Sommelier: E. Guigal

Châteauneuf-du-Pape is distinctly elegant, but the name is totally intimidating. Pronounced sha-toe-NUFF-dew-POP, it sounds south Louisiana but it’s totally French.

Châteauneufs are always produced only in the Rhône Valley from unique blends that often include a dozen or so different grape varietals. So yes, sometimes more is better. And one of southern Rhône’s best efforts is E. Guigal Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The 2009 vintage is black plum delicious with flavors of cherry, spice and most things nice. This rustic blend of mostly Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah is rich, smooth and naturally balanced with aromas of dried herbs commonly found in Provence.

Traveling down the Rhône River and just around the bend,  E. Guigal’s sign is posted prominently on hillside terrior overshadowing the town of Ampuis. But if you’re in south Louisiana, not the south of France, visit Maison Lacour for a French dinner with English subtitles. Order Chef Michael Jetty’s Carré d’Agneau (New Zealand rack of lamb), which pairs perfectly with the E. Guigal 2009. Or head home with a couple of bottles from Calandro’s Supermarket—the 2009 vintage to drink now and the 2010 to drink later. Much later.