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Chateauneuf


bills
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Some notes on some Chateauneuf du Papes. While there are many permitted varietals allowed in Chateauneuf, the majority of producers use only about 4 – Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, and Cinsault, as well as a bit of Cunoise sometimes. The notes indicate major components only; the balance is made up of a combination of these other varietals.

If you wonder at the concentration of some of these wines, it isn’t just the warm climate – they are allowed to crop at only 35 hl/hectare as opposed to 60 in Bordeaux, and the vines grow without irrigation in fist sized rocks.

1999 Ch. Beauchene – 80% Grenache, old estate with old vines, partial destemming. This was a lighter wine with a simple warm berry nose, juicy midpalate with soft tannin, ready to roll right now and no point cellaring it.

1999 Dom. des Relagnes Cuvee Vigneronne – traditional vinification with no yeast added, 85% Grenache. Lots of jammy ripeness here, forward and ready with medium body and soft tannin.

1998 Dom. Duclaux – another early drinking wine from the owner of Vieux Lazaret. I liked the nose a bit more although it wasn’t quite as ripe, and the wine seemed to have better balance. Again, ready to drink. This producer has an old style vineyard with the varietals interplanted.

1999 Dom. du Pere Pape La Crau de Ma Mere – this one was only 70% Grenache and 10% Mourvedre, and the wine was showing more garrigue, lavender and pepper. Better flavour definition, drier than the previous wines, with good length. This could use some more time. Glad to see I have some of this one.

1999 Dom. St. Benoit Cuve de Grand Garde – More than 90% Grenache and predictably the nose was fruit driven, with a slightly pruny oxidised note. Fair bit of tannin, and a nice hint of orange peel and more than a hint of black pepper in the nose, I am not sure this one will hold as long as some critics predict, but it should repay 3-5 years of cellaring for sure.

1999 Bosquet des Papes – 70% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre, 10% Cinsault. This was the Cuvee Classique – they also make a 100% Cuvee Grenache version, and since 1990, a premium Cuvee Chantemerle. This wine was well put together, showing more gaminess and garrigue in the nose, a nice weight in mid-palate, and good length. No rush, but drinks well now.

2000 Bosquet des Papes – interesting to compare the two vintages. 199 was good, 2000 even better, yet to my taste, the 99 was slightly preferable. The 2000 had a slightly perfumed nose that the 99 lacked, and was smooth and forward, though with plenty of tannin to hold, yet with a bit less complexity right now.

2001 Font de Michelle – 65% Grenache, 15% Cinsault, 10% Mourvedre and Syrah. This was the regular cuvee. It was quite young and smooth with pepper in the finish. The colour was lighter than the others and it seemed less serious a wine and is definitely for early drinking. They do make a more serious version – I still have some 1994 Cuvee Etienne Gonnet that impressed me quite a bit. Probably time to open a bottle.

My favourites were the La Crau and the 99 Bosquet des Papes.

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Bill,

Nice notes, thanks. In reading them over it doesn't sound as if any of the CDPs you tasted have "shut down," something that I often hear ascribed to these wines in general. Sounds as if they are all showing something in the glass right now, whether nearly at peak or with a little ways to go. In your experience, are there any 1999 and 2000 CDPs that are shut down or "dumb" right now?

Thanks,

Tom

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