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jancis Robinson 21 Nov 2016 Rhône 2015 – Châteauneuf Tradition bottlings

 

See this guide to our coverage of 2015 Rhône.

 

They’re very happy about 2015 reds in Châteauneuf, but even prouder of their 2016s. I heard 2015 likened to the particularly ripe 2009 or 2005 vintages while 2016, with its excellent pH levels, is said to be more like the fresher, more structured 2010.

They’re particularly happy about the more generous yields of 2015, especially after the tiny yields of 2014 and 2013. ‘The last vintage that was generous in quantity was 2007′, observed Mr Gloom, Paul-Vincent Avril of Clos des Papes, one of the few producers to eschew the increasing practice of making supposedly superior Cuvées Spéciales as opposed to the regular bottlings known locally as Tradition wines.

Popular oenologist Philippe Cambie reports that the year was ‘the warmest and sunniest throughout our territory since the beginning of meteorological statistics’. Spring arrived three weeks later than in 2014 but fine weather set in and the flowering took place in perfect conditions resulting in fruit set he describes as ‘simply exceptional’.

Spring rainfall of 170 mm (6.7 in) had been relatively normal but June and July were particularly dry and hot with many a day over 37 °C (100 °F). From mid June to mid August less than 60 mm of rain fell. Total hours of sunshine from April to September was 1,941, more than in 2010 and 2011, which everyone thought of as being particularly sunny. The vintage was arguably rescued from dangerously sunburnt, dried-out grapes by rain in mid August, and the fact that although days were torrid, nights were not and these lower temperatures probably helped the phenolics.

Disease pressure was minimal and the harvest relatively tranquil. White wine grapes were picked at the end of August, Syrah was the first red wine grape variety to ripen in most places, and was particularly admired in 2015. Grenache and Mourvèdre, particularly in the south of the appellation, suffered more from vine shut down and some of the latter were picked as late as mid October.

Thanks to the drought, the grapes had thick skins and care had to be taken not to extract the high levels of phenolics too enthusiastically. I found both the colour and the styles of wine all over the place – hardly surprising perhaps when I tasted more than 120 Tradition bottlings of Châteauneuf – with wines varying from pale burgundy colour to that of dark claret. In fact there seemed to be quite a significant proportion of wines made in a somewhat burgundian fashion – far more than there used to be. The influence of whole-bunch fermentations seems to be growing. But I encountered a far lower proportion of wines with uncomfortably drying finishes than I did in the north. There seemed to be much, much less over-extraction or over-oaking than there was a few years ago. Overall I thought there was a big improvement in winemaking.

Although I encountered some green, unripe phenolics (presumably the result of blocked ripening in Grenache and/or Mourvèdre), tannins in general seemed pretty ripe. Sweet cherry – red and black – notes were common and there were many transparent floral styles, with the best managing a rather mineral note too. I think many people who have found red Châteauneuf too much in the recent past would warm to this well-balanced style. See the wide range of alcohol levels specified.

The 128 wines are in the order tasted. We will be adding to these notes so any late additions will appear at the end. However, if you want to order the notes differently, you can use the menu below – and then return to the default order if you want to see those additions.

The background information in italics was provided by the producers via the Syndicat. Don’t forget that the French tend to express acidity as sulphuric, which is why the TA figures might look low. (Multiply by roughly 1.5 to see acidity expressed as tartaric.)

 

Order by defaultscoreproducervintage ascendingvintage descendingappellation

 

 

Tardieu Laurent 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
70% Grenache (60-80 years old), 25% Syrah (40 years old), 5% Cinsault (60 to 80 years old). Les Bedines, La Crau on big rounded pebbles, Les Gardioles, Coste Froide. Half whole bunch, aged in one-year-old barrels. (Whatever do they do with their new ones?!)

Dark ruby with a pale rim. Broad and warm, quite evolved, on the nose. Approachable already in a rose-petal sort of wine! Very new-wave Grenache – the Pinot side of the grape. Very charming. This won’t be released until autumn 2017 but I could drink it this evening, even though there is no shortage of very fine tannins on the end. 14.5% 
Drink 2017-2024
£215 per case of 12 ib 
17

Ch de Vaudieu (Bréchet) 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Vaudieu. pH 3.65, TA 3.2 g/l. 81% Grenache, 19% Syrah. Destemmed. Vinified in stainless steel. Aged for 12 months: 15% demi-muid, 19% very old barrique, 66% cement tanks.

Tasted blind. Pale greyish crimson. Rather industrial nose and pinched palate – no great distinction. Slightly jammy. Astringent finish. 15% 
Drink 2021-2029

15

 

Le Clos du Caillou 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Les Bédines, Les Cassanets. pH 3.64, TA 3.47 g/l. 85% Grenache, 10% Mourvèdre, 5% Syrah. Destemmed. Vinified in cement tank. Aged for 15 months in foudre.

Tasted blind. Refined, direct nose with some sweet fruit on the palate and a certain tightness on the end. Perhaps the tannins and alcohol are just a tad too dominant but the raw material is good, even if there is a slightly stewed note.  14.5% 
Drink 2024-2034

16

 

Brotte, Dom de Barville 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Beau Renard, Colombis, Combes Masques, Pradel. pH 3.6, TA 3.3 g/l. 80% Grenache, 5% Mourvèdre, 15% Syrah. Destemmed. Vinified in cement tank. Aged for 12 months: 30% foudre, 20% new barrels, 20% used barrels, 30% cement.

Tasted blind. Ruby already and quite a bright, healthy colour. Light nose with masses of spice – almost cinnamon! Friendly, fairly early-maturing wine with light well-judged tannins. Some strawberry fruit.  14.5% 
Drink 2021-2030

16.5

Ch de la Font du Loup 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Font du Loup. pH 3.75, TA 3.29 g/l. 5% Cinsault, 60% Grenache, 20% Mourvèdre, 15% Syrah. Whole bunch. Vinified in 40% stainless steel, 60% cement. Aged for 18 months in 20% foudre, 20% demi-muid, 15% old barrique, 10% stainless steel, 35% cement.

Tasted blind. Very sweet on the nose – like candy floss! Round and flattering with a little rose-petal flavour and lots of appeal. Sufficient acidity and a little bit of tannin. A charmer for early drinking. Not that long. 14.5% 
Drink 2020-2028

16.5

 

Ch de la Font du Loup, Les Demoiselles de la Font du Loup 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Bright ruby. Smells industrial. Not much real depth of fruit – just sweet and sour and a bit pinched on the end.  
Drink 2019-2025

15.5

Dom du Grand Tinel 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
pH 3.55, TA 3.66 g/l. 70% Grenache, 10% Mourvèdre, 20% Syrah. Destemmed. Vinified in 50% stainless steel, 50% cement tank. Aged in 25% each of foudre, demi-muid, stainless steel and cement.

Tasted blind. Healthy bright crimson. Sweet, floral fruit on the nose. Some pepperiness and lots of savoury, energetic fruit. Complete, with some ambition but no need to age that long. 15% 
Drink 2020-2028

17

 

St-Paul 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
pH 3.62, TA 3.54 g/l. 70% Grenache, 30% Syrah. Whole bunch. Vinified in 90% stainless steel, 10% tronconic vat. Aged in 25% each of foudre, demi-muid, stainless steel and used barrels.

Tasted blind. Dark ruby. Not much nose. Hard-candy flavours but not quite enough grunt in the middle. A bit simple. 14.8% 
Drink 2019-2026

15.5

 

Dom des Sénéchaux 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Bois Sénéchaux. pH 3.65, TA 3.2 g/l. 61% Grenache, 17% Mourvèdre, 22% Syrah. Partial whole bunch. Vinified in cement, aged in foudre (55%), used barrels (30%), cement (15%).

Tasted blind. Dark ruby. Thick and gamey. Very substantial, complex wine that is actually in balance. Serious, rather sophisticated Châteauneuf. With a future. Good persistence.  14.5% 
Drink 2024-2036

17.5

 

Dom Porte Rouge 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Colombis, Pied de Baud, Le Pied Long, Roquete, Terres Blanches, Tresquoys. pH 3.50, TA 3.6 g/l. 80% Grenache, 5% Mourvèdre, 15% Syrah. Partial whole bunch. Vinified in stainless steel (70%), cement (30%). Aged 12 months in used barrels (85%) and stainless steel (15%).

Tasted blind. Mid blackish crimson. Sweet and sleek. Not quite the country cousin. Some oak influence here? Sweet, spicy stuff. Just slightly pinched on the end.  14.5% 
Drink 2024-2034

16

Le Vieux Donjon 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Crista (north), Moulin à Vent, Mourre de Gaud, Pied de Baud, Pied Long. 5% Cinsault, 75% Grenache, 10% Mourvèdre, 10% Syrah. Partial whole bunch. Vinified in cement tank. Aged for 18 months in foudre.

Tasted blind. Very dark healthy crimson. Lightly medicinal on the nose. Lots of energy here with big fruit impact and fine tannins. This should deliver. A confident, non-formulaic rendition. Long and spicy. Quite intense. 14.8% 
Drink 2023-2035

17.5

La Consonnière 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Bédines, Font du Loup, Pignan (north), Les Saintes Vierges. pH 4.20, TA 4 g/l. 85% Grenache, 15% Mourvèdre. Destemmed. Vinified in cement tank. Aged for 22 months in demi-muid (30%) and cement (70%).

Tasted blind. Light ruby. Strawberry fruit. Very salty/savoury. Light and fresh. Not quite the follow through one would hope for. It’s pretty hot and alcoholic on the end. But there is some pleasure here. 15% 
Drink 2020-2028

16

Jean Royer 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
La Crau, Les Grandes Serres. pH 3.50, TA 3.5 g/l. 5% Cinsault, 90% Grenache, 5% Syrah. Partial whole bunch. Vinified in cement and stainless steel. Aged in demi-muid, used barrels and stainless steel.

Tasted blind. Mid ruby. Not much nose. Then lots of genuine concentrated fruit. Very big and round. Lots of life here with no obvious forcing mechanism though for the moment the tannins are a bit dominant. 16% 
Drink 2024-2033

16.5+

Olivier Hillaire 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Font de Michelle, Grand Pierre, Mourre de Gaud. 90% Grenache, 10% Syrah. Destemmed. Vinified in cement tank. Aged for 13 months in used barrels.

Tasted blind. Transparent garnet. Rich and rose-petal perfumed. Already quite resolved but with real energy and interest here. Sweet and transparent. Racy. A twenty-first-century rendition that delivers. Lots underneath. 14.8% 
Drink 2024-2038

18

Patrice Magni, Sensation 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Bosquets, Relagnes. pH 3.55, TA 3.75 g/l. 70% Grenache, 10% Mourvèdre, 20% Syrah. Partial whole bunch. Vinified in cement tank. Aged in used barrels (30%), and cement (70%).

Tasted blind. Dark ruby. Lots of evolution at the rim. Heady ripeness on the nose. Then very tough and charmless on the palate. Falls away on the end. Shame.  14.5% 
Drink 2020-2025

15.5

André Brunel, Les Cailloux 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Le Bois de la Ville, Cansaud, Farguerol (north), Revès, Serres. pH 3.75, TA 3 g/l. 5% Cinsault, 70% Grenache, 15% Mourvèdre, 10% Syrah. Partial whole bunch. Vinified in cement tank. Aged for 18 months in used barrels (10%) and cement (90%).

Tasted blind. Healthy bright garnet. Lightly gamey nose. Lots of sweetness and spice. Then rather tough on the end. Hint of dried coffee.  14% 
Drink 2024-2034

16.5

Louis Bernard 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre. Partial whole bunch. Aged for 12 months.

Tasted blind. Bright crimson. Real drive behind this wine. Rich and thick. Lots of density and some dried herbs. Needs time though.  
Drink 2023-2035

17

 

Ravoire & Fils, Olivier Ravoire 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
80% Grenache, 20% Syrah. Destemmed. Aged 12-18 months in 75% cement, 25% new French oak barrels, 225-litre for the Syrah and 600-litre for the Grenache.

Tasted blind. Smudgy mid crimson. Very ripe notes indeed on the nose – kirsch? Could do with a bit more freshness but it certainly delivers sweet, ripe fruit. Plus an unusual vanilla note. 
Drink 2020-2028

16

Mayard, Clos du Calvaire 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
pH 3.99, TA 2.79 g/l. 10% Cinsault, 70% Grenache, 5% Mourvèdre, 15% Syrah. Destemmed. Vinified and aged in cement tank.

Tasted blind. Pale to mid garnet. Interest and savour on the nose with nothing forced. Floral idiom and lovely balance on the palate. Polished tannins with a really appetising ‘mineral’ note. 15% 
Drink 2022-2033

17.5

 

Mayard, Dom du Père Pape 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
pH 3.9, TA 2.8 g/l. 5% Cinsault, 60% Grenache, 15% Mourvèdre, 20% Syrah. Whole bunch. Vinified in cement tank. Aged in foudre.

Tasted blind. Dark crimson. Ripe, floral nose. Rich and roistering on the palate. Ripe tannins. Substantial wine with quite a bit of herbiness. 15% 
Drink 2023-2033

17

Bosquet des Papes 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Barbe d’Asne, Bois de Boursan, Bosquets, Esqueirons, Gardiole, Grandes Serres, Mont Pertuis, Montredon, Pignan (north), Terres Blanches. 1% Cinsault, 1% Counoise, 75% Grenache, 10% Mourvèdre, 12% Syrah, 1% Vaccarèse. Partial whole bunch. Vinified in cement tank. Aged for 12 months in foudre (60%), demi-muid (20%), cement (20%).

Tasted blind. Bright crimson. Sweet and toasty on the nose. Then a bit of a rusty-nail sensation on the finish. 15% 
Drink 2022-2030

15.5

Dom L’Abbé Dîne 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Tasted blind. Transparent garnet. Not much nose. Ripe and rosy at first but rather green tannins on the end. 
Drink 2023-2030

15.5

Gabriel Meffre, St-Théodoric 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Mostly Grenache with some Syrah. Partially destemmed. 14 months’ ageing in 70% stainless steel and 30% barrique.

Tasted blind. Exceptionally dark crimson with a healthy glow. Very intense, somehow ‘glossy’-fruited nose. A little severe and beef extract on the end but it’s certainly ambitious. Very sweet start and showing lots of effort in tannin management. Inky end. 
Drink 2022-2029

16.5

Duseigneur 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Tasted blind. Mid crimson. Rich, potent nose. Very sweet start. Ambitious. Lots there and set for the long term with a lot of fine tannins on the end. Every ounce extracted from the grapes … A little 1990s. Very hot finish. Not quite appetising enough.  
Drink 2025-2035

16

Dom de la Charbonnière 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
pH 3.77, TA 2.95 g/l. 70% Grenache, 15% Mourvèdre, 15% Syrah. Destemmed. Vinified in stainless steel (50%) and tronconic vats (50%). Aged in foudre (10%), demi-muid (20%), used barrels (5%), stainless steel (5%), and tronconic vats (60%).

Tasted blind. Mid crimson with a fairly pale rim. Smudgy nose – indistinct. Bright, sweet cherry fruit. Lots of charm and ambition. Needs time for the tannins to soften but it’s serious stuff. Long. 15% 
Drink 2025-2035

16.5+

Giraud, Prémices 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Tasted blind. One of the palest wines in this range. Completely transparent cherry red. Sweet and round and almost rude in its simplicity! Like a candied apple. But not really much depth. A bit scrawny overall. Dry tannins on the end. 
Drink 2019-2025

15.5

 

Giraud 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Tasted blind. Cloudy dark crimson. Heady, polished and intense. Very ambitious, rich and layered with rather dry tannins on the end. Some alcohol. 
Drink 2023-2033

16.5

 

Copyright © 2016 Jancis Robinson