Hey lovers, the 2012 La Nerthe Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a great Valentine’s night luxury wine.
I suspect most straight men have a fraught relationship with Valentine’s Day, since the potential for fouling it up, and the unpleasant consequences thereof, are rife. Or maybe that’s just me. At any rate, I would like to think I am getting better at it, and of all of our modern civilization’s greeting card holidays Valentine’s does have the unique selling point of being composed generally of only two celebrants. This, of course, means the wine budget can be concentrated and skewed towards quality over quantity. And so it should be. Valentine’s wine is not supposed to be bargain-of-the-century wine, it should be a treat.
The 2012 Château La Nerthe Châteauneuf-du-Pape is released into the LCBO Vintages program on Saturday, February 6. Lovers, that is more than a week’s lead time to get a bottle for the 14th, which I recommend without reservation.
At $49.95 the 2012 La Nerthe is actually on the lower end of the C-d-P price scale, which is curious because a quick Google search of the house of La Nerthe will reveal that it has been the subject a lot of critical praise over the last decade or so. Perhaps reputations in Châteauneuf, with so much high-end competition, are slow to cement. Also, we seem to be getting a bit of a deal in Canada: Berry Brothers and Rudd are listing the 2012 La Nerthe at £39.95, which is about $80 with today’s exchange rate. For a luxury wine, this is a pretty good deal. (Full disclosure: La Nerthe is imported by Woodman Wines & Spirits who are Good Food Fighters.)
I recently tasted the 2012 La Nerthe in the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape at the headquarters of the Fédérations des Syndicates des Producteurs (i.e. the consortium of winemakers, who host an excellent and comprehensive website at chateauneuf.com). It was entered as part of a blind tasting of 35 wines. My notes per entry on a comprehensive tasting are brief, but next to wine number 27 are shorthand for a wine I remarkably liked, plum and blackberry, and a bit of floral Grenache notes as well as a “creaminess”, which would have been mostly in reference to relatively soft tannins. La Nerthe is typically described as an example of “modern” wine making in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which can be taken to mean making wine that can be enjoyed relatively soon after being bottled. While the 2012 could certainly take some years in the cellar (five?), with enough breathing it’s good to go for next Sunday. Indeed, at a dinner two nights before that blind tasting, I enjoyed my share of a bottle of the 2014 La Nerthe which showed well with a veal stew covered in truffles. The wines of La Nerthe are versatile and pair well with the usual suspects associated with red wine from beef to duck to lamb and so on.
Bottom line: try the 2012 Château La Nerthe Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which arrives at the LCBO this week, because it offers a fine example of the red wine form this iconic and luxurious region at a relatively good price and in an accessible form that makes it suitable to drink right away.