I make no bones about the fact that I am extremely choosy about (and often dismissive about the majority of) Chateauneuf-du-Papes. Too many are hot, alcoholic, clumsy and downright jammy/baked. So here is a tasting note on a really brilliant example....
1999 was the theme at Nottingham Wine Circle last night and one of the Chateauneuf freaks brought Clos des Papes 1999. I have to say it was an utterly gorgeous wine - possibly in the top 5 Chateauneufs I have tasted, ever. Full of luscious, fresh and pastille-y blackcurrant fruit, rich, yet elegant, floral, earthy, slightly spicy, warm (but not at all hot) and, most importantly, balanced. It was served double blind (i.e. in a Bordeaux-type bottle) and I was almost in the northern Rhone. In fact, the person that brought this wine kindly allowed me to take the remains of the bottle home and I am just enjoying it now - and it is still alive and very enjoyable.
That earthiness has developed into a full-blown leafy, forest floor and forest fruit sort of complexity. It really is a very special and very lovely wine - almost (sorry to use the age-old term) "Burgundian" in its elegance. No hotness, no shittiness, no baked fruit, no overt sweetness. Yes, there is sweet fruit, but it is all in balance, with some lovely acidity. Definitely my kind of Chateauneuf! In fact, courtesy of Nottingham Wine Circle, I have tasted a great many vintages of this wine (in all honesty, possibly more than your average Clos des Papes fan) and most - though not all - have been a joy. Along with Vieux Telegraph, this has become my favourite Chateauneuf grower - and one I would be happy to drink anytime. Yum!
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