such a feast, my senses were alive and my head was dancing with images of the Rhône valley and the pope’s new castle as I returned to my own château and proceeded to dream of the pope in his summer vacay spot, tippling wine like a boss.

For more info on the Ogier winery, visit their website.

The wines in this article:

Côtes du Rhône Héritages Blanc 2010
($16.95 – private import through the SAQ)

Clos de l’Oratoire des Papes Blanc 2010
($44.25  – private import through the SAQ)

Côtes du Rhône Héritages 2010
($14.95 – SAQ 535849)

Oratorio Crozes-Hérmitage 2009
($27.55 – SAQ 917534)

Clos de l’Oratoire des Papes 2010
($43.50 – SAQ 11407990)

Oratorio Caves des Papes Gigondas 2010
($33 – SAQ 871269)

Clos de l’Oratoire des Papes – Les Chorégies 2009
($84.50 – SAQ 10943740)