Domaine Chante Cigale is a notable Chateauneuf du Pape wine, whose attributes are sung about in many articles. Owned by the Sabon Favier family, now headed by Alexandre SF, they produce a red and white CdP but more white than any other producer in the AC. The grapes in the blend are equally divided between Clairette, Bourboulenc, Grenache Blanc and Rousanne and, like many whites from the same region, the challenge is maintaining acidity levels. This is achieved by preventing malo-lactic fermentation and bottling early from stainless steel tanks.
So how did we find it? Well, for starters I didn’t get anywhere near guessing the region, let alone the wine. There wasn’t any strong varietal note coming through on the nose, not surprising, I suppose, when there are four different grapes used. The colour was very pale yellow (I detected a ‘grey’ tinge rather than green) but if the acidity is low there wouldn’t be a strong green hue. The nose was quite understated, lemon certainly with a whiff of stone fruit but that tended to come and go.
The palate was the surprising factor – rich but with a very soft mouth feel and sans the acidity you might expect from a white wine. The finish was a medium length and slightly of almonds. Reading about the wine I can see how maintaining acidity levels is paramount especially as the vineyard has a preponderance of large stones which must ensure continual warmth, even at night. It was an elegant, well-balanced wine of undoubted quality and would accompany stronger flavoured white meats.
[Richard: I think this came from Highbury Vintners, at around £22. We’ve previously been very sniffy about CdP reds but the whites are a different matter. Often complex and subtle without the in-your-face machismo shown by the reds. This one is very drinkable, well made and pretty good value if you like the style.]