Sunday, 13 September 2009

Chateauneuf-du-Pape - is it growing on me?

Following on from my tasting note on the lovely Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe 1994 (see Sunday 30 August below) we had an intersting tasting at the Nottingham Wine Circle this week, based on New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs and Chateauneuf-du-Pape. The less said about the Sauvignons, the better, as far as I am concerned. They ranged from pretty poor to fairly good, but that's about the long and the short of it. In fact, unless it is made by a good winemaker in the cooler climes of the Loire Valley (or by the odd quality grower in Languedoc - but I would say that!) it can be a pretty boring grape variety.

The Chateauneufs, on the other hand, ranged from reasonably good to excellent, so here are some thoughts on a few of the ones we tasted;

Domaine Chante Perdrix Selection Reflets 1986 was lovely, with a complex perfume of liqourice, rotting old fruit, forest floor and polished wood. No real fruit flavours left, just beautifully "winey", herby and spicey, in an old sort of way.

Clos de l'Oratoire des Papes 2001 was nice, if not top-notch. Relatively young, but nevertheless not as soft as some 2001's, though with a lot of character and some nice fruit and spicey warmth. Not a polished wine, but nicely rustic, and not bad for what I believe was a supermarket wine.

Clos des Papes 2000, on the other hand, was savoury, herby and meaty, but supremely elegant. It also has some of that classic baked fruit character, which can be too much in the clumsier Chateauneufs, but in the hands of a skilled and sympathetic winemaker can add depth and richness to an otherwise elegant wine. And this one - as with most vintages of Clos des Papes - was truly light on its feet. In fact, I know of no other Chateauneuf grower that produces such elegant wines. Very classy stuff, that will be even better in 10 years' time.

Mont Redon 1999 was light-ish and more like a good Cotes du Rhone than classic Chateauneuf - nice acidity, quite light and rustic, with a hint of stalkiness. Needs drinking fairly soon, though.

Domaine de Villeneuve 1998 was a bit soupy and, to be honest, a bit boring. In fact, it had what I call the "1998 disease" of bovril, meat, leather and the like - but little left in the way of fruit. So many Rhone wines - i.e. not just Chateauneuf - have, after a promising first few years (and some great reviews from those "expert" critics) lost most of their fruit and taste soupy and baked. This one may age a bit, but if there is little in the way of fruit now, then what would be the point? I say drink up.

Clos du Mont Olivet 1999 was also full of secondary aromas and flavours, but had much more in the way of fruit. An enjoyable wine, though my note is too sketchy to do it justice - I was finding it hard to retain my concentration and lucidity by the end!

Anyway, an enjoyable tasting - at least as far as the red wines were concerned - and perhaps confirmation that I am beginning to appreciate Chateauneuf-du-Pape a little more. Though it will never quite match the true elegance and excitement of the top wines of the Northern Rhone.


Inspector Clouseau said...

In response to your question in the title to this piece, I would hope so, especially de Beaucastel.

Nice work. I came across your blog while “blog surfing” using the Next Blog button on the blue Nav Bar located at the top of my site. I frequently just travel around looking for other blogs which exist on the Internet, and the various, creative ways in which people express themselves. Thanks for sharing.

Leon Stolarski said...

Thanks for dropping by, Inspector (great name, by the way!). I must admit that Beaucastel doesn't really do it for me (with a few notable exceptions - I've tasted many vintages) but the likes of Vieux Telegraphe, Clos des Papes, Les Cailloux etc certainly do.

I really appreciate your comments, too, about my Blog in general. I keep hearing from people I've never met or heard from before, which I guess means that it is actually doing what it is meant to do - spreading the word about good wine. I also took a few minutes to scan through your blog - and will certainly check in later today, to have a closer look. Hail to the power of blogging - and long may it continue!

Best regards