We’d been on the lookout for an elegant Chateauneuf that places drinkability above high alcohol, so we were delighted when we came across Le Château du Mourre du Tendre. The winery sits on a small hill overlooking a sea of vines, known locally as Mourre du Tendre, or ‘the hill of love’. It’s been farmed by the Paumel family for seven generations, but it was only in 1988 that Jacques and Josephine Paumel decided to start estate bottling their own wines under the same name. The estate is now run by their daughter Florence and her son Paul Verité. The estate covers 25 hectares in size with 3 ha in Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the lieu-dits of Le Crau, La Guigasse and Saintes Vierges. All are sandy terroirs. The Grenache found in these sites was planted in 1929 and in 1942 while the Mourvedre is a relatively recent addition, planted by Jacques in 1967. Farming is traditional; everything is done by hand and they've never used pesticides. In the cellar they work whole-bunch, fermentations occur spontaneously after a short semi-carbonic maceration, and ageing averages three years in both concrete tanks and foudre. The resulting wines are charming and supremely age-worthy – Ben tasted some from the 1960s that had remarkable freshness. These are serious and graceful wines, carving out their own path in the Southern Rhône.