Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Irresistible Attraction of Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Chateauneuf-du-Pape is largely responsible for my obsession with wine. It was while tasting some 2003 CdPs that I began to realize what wine was capable of accomplishing. The power, complexity and sexiness of these wines completely drew me in. Naturally, I bought a lot of CdPs, despite my meager journalist's salary, and have continued buying and drinking them ever since. 

One of the first wines I bought for cellaring was a four-pack of 2004 Domaine des Pères de L'Église Châteauneuf-du-Pape "Le Calice de Saint-Pierre". The bottle I opened upon release was superb, showing lots of earthy, barnyard aromas and flavors. The second bottle fell victim to my palate a few months later. I opened my third bottle of this wine in 2008, and I made a note that my last bottle could be cellared for a decade. Well, I made it four years before opening my last one, and I consider that quite an accomplishment. This wine has undergone a lot of change over the years, and it’s been fun to watch it age.

This time around, the wine is a red plum color, very bright and clear, accented by orange and hints of brown. Bright cranberry fruit is the first thing I notice on the nose, but the complexity of aromas really grew over the course of the evening, evolving to show fig paste and a Southern Rhone medley of lavender, earth and beef jerky.

This CdP is 95% grenache, with touches of syrah and mourvedre.
The palate is full of grainy tannins and gushing fruit. This is a very ripe wine, drinking more like a brawny 2003 than a more restrained 2004. I love the roasted plum fruit and barbecue sauce flavors that just glide over the palate. This wine has lots of beef, dried leaves and tobacco flavors mixed in there as well. The fresh acid makes it easy to sip. Believe it or not, the 14.7% alcohol doesn’t intrude. A distinct flavor of dark chocolate lingers on the finish.

This is a more modern-styled Chateauneuf, but it’s clearly well-made, complex and, most of all, delicious. This is the best showing yet from this wine, and I sure wish I had another bottle to cellar for a few more years. It's nice to remind myself why I got into wine in the first place, and why I still love it so.

91+ points IJB

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