Ask The Wine Ladies




Dear The Wine Ladies,

A small group of us get together every couple of months for food and drink and wine is increasingly becoming an important part of our socials. Last month we had a delicious red wine called Chateauneuf du Pape, which I heard, unique to this wine has to be made with thirteen different kinds of grapes. Basically a Cab or Shiraz kind of guy I was just wondering if I heard this right and also if there might be a white Chateauneuf-du-Pape as well subject to the same regulation?



Dear Stan,

Delicious indeed, the wines of Chateauneuf-du-Pape definitely rank among some of our faves. 

Actually Stan, it is not obligatory to use all thirteen grape varieties when producing a Chateauneuf-du-Pape but vintners have the option to use any of, and/or up to all thirteen specific varietals. Quick note to add here, in the last few years the regulations were actually adjusted and up to eighteen varietals are now permitted. How and when did the original regulations come about? In 1923 the Baron Le Roy of Chateau Fortia, a vigneron of that time in Chateauneuf-du-Pape got together with the other growers and drew up a set of rules for the production of wines coming from this region. 



Baron Le Roy Chateau Fortia

Actually the entire appellation system (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée) in France as we know it today, was fashioned after this very set of regulations. Rules included dictating a minimum alcohol content (the first time in France, 12.5% the highest in France) and defining an area as permitted to be included in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. The Baron also included in the rules ten permissible grape varieties. In 1936 three additional grape varieties were added to the list bringing the total to thirteen. The most prominently used grape variety continues to be Grenache, with Mourvedre and Syrah (Shiraz as many know it) ranked second and third.

There is a white Chateauneuf-du-Pape produced, made of up to six white grape varieties, but only in very small quantities and not regularly available for purchase in Ontario and the other provinces. 

 Chateauneuf-du-Pape, which translates to “new castle of the Pope”, is an historic village (as well as name of the appellation) between towns Avignon and Orange located in France’s southern Rhone.  It is the best-known wine of the region and typically produces full bodied, powerful, juicy and complex red wines considered among the best of the Rhone Valley. The name dates back to the early 14th century when Avignon was chosen as the new home for the Pope’s court.


The Wine Ladies, Georgia and Susanne 









Dear Wine Ladies,

As a bit of a novice when it comes to wine I discovered recently at a wedding how much I enjoy a glass of Champagne! I soon realized that this bubbly is a little out of my budget and have since been introduced to Prosecco from Italy, which I thoroughly enjoy! This delightful bubbly, much more affordable has quickly become somewhat of a staple in our household and I’d like to learn a little more about it, including my confusion as to whether it's a grape, or a place? Does it have to come from a specific part of Italy to be called Prosecco, as I have learned is the case with Champagne and is it made the same way? Where can I find a rosé Prosecco, another of my favourites? Thanks Wine Ladies for your help, I am looking forward to learning more and enjoying more of this bubbly as spring approaches.



Dear Hillary,

Congratulations, you have now joined the ever growing ranks of wine lovers, whether novice or not, smitten with this lively, delectable and affordable bubbly! Thanks for the great questions too, in fact there does seem to be a little confusion out there with respect to this ever popular sparkling wine.

In terms of where Prosecco must be made in order to be called Prosecco, you are right, just as is the case with Champagne, this sparkling wine must come exclusively from one of two wine growing regions in north eastern Italy which are Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia. In fact the name comes from the Italian village of Prosecco near Trieste which is the capital of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Curiously Prosecco is also the name of the wine, and was until recently the name of the grape. Due to a change in regulation in 2009 the “Glera” grape which is a long standing synonym for Prosecco was officially recognized as the proper grape name used to identify this iconic Italian export.

One of the main attractions of Prosecco, besides it having a lively, zesty and cheerful flavour, is of course its affordability, in contrast to Champagne which can be explained partially at least in the way these two sparkling wines are produced. Champagne undergoes its secondary fermentation in the bottle, which is costly, takes time and is labor intensive, while Prosecco’s secondary fermentation takes place in a large stainless steel tank, much more economically, known as the Charmat method. Of course there are other reasons why Champagne fetches the prices it does, and all very well deserved indeed.

Looking for a rosé Prosecco? You can find a rosé sparkling wine, otherwise known as spumante, or a rosé frizzante but because Prosecco must be a white wine and Pinot Noir is not among any of the permitted grapes for making Prosecco, this will not be possible. There are however some absolutely delectable rosé Spumantes on the market, which do hail from this unique region of Friuli.

We recently had the opportunity to interview Nicola Pittaro, of Pitars winery, a fourth generation, historic and stunning winery located in Friuli, who was visiting here showcasing his wines.
Nicola treated us to an extensive tasting of a suburb line up of sparkling wine. We sampled their Prosecco, as well as their Pitars Rosé Spumante, which was elegant, delicate, dry with hints of strawberry and raspberry, very delicious. They also produce a sparkling wine using one of the indigenous grapes of the region, the Ribolla Gialla, also delightful. If you would like more information on the various aspects of Prosecco, either on the region or on the wines, please tune in to our radio show and get the scoop from Nicola himself. The three above mentioned wines are available by the way here in Ontario, through VDF Imports located right here in Mississauga. Cheers. Contact: Dan Scodellaro

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