Few estates epitomize Châteauneuf-du-Pape like Le Vieux Donjon. Family-owned, it is now run by the sister-and-brother team of Claire and François Michel, who succeeded their father, the legendary Lucien Michel. In 2012, a vineyard purchased on sandy soils bolstered the domaine’s holdings to 99 acres while providing access to all four terroirs in the appellation (galets, clay, limestone and sand). The 2016 is a 75-10-10-5 percent blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsault, respectively, vinified traditionally, with one exception—in this vintage, a small portion was aged in cement vats (instead of entirely in foudres) to emphasize the freshness of the fruit. With its telltale juniper note and vibrant minerality, this is one of the most ageworthy and widely available bottlings from this storied appellation.
This offers a blitz of bay leaf and juniper notes out front, followed by a racy and tightly coiled core of red and black currant, damson plum and cherry fruit flavors. Lots of brisk iron and garrigue accents rifle through the finish. Clear, precise and streamlined, this should age wonderfully. Best from 2020 through 2040.—James Molesworth