This is a delicious Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a region whose wines I taste infrequently. From the 2015 vintage, the Clefs des Papes has aromas of savoury plums, stones and smoke. The palate has great length and is moreish. This is a great value CNP that is ready to drink now. Rating: Very Good. Abv: 14.5%. Price: $50. Website: n/a.
Here are two sound releases from M. Chapoutier, both from the 2016 vintage. Luberon sits between the southern Rhône valley and Provence, whilst Crozes-Hermitage is in the northern Rhône and quite different in style. The 2016 vintage appears sound in the northern Rhône and a great vintage in the southern Rhône. I find Jancis Robinson’s website useful for vintage reports, although they can be on the tough side. See here www.jancisrobinson.com/learn/vintages.
Luberon Les Incontournables 2016
This is pretty good for $14. A grenache blend, it has fruity aromatics and an intensity that could place this wine as from Australia. There’s sweet fruit, herbs and chocolate by way of aroma. The palate is full bodied, with good length and a hot finish. Rating: Good. Abv: 14%. Price: $14. Website: www.chapoutier.com.
Crozes-Hermitage Les Incontournables 2016
This is quite a lovely Crozes-Hermitage release. Less deeply coloured than the Luberon, it has fragrant aromatics of perfume, roses, florals and apricot. The palate is quite primary with some jammy fruit and approachable tannins. This wine is ready to drink now. Rating: Good. Abv: 13%. Price: $28. Website: www.chapoutier.com.
This is a deeply coloured syrah wine from Xavier Gérard in Saint-Joseph in the northern Rhône valley. One sniff however and it is immediately a vin de terroir with its very distinctive aroma of rosemary and spice. The palate is dry, full bodied and made in a ripe and approachable style with mid weight tannins. Good length on the finish completes the picture. Rating: Good to Very Good. Abv: 13.5%. Price: $70.
This is a pretty basic Crozes-Hermitage from Chapoutier. The 2014 vintage has aromatics of syrah spices and earth. The palate is medium bodied. The finish is short and lacks complexity of expression. Current drinking only. Rating: Acceptable. Abv: 13%. Price: $27.
This is a very tasty Saint Joseph from Yves Cuilleron. Tasted out of a half bottle, it has red fruited aromas of redcurrant, strawberries, plus and no overt cedar influences. The palate is medium bodied, sweet fruited, balanced and youthful. (Region: Saint Joseph, Rhone Valley, France, Rating: Good, Would I buy it based on this tasting? Yes, Drink: now to 2020, Tasted: June 2017)
Other vintages reviewed:
I was impressed by this Côtes du Rhône from Domaine Roche-Audran. It’s a blend of 70% grenache, 15% syrah and 15% carignan, the vineyard is biodynamic and the vines are between 35 and 100 years old. In the glass, it’s a step up from the usual CDR. It has complex aromatics of white pepper, peppercorn, rosemary and plums. The palate is similar, with chewy, savoury tannins and good length. The syrah and the carignan, I think, have been used to very good effect in this blend, adding pepper and spice to its grenache core.
Rating: Good to Very Good
Vendors and website: http://discovervin.com.au
I view Guigal’s Côtes du Rhône as the entry level benchmark of the southern Rhone valley style of GSM (grenache, syrah and mourvedre) blends. It is universally available in my experience, well made and is good value. The blend is in fact 50% syrah, 45% grenache and 5% mourvedre. An “SGM” blend somehow rolls of the tongue less easily however.
The 2011 vintage tasted here reminds of plum skins and spice, with some textural tannins on the mid palate. I’d buy more of this. Lovely drinking.
Vendors and website: http://www.guigal.com