Tag Archives: Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Cave Roger Sabon – 21/05/2012

Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2011
Nice juicy green fruit nose, slight floral edge. Good volume and texture, freshness, pear dried peach and apple. Good balance, alcohol well handled, depth and expression, delicate fruit.

Cotes-du-Rhone 2010
Classic CDR spice, earthy savouriness, good cured meat notes with blackcurrants. Very full bold juicy and warm, mouth-filling fruit , sweet plump and juicy, very generous and plummy, not in the least bit subtle. Lingering spiciness on the palate.

Lirac 2010
More ruby juby and floral fruit-sweetness, violets honey and sweet smoky ham. Soft velvety opulent and concentrated on the palate, generous forgiving tannins, subtle spice, extension, breadth and freshness.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Reserve 2009
More subtle closed nose, integrated oak and earth elements, wonderful concentration yet elegance. Subtlety, complexity of oak earth, savoury spice, almost like a four-course meal. Plump berries, fine tannins, extension on the back palate, approachable yet ageable.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Prestige 2009
More oak influence, chocolate & banana jaffle, darker berries, jammier concentration. Fuller more extractive, oakier texture, still very elegant balance, good freshness and approachability.

Le Secret de Sabon 2006
Very subtle and restrained maturity, still bright in the berry notes, not plummy or fat at all. Juicy and concentrated, full and weighty, purity of fruit, well managed oak and alcohol, concentrated acidity, but still needs a lot of time.

Cave Roger Sabon

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Chateau La Nerthe – 21/05/2012

Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2011
Nice grassy green citrus apple and pear notes, minerality and sunlight. Wonderful texture volume and depth, breadth character expression and power. Very bold fruit but also very young.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2008
Deep dark fruit, earthy and leathery, wild boar spice, yet very precise and fine. Wonderful complexity depth and also savoury, looking very young and exuberant, opulent and accessible with velvety tannins.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2007
Darker ruby floral elements, juicier nose, less earthy complexity. Very full generous and powerful, yet with soft tannins and fruit. Good volume without the same extension, both fresher and simpler.

Cuvee des Cadettes 2006
Clearly a big oak influence, chocolaty blackcurrant plum, very fruit- and oak-sweet nose, creamy nutty caramel spice. Wow concentration of tannins and fruit, very bold and powerful with a nice velvety finish. Needs a lot of time.

Chateau La Nerthe

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Chateau de Beaucastel – 21/05/2012

Roussanne Vielles Vignes 2010
Spicy floral apricot and honey with some nashi and cumquat. Ripe rich fruit-full and bold, very textured warm and spicy, youthful and heavy, very powerful.

Chateau de Beaucastel Rouge 2009
Spicy violets, crushed red earthy flinty mineral rhubarb. Fresh bold bright and vibrant, good clean tannins, full warm and powerful, elegant yet approachable.

Chateau de Beaucastel Rouge 2005
Denser and earthier, quite full and still quite tight yet picking up some maturity on the nose. Full teture and depth, generous yet developing leathery tannins.

Chateau de Beaucastel Rouge 2001
Stinky reductive and funky, showing bret notes, greatly developed yet subtle. Showing a lot of complexity, balsamic, slightly faecal, quite long with subdued fruit, very shut-down on the palate.

A large bottle of Chateau de Beaucastel

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Clos des Papes – 21/05/2012

Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2011
Very creamy, rich with vanilla and biscuit, quite textural ripe and carrying some residual sugar. Melon, pear, apple fruit, creamy thanks to malolactic, wonderful depth and purity.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2004
Starting to get some mature notes of apricot blossom, honey, dried fruits, a little like mature riesling in fact. Rich volume, fruit sweetness, creamy almonds ice cream, rich fulla nd evolved.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge 2010
Olive (black) oil, very spicy peppery with blackberries. Extremely tight and bold, very concentrated, crushed herbs, cumin, brambly and tight.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge 2009
Rubier fruitier plummier and bolder, more simple chocolate pie. Bold jammy fruit explosion, face smash, alcohol, well integrated clean finish. Power and restraint but very big.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge 2004
Showing the bottle development on the nose, stinky earthy wild fungal but still subtle. Silky refined elegant and savoury on the palate, gentle caressing tannins, still fresh and young however.

Clos des Papes

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All things considered (Rhone Valley, France – Day Three)

The Rhone Valley is arguably one of the most diverse regions in France, if not Europe. Covering over 200 km from north to south it is one of the longest regions, and with the difference in climate and soil conditions provides many opportunities for viticulture. The region is split from Valence, about 100km north of Avignon and 100 km south of Lyon. North of Valence has a much more continental climate, cooler and well protected from winds and rain. South of Valence is more Mediterranean in climate, warmer with more wind influence. This is probably the most important difference between the north and south. Throughout the entire region, there are a multitude of producers of different size and style. Growers who may not make or bottle their own wine may be part of a cooperative that vinifies the fruit, and either sells the wine in bulk or bottle. There are more artisan producers who only produce wine from their own estates, whether in a single appellation or several. Then there are those in between, who produce wine from their own estates, and also purchase fruit and/or wine from growers to produce/bottle under their own label. It is very common for producers in the Northern Rhone Valley to operate in this model, as in the north there are not enough vineyards and they are also very expensive to purchase and manage, and so they compensate by bottling wine from the south were fruit is less expensive and in much larger supply. In several cases a Cotes-du-Rhone Rouge wine may account for 50% of the bottles sold each year. The first appointment for my third day epitomises this model (Guigal), the second has only just started to move into this realm (Chateau Font de Michelle), and the third only produces wine from their own estates across three appelations/vineyards (Domaine de la Renjarde/Le Prieure de Montezargues).

Only days away from capfall and flowers developing

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Domaine Font de Michelle – 23/05/2012

Cotes-du-Rhone Rouge 2010 (grenache, syrah, cinsault)

Seductively sweet red currants, cassis and delicate floral aromas. Bold fresh and light on the palate, good acid freshness, raspberry and a little dried honey.

Cotes-du-Ventoux Rouge 2010

Very tight, quite closed and reductive, crushed green spice and menthol elements very subtle on the nose. Quite tannic and crunchy but pure and lean. Needs a little bit more time in the bottle.

Cotes-du-Rhone Village 2010 (1005 syrah)

Sweet and savoury meaty soy notes, black pepper cumin and raspberry aromas. Focus and drive on the palate, lively fruit, good intensity without heaviness, concentration with plenty of vibrancy.

Gigondas 2010 (95% grenache, 5% mouvedre)

Smoky earthy minerality, bright juicy and fresh blackcurrants. Gentle full sweet tannins, opulent and yet bold and intense, subtle savoury elements making this an ideal easy-drinking yet characterful wine.

CT9 Blanc 2011

Quite juby candied marzipan over a sweet banana nose. A tad fat and blunt on the palate, too tropical and a little dull, lacking texture and structure.

CT9 Rouge 2009

Quite stalky with nsome green menthol notes, subtle spice and dark fruit aromas. Full and generous balance on the palate, lively youthful and approachable, soft savoury complex tannins, mouth-coating but not tiring.

CT9 Vielles Vignes 2009

Spicier and meatier on the nose, classic from Le Crau, dried strawberry and black cherry with violet florals. Mature tannins, red liquorice, depth inregrity, generosity, length and intensity.

CT9 2010

Extremely complex and subtle on the nose, some red currants and raspberry but also savoury, salty and sweet at the same time. Tight, lean and focused with great structure and finesse on the palate, very young and showing amazing ageing potential.

CT9 Vielles Vignes 2010

Insane concentration and complexity aromatically, very expressive but subtle all at once. Very juicy, ripe and opulent tannins, bold and powerful yet not too dense or aggressive. A very serious wine, deserving at least 10 years of cellaring.

Domaine Font de Michelle

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Are you Rhonesome, tonight? (Rhone Valley, France – Day Two)

There are so many differences between the Northern and Southern Rhone Valleys that they should almost be called completely different names. Almost the only thing in common as I mentioned in my last post, is the fact that the four varieties grown in the north are also grown in the south. The Northern Rhone is a much more narrow and elevated valley than in the south, which opens up into wide plains with rolling hills rather than steep cliffs. This type of land actually reminds me of the way the Adige River flows south from Austria through the Italian Alto Adige and Trentino regions into Veneto. Secondly the amount of vineyards in the Northern Rhone is 3,000 hectares, which is the same amount as Chateauneuf-du-Pape alone, one single appellation of almost ten in the Southern Rhone. Thirdly the general approach for the Southern Rhone is for volume rather than quality, particularly for the Cotes-du-Rhone appellation, and there are only a few which go for quality above all else. In the Northern Rhone there is really only one appellation of eight that is more geared towards volume and compared to the Southern Rhone would be considered one of the quality appelations. In the Southern Rhone there is significantly more wine blended between areas than in the Northern Rhone, not to mention a great many more varieties blended, whereas in the north they really only use four and never blend more than two together. Probably the biggest difference is the amount of wine produced by cooperatives, much of which is sold to negociants within the Rhone Valley or outside of it and then bottled by someone else. Very rarely does wine get sold in bulk in the north; it is either sold as grapes or bottled wine. The first appointment I had for today was a negociant producer owning no vineyards (Tardieu-Laurent), and the other was the opposite, only producing wine from their vineyards in the Southern Rhone Valley (Vieux-Telegraphe).

Different sizes of barrels used to mature wine

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Vieux-Telegraphe – 22/05/2012

Clos La Roquette CT9 Blanc 2011
Rich phenolic nose, floral ripe peach, apple pear and lees notes. On the palate very light, clean and balanced, some late fruit sweetness and very subtle oak texture and complexity.

Vieux-Telegraphe CT9 Blanc 2010
Concentrated reductive yet rich nose, crushed floral perfume, guava and pear, with some lees derived nutty cheese elements. Very lively yet fat and rich texture, masculine full oaky style, well-blended but very young with great ageing potential.

Les Pallieres Terrasse du Diable Gigondas 2009
Liquorice raspberry floral fruit sweet smokiness with some subtle aromas of asparagus. Concentrated dark fruits, chocolate subtlety and fruit sweetness, stalky savoury elements with some smoky flavours as well.

Les Pallieres Les Racines Gigondas 2009
More brazen in style, raisin and caramel notes, toastier and more robust aromatically. Light and clean on the palate but with more depth, darker fruit and oak sweetness, intense spice, a more serious wine.

Clos La Roquette CT9 Rouge 2009
Light in colour, fresh clean, delicate floral and fruit elements aromatically. Good integration on the palate, full-flavoured yet soft and rich, opulent red fruits with some carob notes and also fresh acidity.

Vieux-Telegraphe CT9 Rouge 2009 (65% grenache)
Intense ruby brick red colour, closed delicate red liquorice with spice, chocolate and black fruits on the nose. Quite dense, more brooding in structure and masculine in style, smooth yet dark and bold tannins.

Vieux-Telegraphe CT9 Rouge 2001
Aromatically closed at the moment, salted chocolate and caramel, subtle red currants and raisins, smoky meat and truffle complexity. Supple yet dense tannins, not particularly expressive, very subtle mature mint notes. Hard to tell if this wine is just shut down or peaking a little bit.

Vieux-Telegraphe wooden case
Click here to read about my visit to the winery

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I’m feeling Rhonery (Rhone Valley, France – Day One)

I spent a nice weekend checking out some of the sights in Marseille and Avignon, two very important and historic cities in Provence, before heading to the next region on my trip. I was actually returning to another region I visited in France when I was here in 2010, but much like Alsace I could only spend one day in the Rhone Valley when I last visited. Whilst this was long enough to fall in love with the region, it wasn’t enough to truly learn about the different appelations and wine styles, so I was very excited to return. My plan was to spend a few days in the Southern Rhone, and a few more in the Northern Rhone, because the Valley is a few hundred kilometres long which I discovered in 2010 when I drove from Lyon to Chateauneuf-du-Pape and back in one day. From north to south they are completely different in many ways, and therefore should never be considered as one region, much like Provence. Whilst all the varieties that are grown in the Northern Rhone are found in the Southern Rhone, the opposite is not true, and the wines are very different. The appellation of Chateauneuf-du-Pape itself, covering 3,000 hectares of vineyards making it one of the largest single appelations in France, can use up to 13 varieties. Whilst the Northern Rhone has very steep vineyards with very different terroirs and only four varieties, the Southern Rhone has generally flatter vineyards and more varieties to work with and blend.

One of the most iconic items in French wine

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