Charles Melton’s Nine Popes is a blend of grenache, mourvedre and shiraz. I wasn’t able to find any information about the 1996 vintage of this wine from the winery’s website, and so I can offer my impressions of it only.
It is bright with a medium(+) intensity expression of ruby in colour. The nose however is most unusual. Mostly unpleasant in fact. Initially, a pronounced intensity aroma of burnt rubber, rubber, Converse runners and tar dominated. With time, this was supplemented, rather than displaced, by strong aromas of cardamon, green herbs, star anise, varnish and boot polish, with a lick of acetone. I disliked it immensely. Others may not. Especially since the palate somehow shared none of these foibles. Medium(+) length (even long length perhaps), medium tannins and acid, and medium(+) body and medium intensity of flavours of smoke, anise and grilled meats are evident. Of itself, the palate is close to outstanding, but together with its nose, the wine breaks even only. 79 points (“fine” only)