Chateauneuf du Papes: Some tasty 2010’s & beyond
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Chateauneuf du Papes: Some tasty 2010’s & beyond

Following trails in southern Germany and Champagne (see last five posts), I met my family in Paris and headed to the southern Rhone for a vacation. I took the time to look at many top estates` ’10`s out of tank, many still unassembled; some ’09`s, and some vibrant and highly drinkable, if not slightly herbal, ’08`s.

Given the slew of consistently warm and heady vintages in this part of France recently, all souped up with considerable alcohol, the ’08`s make for a refreshing change to the status-quo. They have a garrigue-scented moreishness when at their best, that should not go under-appreciated. After all, wine is for drinking and not for pontificating, no matter how intoxicating scores are. I like to believe that ratings are largely a foolish yet necessary evil. The proof of a wine’s mettle is in the glass and in the moment when it is raised to the lips!

Chateauneuf du Pape

Clos du Caillou


Clos du Caillou Cotes du Rhone Bouquet des Garrigues 2008: warm climate Pinot Noir-like aroma of mottled dark / red fruit, with the echo of 2008 in the background: scrub and a lifting scent of menthol 86

Bouquet des Garrigues 2009: more along my lines of expectation- framboise, liquorice and mouth-wetting length. Avoids the thick skinned drying tannins of so many ’09’s 88

2008 Chateauneuf: blend of le Saffre, Quartz and Reserve to become one wine in this difficult year. Tighter palate, highly savoury with hints of mocha and coffee bean, laced with a savoury tang of garrigues. Long, moreish and sappy 89

les Quartz 2009: Grenache with 15% Syrah. Very luxe. Tastes salubrious, if that makes sense. Fig and mocha notes reverberating on a long, smooth, silky palate of great refinement, length and sheen which I occasionally find a bit boring. However in the context of ’08, a wonderfully drinkable year albeit a vintage that has turned out quite a bit of green wine, this tastes polished in the context. No ’09 dry skinned tannins here 93

les Saffres 2009: more luscious than the Quartz perhaps, yet lacks the tightly defined tannin definition and salubrious fruit of the former. A little looser in the mouth although the tannins build with air, so time will tell. Solid on second sip; yet slightly rustic 89


2010 Cotes du Rhone Bouquet des Garrigues Blanc: white floral notes with a waxy, appley, honeyed note reminiscent of Chenin, rather than the oily marzipan that these wines often slip into. Ripe yet very fresh year, it would seem 88

Domaine Pierre Usseglio et Fils

2010 Cotes du Rhone: pruney yet fresh and saline. Quintessentially of the region but more skinsy perhaps, than the wines of Clos du Caillou. Nevertheless, a substantial mouthful of wine 86

2010 Chateauneuf du Pape: dark fruit spectrum on the nose, verging into traditional English Christmas cake territory and a spectrum of dried herb and fruits. Expansive fibrous tannins; really palpable and yet balanced by a phalanx of sheer ripeness 90

2009 Chateauneuf du Pape: more robust tannins here, suggesting warmer sites and later picking perhaps than at Clos du Caillou, whose ’09’s are truly exemplary. Very long however and the tannins are extremely tight and finely grained; while the fruit is more red fruit scented rather than the dark and brooding ’10 91

2010 Mon Aeuil (drawn from tank for Parker tasting one day prior): pruney, tight; coffee; rich. Rather backward and difficult to get a handle on right now. Formidably concentrated surely, but not an easy drink. Perhaps that is not the point N/A

2009 Mon Aeuil: more prominent tannins on ’09 in general, yet the tannins are finer, tighter and sandy; more finessed than in ’10 at this domaine. Admittedly, ’10 may have a more mineral take on the nose, yet is this what Chateauneuf is about? Long, sinewy, yet not at all angular. Boysenberry and scrub yet not ‘dead’ fruited 94

2010 Reserve des 2 Freres: opened for a number of days. Drawn especially for Parker yet opened days before his arrival in the belief that the wine needs more time in contact with oxygen. Sheer mass. Dark fruit and volatility with a lot of new barrique tannins. Hits one over the head, but not necessarily easy. These wines must be accepted as they are like Barossa and other regions, perhaps. Not my cup of tea but at least the wine does not stray into the territory of becoming a caricature 90

2009 Reserve des 2 Freres: new oak sitting all over this right now; staining every part of the mouth. Concentrated yes, but will this stand the test of time? Too drying methinks N/A

2007 Not for You: as the amusing name suggests, a wine from the desiccated fruit zone. Overly ripe fruit (Grenache) that was rejected for the top Cuvees, whacked into barrique and sold for an exuberant price. Not for me! N/A

2010 Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc: apply, hint of marzipan and herb; on an expansive palate with refined phenolics giving grip and focus. Perhaps too phenolic. Nevertheless, I love the food-friendliness of this wine 90

Bois de Boursan

Blanc 2010: marzipan, pear and quince on nose, with expansive phenolics that are somewhat rustic, yet attractively so. Long and grippy. No oak at all on this 2010. Usually raised in larger format, neutral wood 88

Rouge 2010: floral; accentuating the Syrah component on the nose; yet in the mouth wonderfully fine grained tannins and an overall gristly, herbal expression of lavender, thyme and black olive. Fresh, fresh! Discarded 15% of stems this year which, for Jean-Paul Usseglio (winemaker), is revolutionary. Why? Given the small yield of the vintage, Jean-Paul was worried about overall ratio of solids to juice and excessive tannin levels  92

Cuvee Felix ’10: more Mourvedre; older vine selection across numerous terroirs: clay, limestone, galets. Dark fruit accented with black olive and licorice, yet far more closed on nose than is usual; broad taut tannins; a brooding wine in need of time (15 years plus). Fabulous length nevertheless, and bristling with intent 95

Jean-Paul did not make Felix in 2008, selling 15% to negociants.

Rouge 2009: richer and riper with more abrasive thick-skinned tannins sans the finesse of the 2010, yet explosive and backward. Not too drying but in need of time. All older oak and a blend of smaller and larger format 89

Rouge ’01: wine drunk over lunch and truly outstanding. Lovely meld of truffley tertiary fruit with the spindly backbone that really marks these wines, hailing not only from old vines, but traditionally made with a greater percentage of stems than those of his neighbours. Spicy yet dichotomously svelte 95

Rouge ’96: older wine from lesser vintage. Juicy and sappy core of red fruit with spiky, green tannins yet not at all cumbersome or awkward, but refreshing and somewhat Loire-like. Very gluggable 85


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