Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Checking in on Châteauneuf-du-Pape

I’m lucky to have some friends who enjoy Chateauneuf-du-Pape as much, if not more, than I do. The last time I tasted a few Chateauneufs was in April at a tasting dinner at Urban Butcher, so it was about time for another CdP session.

Yes, it’s been sweltering here in the Nation’s Capital, and hearty Southern Rhone reds aren’t the first thing on my list, but I still glad to get together with some friends and taste through some goodies. Unfortunately, the 1994 Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe was spoiled by volatile acidity and the 2005 Domaine Charvin suffered from cork taint. 

Oh well, the other wines made up for them. 

1985 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Nose: dusty, earthy, mushrooms, not a ton of fruit. Silky palate, still medium tannins but goes down easy. Raspberry and black cherry, laced with earth, anise, sun-dried tomato, mushroom and earth. Beautiful stuff, still going if stored properly. (92 points)

1990 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
What a beautifully intricate wine. The nose is sublime: silky red fruit, beef broth, complex spice, pepper, bacon, roses. So pure on the palate, bold but fresh, elegant, full of tangy life. Red berry fruit, dried roses, rhubarb, charcoal, fire pit, beef broth. Complex, long, clean, pure. A gorgeous treat. (96 

2000 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
At first this was very brash and hard, but opened up nicely of the course of a few hours. Tart red berries, smoke, charcoal and anise on the nose. Firm, chewy tannins, the palate is full of black cherries and fig paste, matched by complex notes of anise cookie, smoke, charcoal, bacon fat and loamy soil. Firm, full, definitely a lot of time ahead but this has a lot to tell at this point if you give it time. (93 

2001 Clos des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
A bit primal at first, but even two hours does wonders for this beauty. Nose of raspberry jam, cherries, roses, rhubarb. Pure, juicy and silky despite the power, this is an elegant wine with lots to show: anise, caramel, smoke, earth, roasted herbs. Long and beautiful, a rich approach but oh so pretty. So much life ahead. (95 

2005 Domaine Charvin Côtes du Rhône (Le Poutet) - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône
Okay, so this isn
t a CdP, but it's from Charvin and it sure drinks like a far more expensive wine. Elegant and floral with sweet cherries and roses on the nose. Silky but still firm tannins, lots of plums and red cherries. Smooth but still powerful with notes of herbs, black pepper, red pepper, earth. Tasted blind, I guessed this as an 09, it was that well-structured and seemingly young. Impressive to see how well this is doing (given proper storage, of course). Charvin’s Le Poutets can age! (90 points)

2006 Le Vieux Donjon Châteauneuf-du-Pape - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Medium ruby. Tart currants, fig paste, rhubarb, tobacco, cowhide aromas. I opened this the night before, showing firm tannins, moderate acid and a course, dusty feel. Smoothed out by day two and got more expressive. The saucy black cherry fruit is laced with roasted herbs, pepper, rich earth, granite, dark chocolate shavings. Notes of anise and sweet roasted figs on the finish. Very good stuff but I’d hold off for another three or four years before trying again. (92 points)

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