GIGONDAS These 89 wines seemed definitely less ripe than the Châteauneuf 2015s, and more astringent on the finish, as though the phenolics didn’t always ripen fully. The floral and black-cherry aromas I found in many a Châteauneuf were largely absent here. Overall I felt the appellation was rather less successful. To reduce the number of wines tasted to a manageable level, I limited the number of cuvées tasted per producer in some cases.
Tardieu-Laurent, Vieilles Vignes 2015 Gigondas 85% Grenache (80 to over 100 years old), 10% Syrah (80 to over 100 years old), 5% Mourvèdre (80 to over 100 years old). From the Dentelles, Boussière, Garrigues and Teysonnières. Two-thirds whole bunch. Aged in one-year-old barrels.
Dark purplish crimson. This sample smelt just a little tired unfortunately. There is massive ripeness here and almost animal savour. A little saltiness. This particular sample didn’t quite hang together and seemed a tad scrawny on the end but I can quite believe this was down to the condition of the sample rather than the intrinsic worth of the wine. 14.5% Drink 2017-2022 £195 per case of 12 ib RRP 15.5
Dom de Longue Toque 2015 Gigondas 60% Grenache, 40% Syrah. The Grenache is matured in mix of concrete vats and demi-muids, the Syrah in French oak for about 18 months. Cask sample.
Tasted blind. Bright crimson. Very fresh nose with lots of drive and energetic tannins. An excellent package for mid-term drinking though not one of the most long-term wines. Drink 2020-2027 16.5
Gabriel Meffre, La Châsse Grande Réserve 2015 Gigondas Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre. Cask sample.
Tasted blind. Slightly dull crimson. Rather muddy, vegetal nose. Edge of sourness rather than freshness and very solid fruit that seems quite evolved. Useful for restaurateurs? Drink 2018-2024 16
Louis Bernard 2015 Gigondas Grenache, Syrah. Cask sample.
Tasted blind. Bright crimson. Sweet, rich, unadorned, almost rude fruit. Very straightforward with good freshness. Super-healthy. Drink 2020-2028 16.5
Ravoire & Fils, Olivier Ravoire 2015 Gigondas 85% Grenache, 15% Syrah, destemmed and vinified separately. 20% of the final blend is aged 12 to 18 months in new barrels (225 litre for Syrah and half barrels for the Grenache), the rest is aged in stainless-steel tanks. Cask sample.
Tasted blind. Dense, velvety crimson. There is even a hint of black-cherry opulence here. Velvet texture – very worked? – but nothing overripe. A Gigondas in ‘modern’ idiom with some oak influence evident. A love or loathe wine. 14% Drink 2021-2028 16.5
Dom des Bosquets (Bréchet) 2015 Gigondas 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 7% Mourvèdre, 3% Cinsault. Vinified in stainless steel. Matured for 12 months in various sized oak vessels for the Syrah, concrete tank for the Grenache, Mourvèdre and Cinsault. After blending, the wine will mature a further six months in concrete tanks before bottling. Cask sample.
Tasted blind. Slightly grey crimson. Very ripe indeed and then some leathery tannins. So sweet! Not quite fresh enough for my taste. Falls away a little on the end. 15.6% Drink 2020-2026 16
Dom des Bosquets (Bréchet), Le Lieu Dit 2015 Gigondas Mostly Grenache. Vinified in stainless steel, matured in 600-litre old oak demi-muids. Cask sample.
Tasted blind. Relatively light crimson. Sweet, ripe Grenache on the nose. Light and lively. Well-judged, sprightly, entertaining wine. 16.2% Drink 2019-2026 17
Dom des Bosquets (Bréchet), La Colline 2015 Gigondas Grenache-dominated blend. Vinified in stainless steel. Matured in 500-litre demi-muids, first and third use. Cask sample.
Tasted blind. Blackish crimson. Full, opulent, floral notes on the nose. Racy palate with real energy. Sweet finish. The fruit almost obscures the fine tannins. 16.3% Drink 2020-2027 16.5+
Dom de Cabasse, Jucunditas 2015 Gigondas 80% Grenache, 20% blend of Syrah and Mourvèdre. 100% destemmed. Vinified in concrete tank, matured in oak, a mix of demi-muid and barrique. Cask sample.
Tasted blind. Pale-rimmed crimson. Meaty nose with very fine tannins. Good freshness without its being dominant. A well-balanced wine for fairly early drinking. Some heat on the end. 14.5% Drink 2019-2025 16.5
St-Damien, Les Souteyrades 2015 Gigondas 80% Grenache, 20% Mourvèdre. Cask sample.
Tasted blind. Dark ruby with a fading rim. Sweet, salty and floral on the nose with medium weight, fully ripe fruit. Lightly grainy tannins. Nice package for early to mid-term drinking. 15% Drink 2019-2025 16
There was very exuberant fruit on palate entry in these 67 wines in general (and sometimes the distinct impression of residual sugar) with few wines showing great sophistication. And as with Gigondas 2015s, many of these Vacqueyras showed notably drying tannins (was this a lack of phenolic ripeness?) and some of the wines were marked by a strong green streak on the palate. Overall they seemed much earlier-maturing than either Gigondas or Châteauneuf.
Tardieu-Laurent, Vieilles Vignes 2015 Vacqueyras 70% Grenache (over 60 years old), 25% Syrah (40 years old), 5% Mourvèdre (40 years old). Two-thirds whole bunch, aged in one-year-old barrels.
Blackish ruby. Sweet and silky on the nose – most alluring already. Heady. Round with very gentle tannins that make their presence felt only on the very end, along with a hint of alcoholic warmth. This really does taste of Provençal sunshine; there could even be a hint of lavender along with the sautéed plums. 14.5% Drink 2018-2026 £175 per case of 12 ib RRP 17
Dom de la Charbonnière 2015 Vacqueyras 60% Grenache, 40% Syrah. Aged in large oak.
Round and ripe with some structure. Ambitious and a little dry on the end but not excessively drying. Ambitious. 15.5% Drink 2019-2026 16.5+
Dom de la Charbonnière, Cuvée Spéciale 2015 Vacqueyras All Grenache, a new cuvée made from a parcel acquired in 2014. Philippe Cambie now consults here.
Tasted blind. I seem to have been more impressed by this producer’s Vacqueyras than by their Châteauneuf. Purplish. Some interesting ripe fruit on the nose here. Ripe and well balanced. Proper full ripeness and some ripe and substantial but not drying tannins too. Serious stuff. 15.5% Drink 2020-2027 17
Ravoire & Fils, Olivier Ravoire 2015 Vacqueyras 80% Grenache, 20% Syrah. Destemmed. 20% spends 12-18 months in new barrels of 225 litres for the Syrah and in demi-muids for the Grenache, the rest in concrete tanks.
Tasted blind. Opulent texture and candied rose petals on the nose – but just a bit too sweet and sickly for comfort. Shame because it has so much going for it. Falls off a ledge at the end. 14% Drink 2017-2020 15.5
Gabriel Meffre, Laurus 2015 Vacqueyras 70% Grenache, 30% Syrah. Destemmed. A third of the blend spends 14 months in new 275-litre barrels.
Tasted blind. Blackish crimson. Light nose with a suggestion of carbonic gas. Sweet start and some raciness. Not the subtlest, deepest wine but it is appetising. No great length but should give considerable short-term pleasure. 14.5% Drink 2017-2021 16
Gabriel Meffre, Barthélemy 2015 Vacqueyras Grenache, Syrah.
Tasted blind. Blackish crimson. Not much nose – just a slightly industrial whiff. Sweet start and then very drying finish with rather a hollow middle. Drink 2018-2022 15.5
Dom de Longue Toque 2015 Vacqueyras 60% Syrah, 40% Grenache. Destemmed. Grenache spends six months in tank and Syrah in oak.
Tasted blind. Dark purple. Really quite a lot of blue in the colour here. Spicy ripe fruit. But also drying tannins on the end – just a bit pinched. 15% Drink 2019-2023 16
I tasted these immediately after the Rasteau and noted an enormous difference. The Cairanne wines were more refined and obviously from cooler climes, but were notably good.
Dom des Coteaux des Travers, Terra Rosea 2015 Cairanne 70% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre. Destemmed and fermented in wooden tronconic vats. Élevage in 70% concrete, 30% 228-litre one- and two-year-old barrels for 10-12 months.
Tasted blind. Mid crimson with shading. Notably spicy nose. Green-strawberry flavours. Very racy and refreshing. Cool site? No weight at all. The thirst-quenching side of southern Rhône. 14.5% Drink 2017-2021 16
Dom des Escaravailles, Ventabren 2015 Cairanne 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Carignan. Élevage in concrete tanks. Tank sample.
Tasted blind. Dark crimson. Straightforward, sweet fruit without any exaggeration. Clean and workmanlike with Cairanne freshness. Very brisk indeed. Quite long and neat. 15% Drink 2018-2024 16+
Dom des Escaravailles, La Boutine 2015 Cairanne Mostly Grenache. Nine months in concrete tank.
Tasted blind. Light crimson. Straightforward, fully ripe fruit, unadorned. Round, juicy and thoroughly local. Pure pleasure in the strawberry/rose-petal idiom. Masses of sweetness and transparency. Very honest. Even if not for the very long term. Real grunt and authenticity to this wine. Lovely freshness on the end after all that sweet fruit. 15% Drink 2018-2022 16.5
Good density of fruit here.
Maby, Nessun Dorma 2015 Lirac 50% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 25% Mourvèdre. Destemmed. 60% aged in oak (one-third new), 40% in concrete tanks for 15 months. Tank sample.
Tasted blind. Blackish crimson. Ripe, opulent nose. A little confected with some sharp drying tannins on the end. Not settled down to a comfortable whole yet but there is masses of ripe fruit anyway. Exuberant. 15% Drink 2018-2023 16-
Maby, Bel Canto 2015 Lirac 100% Grenache, whole bunch. Aged in demi-muids (half new) for 15 months. Tank sample.
Tasted blind. Blackish crimson. Very opulent nose and round tannins. Very drying end. A bit uncomfortably over the top. And then it all falls away on the end. 15% Drink 2018-2022 15.5
Maby, La Fermade 2015 Lirac 80% Grenache, 15% Mourvèdre, 5% Syrah. Destemmed. In cement tanks for 15 months. Tank sample.
Tasted blind. Blackish crimson. Intense, glossy, glamorous wine with real line and punch. Very appetising with ripe but not particularly sweet fruit. Carefully guided. Very smart indeed. May be GV? 14.5% Drink 2018-2024 16.5
I thought most of these wines showed particularly well, with the Pique Basse and Beaurenard better than many a Châteauneuf.
Dom des Coteaux des Travers, La Mondona 2015 Rasteau 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre. Destemmed and fermented in wooden tronconic tanks. Tasted blind. Aged 10-12 months in 70% concrete and 30% 228-litre barrels of first and second use. Tank sample.
Tasted blind. Dark crimson. Intense and gorgeous on the nose though a tiny bit astringent on the finish. Good combo of ripeness and freshness but not quite a hedonistic whole. 15% Drink 2019-2024 16
Tardieu-Laurent, Vieilles Vignes 2015 Rasteau 65% Grenache (80 years old), 25% Syrah (40 years old), 10% Mourvèdre (40 years old on limestone clay and blue clay). One-third whole bunch, aged in one-year-old barrels.
Dark ruby. Colour not quite out to the rim. Notably gamey/meaty on the nose (a Mourvèdre effect?). Sweet, roasted start and without quite the concentration of the top Côtes du Rhône bottlings. But masses of tannins on the end. 14.5% Drink 2018-2023 £155 per case of 12 ib RRP 16+
Grand Nicolet, Terre des Bertrand 2015 Rasteau 70% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 15% Carignan. Élevage in concrete tank. Tasted blind.
Dark crimson. Racy and fully evolved. Expressive, confident, no-frills fruit . Edgy and energetic. Long and relaxed. Really most impressive on the finish. But a very different style to the most ‘worked’ examples. 15% Drink 2018-2023 16.5
Grand Nicolet, Vieilles Vignes 2015 Rasteau 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre. Élevage mostly in concrete with 10% of the Syrah in one- to three-year-old barriques for 12 months. Tank sample.
Tasted blind. Very dark crimson. Sample rather oxidised. Thick and soupy on the palate – this has lost its mojo. Hugely impressive concentration but not enough true freshness. There is even a hint of mousiness on the end but this may just be a sample problem. 15% Drink 2018-2022 15.5
Grand Nicolet, Les Esqueyrons 2015 Rasteau 50% Grenache (80-year-old vines), 50% Syrah (50-year-old vines). The Syrah is aged in one-year-old barriques for 12 months. Tank sample.
Tasted blind. Blackish purple. Raw, purple fruits on the nose. Sweet and velvety. Fades a bit on the finish though. Like the Grand Nicolet Vieilles Vignes, this may be a sample problem but both wines seem a bit over the top. 15% Drink 2019-2023 15.5
Dom des Escaravailles, Héritage 1924 2015 Rasteau Mostly Grenache. In concrete tanks for nine months.
Tasted blind. Dark ruby. Some damp-fur elements plus very ripe, intense fruit. Dry tannins on the end but lots of concentration and ambition. Hot end (rare for Rasteau). Fun to drink! Racy strawberry fruit. 15% Drink 2017-2023 16.5
Dom des Escaravailles, La Ponce 2015 Rasteau 80% Grenache, 20% Syrah. The Grenache is in concrete tank for a year and the Syrah in oak barrel for a year. Tank sample.
Tasted blind. Blackish crimson. Rather oxidised sample but with lots of suave fruit underneath. Drawing-room Rasteau rather than the rustic sort! Maybe another sample would be even more impressive… Lots of punch. I suspect I am under-scoring this wine. 15% Drink 2018-2025 16
CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES, PLAN DE DIEU
Calendal 2015 Côtes du Rhône-Villages, Plan de Dieu 70% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre. Aged in 225-litre barrels for nine to 10 months.
Tasted blind. Bright dark crimson. Sweet with oak more in evidence than the fruit. Lots of sweet juiciness and very smoothed tannins but it’s more a cellar wine than a vineyard one. 15.5% Drink 2018-2022 15.5
CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES, ROAIX
Dom des Escaravailles, Les Hautes Granges 2015 Côtes du Rhône-Villages, Roaix Mostly Syrah. Nine months in oak.
Tasted blind. Dark, glossy blackish crimson. A charred nose. This wine seems to have been overworked. So much extraction that it has virtually lost its fruit in the middle. Too much emphasis on the phenolics? A rather bitter end. 15% Drink 2018-2021 15
CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES, SABLET
Dom de Cabasse, Les Deux Anges 2015 Côtes du Rhône-Villages, Sablet 75% Grenache, 3% Carignan, 22% Syrah. Vinified in concrete but spends some time in wood.
Tasted blind. Dark ruby with a pale rim. Warm, spicy, slightly animal nose with only medium intensity. Seems very advanced without much tannin evident. Pleasant, quite simple wine with slightly stewed fruit. 14% Drink 2016-2019 15
CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES
Tardieu-Laurent, Les Becs Fins 2015 Côtes du Rhône-Villages 50% Grenache (60 years old), 40% Syrah (30 years old), 10% Cinsault (60 years old). Ten months in cement.
Dark purplish crimson. Vibrant peppery fruit on the nose and still quite tight on the finish. Clearly made to last. Drying tannins on the end at the moment. GV 14.5% Drink 2017-2020 £95 per case of 12 ib RRP 16
CÔTES DU RHÔNE
Look out for the popular Guigal red Côtes du Rhône 2015 when it is released early in 2018. It is exceptional quality for a wine of which five million bottles are made and has, in the past anyway, represented outstanding value.
Tardieu-Laurent, Guy Louis 2015 Côtes du Rhône 60% Grenache (50 years old), 35% Syrah (40 years old), 5% Mourvèdre (30-40 years old). From parcels in Lirac, Rasteau, Beaume de Venise , Vacqueyras and Cairanne. One-third whole bunch and aged in one- and two-year-old barrels.
Very ripe, luscious nose with very well-managed tannins. I might take this for a Gigondas blind. Sweet and much more approachable than the Becs Fins bottling. GV 14.5% Drink 2016-2022 £130 per case of 12 ib RRP 16.5
Tardieu-Laurent, Cuvée Spéciale 2015 Côtes du Rhône 95% Grenache, 5% others (70 years old). All whole bunch and aged in two-year-old barrels.
Spicily perfumed. More aromatic and lifted than the Guy Louis 2015. On the palate it is still pretty grainy and, with all those tannins on the end, needs further ageing but it should age very gracefully. Definitely many cuts above the appellation average. Ambitious. This will be released only in autumn 2017 and Corneys are selling it specifically in magnums. Drink 2018-2024 £180 per case of 6 magnums ib Corney & Barrow 16.5
Le Clos du Caillou, Bouquet des Garrigues 2015 Côtes du Rhône 65% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre, 10% Carignan. Tank sample.
Light garnet. Sweet, light, sweet and simple. A tad pinched on the end. Drink 2017-2020 £110 per case of 12 ib H2Vin 15.5
Le Clos du Caillou, Les Quartz 2015 Côtes du Rhône 85% Grenache, 15% Syrah. Tank sample.
Sample a little tired on the nose but it’s extremely luscious on the palate. Sweet, salty and strawberry. May be a bit much for some palates but there is no shortage of personality. Drink 2018-2023 £159 per case of 12 ib H2Vin 17-
Le Clos du Caillou, Réserve 2015 Côtes du Rhône 85% Grenache, 15% Syrah. Tank sample.
Light, fresh and much tighter than the Quartz Côtes du Rhône. Broad and polished with rather a severe finish. Drink 2019-2025 £205 per case of 12 ib H2Vin 16
Tardieu-Laurent 2015 Bandol 95% Mourvèdre (over 50 years old), 5% Grenache (over 50 years old). Clay-limestone soils on Le Castellet. One-year-old barrels.
Purplish crimson. Not as expressive on the nose as the southern Rhône wines. It’s all tarry and buried… Very sweet start and then it really dries out the inside of the mouth. Quite a different build! It could do with a little more juice. Not very expressive on the palate either at this stage. 14% Drink 2020-2026 £185 per case of 12 ib RRP
ANDRE DEVALD écrit dans la revue Penge & Privatøkonomi, . La cuvée Serre Rouge 2014 du DOMAINE DE BRAMADOU a gagné le titre comme meilleur vin pour le repas de noël danois. En plus , le panel de dégustateurs a jugé (à l’aveugle) son valeur à plus que le double que le prix de vente. Autrement dit, une bouteille très réussis avec un rapport qualité-prix imbattable.
- The vintages in « 5″ that often bring luck.
- 1985, 1995, 2005 and 2015 – are carriers of successes in the Rhone Valley,
-. It must be said that 2015 has Trump argue, with almost optimal climatic conditions for each season! Thus, the winter is rainy, allowing the vines to build good water reserves. the year was the warmest and sunniest throughout our territory since the beginning of meteorological statistics. Sunniest so that 1947 or 1921. Spring is relatively late with 3 weeks late compared to 2014. But the good weather sets in gradually and flowering takes place in excellent conditions: the output of grapes is simply exceptional. Then the summer comes quickly, the months of June, July and August are extremely hot. one can not speak of heat, because the nights are cool. The temperature ranges are very high, which promotes the presence of tannins and color. No disease pressure, the vineyard and the winemaker breathe freely. Everything is in good shape before starting the harvest!
- The Syrah are exceptional in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but the Grenache and Mourvèdre gave the feeling of being blocked by the heat wave. They were released after the September 22-23, in the final great wines with great elegance, both on the sands on clays, a beautiful millesime that gives pleasure.
« Le Grenache est un atout majeur pour l’avenir de la Vallée du Rhône »
mercredi 20 mai 2015
Retour sur la table ronde de Découvertes en Vallée du Rhône 2015 2/4
On ne présente plus Philippe Cambie. Célèbre œnologue et amoureux du vin, son nom est fréquemment associé à certains des crus les plus reconnus autour de la Méditerranée. Il se dit lui-même « Terroirist » et défend l’idée de créer des vins à l’image d’un lieu.
« Les vins de terroir trouveront toujours leur place. Il ne faut pas céder à la mode, mais il faut tenir compte des modes de consommation. Aujourd’hui nous buvons les vins plus rapidement, plus jeunes. Alors il faut adapter nos produits à cette demande. »
C’est donc aux vigneronnes et aux vignerons de réconcilier l’expression du terroir avec les envies des consommateurs. Pas une mince affaire. Mais pour Philippe Cambie le Rhône possède un atout majeur : le Grenache. Avec ses rondeurs et ses fruits, ses tanins serrés et ses épices, il est en effet capable de produire des vins bons à boire jeune et bons à garder. Autre élément favorable pour préparer l’avenir, il s’adapte très bien à la cuisine asiatique…
Alors hors de question pour lui de remplacer un facteur viticole majeur comme le Grenache pour faire face à l’évolution climatique. Une évolution qui semble d’ailleurs être assez difficile à anticiper, car ces derniers millésimes étaient plutôt marqués par des phénomènes météorologiques imprévisibles que par une évolution constante vers la chaleur et la puissance dans les vins. L’adaptation du vignoble se fera lentement, en ajustant sur les bords. En attendant, il faut avancer en améliorant encore et toujours la qualité des produits tout en soignant nos terroirs.
« Je pense que l’agriculture biologique prendra plus de place encore dans les années à venir. La vigne est une monoculture. Il y a donc plus de nécessité à s’occuper de la santé des sols, de l’environnement. Le bio me semble le plus approprié pour y arriver. »
France, Rhone: Clos Saint Jean
Vincent and Pascal Maurel, with the next generation
Since taking control of the estate in 2002, and bringing on board rock-star consultant Philippe Cambie, the Maurel brothers have been knocking it out of the park in literally every vintage. 2004? Gorgeous wines and easily at the top in a recent retrospective. The cooler, rainy 2008? Beautiful ripeness and texture, and again, at the top of the hierarchy. 2011 is the same story, and it’s amazing what this team has accomplished in all of their vintages. Looking at this retrospective, we went through all of their cuvées going back to 2003. Unfortunately, there’s no new information here, and this tasting simply confirmed what myself and Robert Parker have been saying for some time now: Clos Saint Jean is at the top of their game and producing some of the most singular, hedonistic and brilliant wines in the world.
Starting out with the classic Châteauneuf du Pape, it’s normally a blend of 75% Grenache, with the balance a mix of Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Muscardin and Vaccarese. As is common at this estate, the Grenache is aged all in tank, and the other varieties in a mix of tank and barrels. While I think this cuvée always lags the Vieilles Vignes bottling, it is consistently outstanding and always a super value.
Barrels for the Syrah and Mourvèdre
The 2011 Châteauneuf du Pape offers gorgeous kirsch and strawberry-styled fruits to go with notions of spring flowers, licorice and rose petal. A perfumed, medium to full-bodied effort, it has loads of charm and class and will have a decade of overall longevity. More backwards and concentrated, the 2010 Châteauneuf du Pape has rocking mid-palate depth and length on the palate. Giving up ample dark fruit, kirsch, pepper, leather and big minerality, this beauty will see its 15th birthday in fine form. A spectacular showing, the 2009 Châteauneuf du Pape was firing on all cylinders at this tasting. As sexy and seamless as they come, with blackberry liqueur, kirsch, creamy licorice, orange peel and dried flower-like aromas and flavors, it hits the palate with a full-bodied, up-front, decadent style that just begs to be drunk. Drink this puppy while you wait on the 2010. A wine I’ve had numerous times, the 2008 Châteauneuf du Pape has a Burgundian feel in its black cherry, forest floor, pepper and underbrush-like aromas and flavors. Medium-bodied, elegant and seamless, it’s a delicious, certainly outstanding, wine to drink over the coming 3-5 years. Put this in a blind tasting with top-notch Burgundies and shock your friends. Showing the quality of the vintage, the 2007 Châteauneuf du Pape is an incredible wine. Possessing the classic kirsch liqueur, incense, flowers and licorice aromas and flavors that always show here, it flows onto the palate with a jaw dropping good texture that carries massive amounts of fruit, beautiful mid-palate concentration and a layered, silky feel. It’s hard to resist now, but it will be better in another couple years. From an under-the-radar vintage, the 2006 Châteauneuf du Pape is another full-bodied, layered and beautifully rich wine from this estate. Up-front, perfumed (kirsch and assorted red fruits, leather, wild flowers), concentrated and layered, it’s drinking nicely now and will continue to do so for at least another 5-7 years. The 2005 Châteauneuf du Pape is a ripe, concentrated effort that oozes melted licorice, plum, black olive and roasted herb-like aromas and flavors. Full-bodied, layered and beautifully put-together on the palate, it is almost overflowing with fruit, yet stays balanced, clean and thoroughly enjoyable. It will continue to thrill through 2020. Showing surprising depth and richness in the vintage, the 2004 Châteauneuf du Pape is slightly exotic on the nose, with hints of truffle, olive and underbrush morphing into more pure blackberry and sweet red cherry fruit. Medium to full-bodied, deep, rich and textured (especially for a 2004), it’s drinking at point and should be consumed over the coming couple of years (as always, depending on your preferences, as it will evolve for longer). Lastly, the 2003 Châteauneuf du Pape continues to drink fabulously, with its complex kirsch, leather, dried underbrush and spiced meat-driven profile. Rich, seamless and nicely concentrated, with some still-kicking tannin on the palate, it should be consumed over the coming 3-4 years as well.
Moving to the old vine cuvée, this is made especially for the U.S. Market and is 85% tank-aged, old vine Grenache, and the balance Syrah and Mourvèdre. It too almost always represents a crazy value and has a broad drink window. I’m currently finishing up a case of the ’08, and purchased two cases of the 2010, which is just starting to open back up after closing down shortly after release.
The 2011 Châteauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes is gorgeous (especially in the vintage), with loads of black raspberry, framboise and kirsch that’s balanced by notions of spring flowers, incense and spice. A forward, up-front version of this cuvée, it’s hard to resist now, yet it will have no problem evolving gracefully through 2023. More deep, rich and layered, with smoke, dried earth, ground pepper, leather and ripe blackberry-styled fruit, the 2010 Châteauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes is an incredible effort that has me purchasing more bottles every time I taste it. Showing more concentration than both the ’11 and ’09, with sweet tannin, it closed down slightly right after release, but was drinking beautifully on this occasion. I’d still hold off for another couple of years, and it will have 15-20 years of evolution with ease. Similar in style to the 2011, yet with additional richness, the 2009 Châteauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes boasts knockout aromas and flavors of blackberry liqueur, orange rind, sweet spice and crushed flowers to go with a full-bodied, rich, layered and sexy feel on the palate. A gorgeous effort that’s hard to resist now, it will nevertheless have 15 years or more of evolution. One of the stars of the vintage and a wine that should not be overlooked, the 2008 Châteauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes has a slightly darker fruit profile with plenty of pepper, mineral, earth and underbrush giving way to a medium to full-bodied, layered and silky feel on the palate. While from a cooler, more difficult year, you’d never know it by tasting it and it’s a beautiful effort that will continue to shine over the coming 4 to 5 years. Lastly, the 2007 Châteauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes is blockbuster stuff that has overflowing kirsch, blackberry, incense, lavender and Asian spices flowing to a sexy, full-bodied, multidimensional wine that has impeccable balance and knockout length. While I’ve a slight preference for the 2010, the 2007 has fabulous mid-palate density and an incredibly polished mouthfeel that’s hard to resist. It too is drinking well now, but will have 15 to 20 years of overall longevity when all is said and done.
Moving to the Combe des Fous release, this cuvée comes from a single plot of vines and is based largely on Grenache, with roughly 20% Syrah and 10% each of Vaccarese and Cinsault in the blend. The Grenache is aged all in tank and the other components see time in mostly demi-muids. While the Deux ex Machina always impresses more with its overt power and muscle, this cuvée always seems more polished, fine and elegant to me.
Starting with the 2011 Châteauneuf du Pape Combe des Fous, it’s easily one of the wines of the vintage and offers killer crème de cassis, kirsch, spice box, creamy licorice and toasted bread to go with a full-bodied, seamless, elegant and layered profile the palate. While showing the forward, approachable nature of the vintage, it has ample sweet tannin, rock-solid mid-palate concentration and blockbuster length. Also up with the top wines of the vintage, the 2010 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Combe des Fous shows the darker fruit and minerality of the vintage with its crème de cassis, blackberry, ground pepper, licorice and ample crushed rock-like minerality. Gaining more than one expletive in the notes, this full-bodied 2010 has thrilling purity of fruit, massive underlying structure and a rich, layered and decadent feel on the finish. As with most 2010s, it needs another 3 to 4 years of bottle age and will easily have two decades of overall longevity. A wine that blew me away, and the best bottle of this I’ve tasted, the 2009 Châteauneuf du Pape Combe des Fous gave up exotic and intense aromas and flavors of ground pepper, kirsch liqueur, incense, white chocolate and crushed flowers. About as seamless and sexy as they come, this extraordinary Châteauneuf boasts incredible concentration, no hard edges and insane length on the finish. Much more forward and open than the 2010, drink it over the coming 10 to 15 years. The 2008 Châteauneuf du Pape Combe des Fous shows what this estate can do in a more difficult vintage. Full-bodied, seamless and beautifully textured, it has ample kirsch, forest floor, truffle, black pepper, and an exotic, liquid flower-like quality to go with superb concentration and silky, polished tannin. Showing the vintage’s cooler nature, it nevertheless has serious richness and depth. Drink it over the coming decade. On another level, the 2007 Châteauneuf du Pape Combe des Fous is a monumental bottle of wine that’s hardly budged since I first tasted it on release. Giving up heavenly aromas and flavors of black raspberries, cassis, incense, cured meats and exotic spices, this incredible effort flows onto the palate with a layered, impeccably balanced profile that carries massive concentration, polished tannin and a crazy length. Despite searching for something to be critical of, I came up empty. Shockingly, the 2006 Châteauneuf du Pape Combe des Fous is almost as good. From a vintage that flies under the radar, it boasts a classic Clos Saint Jean profile of kirsch liqueur, ripe black raspberries, ground herbs and sweet garrigue to go with full-bodied richness and depth on the palate. Always slightly more elegant and silky than the more powerful Deus ex Machina, this thrill ride of a Châteauneuf will continue to drink well for another decade. Up there with the ’07, yet in a different style, the 2005 Châteauneuf du Pape Combe des Fous is a blockbuster that tops out on my scale. Exotic, perfumed and layered, with incredible kirsch, ground herbs, pepper and hints of olive tapenade-like aromas and flavors, this beauty is full-bodied and flawless on the palate, with ultra-fine tannin structure, building richness and a finish that just won’t quit. Given its depth of fruit, it’s a sheer joy to drink even today, yet will continue to knock it out of the park over the coming decade or more.
As is getting more and more common, this estate produced one of the wines of the vintage in 2004. A cooler vintage that featured higher acids and more mid-weight aromas and flavors, the 2004 Châteauneuf du Pape Combe des Fous sports rocking depth and richness to go with big black fruits, black licorice, roasted herbs and assorted meatiness. Drinking well, I’d pop bottles over the coming couple of years, yet no doubt it will have a solid evolution through 2019 or so. Lastly, and a big, ripe and voluptuous effort, the 2003 Châteauneuf du Pape Combe des Fous is thrilling stuff that’s drinking beautifully. Incense, exotic pepper, cedar and spice are all supported by a ripe core of sweet kirsch and blackberry fruit. It’s full-bodied, rich, textured and voluptuous on the palate. Showing no signs of over-ripeness or astringency, with polished tannin and excellent mid-palate depth, it pumps out loads of fruit on the finish, and should be consumed over the coming handful of years.
One of the greatest cuvées on earth, the Maurel brothers’ Sanctus Sanctorum is 100% Grenache that comes from a single plot of vines in the La Crau lieu-dit. Aged all in demi-muid, it’s been one of the greatest wines I’ve ever tasted – every time I’ve tasted it. All three of these were sheer perfection on this occasion, yet each has its own unique profile.
The 2010 Châteauneuf du Pape Sanctus Sanctorum is the most classic in style, yet is still over-the-top and decadent in every way. Giving up heavenly aromas and flavors of crème de cassis, black raspberry, ground spice, sweet licorice and roasted herbs, it has a massive, voluptuous, layered and insanely pure feel on the palate. If you’re a Grenache lover, it doesn’t get any better. More flamboyant, open and exotic, with notes of kirsch liqueur, cassis, toasted almonds, sandalwood, lavender, and crushed flowers that you can smell from across the room, the 2009 Châteauneuf du Pape Sanctus Sanctorum expands on the palate, with incredible concentration, building, sweet tannin and a finish that just won’t quit. Where the 2010 cuts a more focused path, this puppy is overflowing with fruit and texture. It too is a perfect wine that will evolve for another couple decades, yet given this showing, don’t hesitate to crack bottles over the coming couple of years. The largest scaled of the three, the 2007 Châteauneuf du Pape Sanctus Sanctorum offers a 2009-like level of decadence, yet is more dense, concentrated and thick, with a massive mid-palate and texture that has nothing out of place. Boasting off-the-chart aromas and flavors of crÃ¨me de cassis, ground pepper, melted licorice, loamy soil and exotic spice, it’s another desert island wine, in a lineup of desert island wines. Given that there are so few of these to go around, and that it’s bottled only in magnum, I know it’s difficult to open bottles, but don’t wait too long, as all three are insanely good – even today.
lways the most powerful of the cuvées, the Deus Ex Machina is a blend of 60% tank-aged Grenache and 40% demi-muid-aged Mourvèdre that comes from 70- to 100-year-old vines. The Mourvèdre component is really what defines this cuvée, and it possesses the most obvious structure and mid-palate richness in the lineup. Seeming to hit maturity around age 10 or so, it can be consumed relatively early in its life due to its wealth of fruit, texture, and incredibly polished tannin. In addition, don’t miss this cuvée in the lighter vintages, as even their 2004 and 2008 show classic character and no shortage of richness.
Starting off, the 2011 Châteauneuf du Pape Deus ex Machina is a stunner in the vintage. Like the Combe des Fous, it has incredible elegance, as well as the forward, sexy nature of the vintage. Kirsch liqueur, currants, toast, sandalwood, and graphite are just some of the nuances here. The wine hits the palate with full-bodied richness, a layered, seamless mouthfeel and beautifully polished tannin on the finish. Give it another year or two and drink it through 2026. Deeper and richer, the 2010 Châteauneuf du Pape Deus ex Machina has been nothing short of perfection on the 3-4 times I’ve been lucky enough to try it. Muscular and powerful, with a serious, full-bodied profile, it gives up incredible aromas and flavors of crème de cassis, licorice, graphite, beef blood and loamy earth. Like most 2010s at this stage, it’s backwards and dense, and needs to be forgotten for another couple of years. This beauty will have 2-3 decades of overall longevity. In contrast (and almost as good), the 2009 Châteauneuf du Pape Deus ex Machina is an extroverted, open and insanely perfumed effort that boasts killer blackberry and kirsch-styled fruit to go with layers of spring flowers, exotic spice and graphite. As are all of these efforts, it’s full-bodied, deeply concentrated and textured on the palate, with masses of sweet tannin. It will be better in a couple years and evolve gracefully for two decades, but it’s hard to resist right now. I think the wine of the vintage, the 2008 ChÃ¢âteauneuf du Pape Deus ex Machina again shows how good this estate is, even in difficult vintages. Giving up beautifully ripe black cherry, currant, licorice, ground herbs and hints of pepper, it’s full-bodied, beautifully concentrated, rich, structured and layered on the palate. While it will age gracefully, it too is a superb drink now. Like the 2010, the still inky colored 2007 Châteauneuf du Pape Deus ex Machina is as good as it gets. Both incredibly decadent and elegant at the same time, it offers outrageous aromas of mulled blackberries, cured meats, spring flowers and exotic spices to go with a full bodied, seamless, layered, yet massively constructed profile on the palate. Showing the depth and texture of this phenomenal vintage, it’s a monumental effort that’s still an infant in terms of development. It lives up to the hype (I still remember tasting this on release, in the cellar with Vincent, and leaving with nothing but a crazy smile on my face) and can be consumed anytime over the coming two decades. The 2006 Châteauneuf du Pape Deus ex Machina was flirting with perfection on this go around, and was open, layered and sexy. Possessing rock-star kirsch, blackberry liqueur, incense, spice, garrigue and ground pepper, it’s a full-bodied, incredibly textured 2006 that has thrilling concentration, sweet tannin and a finish this just keeps going. If forced to pick one of these bottles for current drinking, it’s showing spectacularly. I’ve been lucky enough to have the 2005 Châteauneuf du Pape Deus ex Machina numerous times over the past year, and while still youthful, it’s starting to shows hints of evolution and secondary nuances. Cassis, crushed rocks, graphite, beef blood and iron-like aromas and flavors are all present here, and it offers incredible depth and richness on the palate, with gorgeous purity, masses of tannin and a rock-star finish. A wine that could make you run out of adjectives, it too is another wine that goes flying off the scale. Like the 2006 (and 2003), the 2004 Châteauneuf du Pape Deus ex Machina is drinking beautifully today and defies the vintage stereotype. Giving up awesome dark fruits, olive tapenade, licorice, earth, pepper and spice, it has a un-2004-like richness and texture, as well as beautiful underlying structure and balance. Sweetly fruited, perfumed and complex, drink it over the coming 4-5 years. Lastly, the 2003 Châteauneuf du Pape Deus ex Machina is a wine that can hit perfection on any given day. In this lineup, it seems just slightly behind the off-the-charts, 2010, 2007 and 2005. Just now starting to show hints of maturity (bottles from my cellar show more evolution than this one), it’s an incredible Châteauneuf that offers textbook kirsch, licorice, graphite, blackcurrants and spice to go with a full-bodied, layered and voluptuously-styled feel on the palate. Like the other 2003 from this estate, it shows no signs over ripeness, possesses sweet tannin and beautiful purity. I’d drink it over the coming 3-5 years, but it will evolve for longer.
Clos Saint Jean 2011 Châteauneuf du Pape (Red) Rating : 91
Clos Saint Jean 2010 Châteauneuf du Pape (Red) Rating : 93+
Clos Saint Jean 2009 Châteauneuf du Pape (Red) Rating : 94
Clos Saint Jean 2008 Châteauneuf du Pape (Red) Rating : 90
Clos Saint Jean 2007 Châteauneuf du Pape (Red) Rating : 94
Clos Saint Jean 2006 Châteauneuf du Pape (Red) Rating : 93
Clos Saint Jean 2005 Châteauneuf du Pape (Red) Rating : 92
Clos Saint Jean 2004 Châteauneuf du Pape (Red) Rating : 92
Clos Saint Jean 2003 Châteauneuf du Pape (Red) Rating : 91
Clos Saint Jean 2011 Châteauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes (Red) Rating : 93
Clos Saint Jean 2010 Châteauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes (Red) Rating : 96
Clos Saint Jean 2009 Châteauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes (Red) Rating : 94
Clos Saint Jean 2008 Châteauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes (Red) Rating : 92
Clos Saint Jean 2007 Châteauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes (Red) Rating : 95
Clos Saint Jean 2011 Châteauneuf du Pape Combe des Fous (Red) Rating : 97
Clos Saint Jean 2010 Châteauneuf du Pape Combe des Fous (Red) Rating : 99
Clos Saint Jean 2009 Châteauneuf du Pape Combe des Fous (Red) Rating : 99
Clos Saint Jean 2008 Châteauneuf du Pape Combe des Fous (Red) Rating : 94
Clos Saint Jean 2007 Châteauneuf du Pape Combe des Fous (Red) Rating : 100
Clos Saint Jean 2006 Châteauneuf du Pape Combe des Fous (Red) Rating : 99
Clos Saint Jean 2005 Châteauneuf du Pape Combe des Fous (Red) Rating : 100
Clos Saint Jean 2004 Châteauneuf du Pape Combe des Fous (Red) Rating : 94
Clos Saint Jean 2003 Châteauneuf du Pape Combe des Fous (Red) Rating : 97
Clos Saint Jean 2010 Châteauneuf du Pape Sanctus Sanctorum (Red) Rating : 100
Clos Saint Jean 2009 Châteauneuf du Pape Sanctus Sanctorum (Red) Rating : 100
Clos Saint Jean 2007 Châteauneuf du Pape Sanctus Sanctorum (Red) Rating : 100
Clos Saint Jean 2011 Châteauneuf du Pape Deus ex Machina (Red) Rating : 98
Clos Saint Jean 2010 Châteauneuf du Pape Deus ex Machina (Red) Rating : 100
Clos Saint Jean 2009 Châteauneuf du Pape Deus ex Machina (Red) Rating : 99
Clos Saint Jean 2008 Châteauneuf du Pape Deus ex Machina (Red) Rating : 96
Clos Saint Jean 2007 Châteauneuf du Pape Deus ex Machina (Red) Rating : 100
Clos Saint Jean 2006 Châteauneuf du Pape Deus ex Machina (Red) Rating : 99
Clos Saint Jean 2005 Châteauneuf du Pape Deus ex Machina (Red) Rating : 100
Clos Saint Jean 2004 Châteauneuf du Pape Deus ex Machina (Red) Rating : 96
Clos Saint Jean 2003 Châteauneuf du Pape Deus ex Machina (Red) Rating : 99
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