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Bonneau, Clos St Jean, P. Usseglio and More: A Satisfying Tasting of Chateauneuf du Pape


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The last-minute return of Frank Morgan (Drink What YOU Like) to Maryland was the impetus for a casual night of Chateauneuf du Pape at my house.  Thus on a work night Frank, Jenn, Lou, Roland, and I gathered by the warm fire drinking a bagged bottle of bubbly.  There was no mistaking this for Krug or Dom Perignon but the lack of Champagne in my basement led to some fun jokes and general comments.  I believe it was enjoyed by all and Lou certainly ripped open the bag with curiosity.  I have lately taken to the NV Lambert de Seyssel, Petit Royal so that it now serves as our house bubbly.  This undated, yet single vintage, wine offers complexity and balance at an outstanding price.  The 2012 Mark Herold Wines, Flux, Blanc was served bagged as well.  It was a fresh, floral wine with stone notes and a lot of mouthfeel.  Everyone guessed Sauvignon Blanc with some Chenin Blanc which just demonstrates how different it was from the 2007 Clos Saint Jean, Blanc.  The latter revealed some maturity and a barrel note but its density and youthful aspect lead me to believe it will develop for quite some time.  The next morning I found both of these bottles, uncorked and half full.  I corked them, chilled them, then tasted them again.  The Mark Herold was a touch sharper but the Clos Saint Jean was drinking well with increased length.

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NV Lambert de Seyssel, Petit Royal
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is a blend of 70% Molette and 30% Altesse sourced from 10-25 year old vines.  Alcohol 12%. The nose reveals dark yellow aromas and There were soft bubbles which dance on the tongue-tip revealing a textured mousse.  Dark notes mix with the yellow fruit.  Good acidity at first leading to chewy fruit and a tangy, textured finish.  Has good complexity.  Drinks well over many nights so no rush to drink up but perfectly mature right now.  *** Now.

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2012 Mark Herold Wines, Flux, Blanc
This wine is a blend of 84% Grenache Blanc and 16% Rousanne.  Alcohol 13.3%.  The nose was floral with white fruit, stones, and freshness.  There was some grip at first then the wine rounded out a bit.  The flavors became tropical towards the finish where the salivating acidity picked up.  It became tangy with air.  It took on a little texture and some tannin.  *** Now-2017.

2007 Clos Saint Jean, Blanc, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is an equal blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, and Clairette which sees some age in new barrels.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose was taking on a little cedar and maturity.  In the mouth were round, dense flavors with stones playing a supportive role.  It was creamy towards the finish with a barrel note.  It was still tight and young.  On the second night it had a lovely mouthfeel, the minerals were more obvious, and the length of the aftertaste had improved.  *** Now-2024.

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I set out enough glasses on the dining room table for each of us to have three so we naturally tasted the Chateauneuf du Pape in flights.  All of the wines were served in bags.  The 2011 Domaine de Ferrand was interesting for its youthful red fruit and citrus note which kept putting on weight and developing a saline quality.  This seems odd but works out quite well if you are ready for an intense experience.  The 2008 Saint Cosme was not a corked bottle but its dusty nose leads me to believe it underperforming.  The 1999 Domaine Charvin showed really well and completely engaged me with its complex, earthy aromas and animale flavors.

2011 Domaine de Ferrand, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is a blend of 94% Grenache with the rest Mourvedre, Syrah, and Bourboulenc sourced from 60 to 100 year old vines.  It is aged in large oak foudre and some used barriques.  Alcohol 15%.  The nose was fresh with young fruit, a little citrus note, orange peel, perhaps clove, and candy.  In the mouth were good, young, saline red fruit.  It had nice young weight which was maintained through the finish.  The saline quality developed as well as flavors of raspberry candy.  It continued to develop with air.  On the second night, it showed some roughness in the aftertaste.  **** Now-2028.

2008 Saint Cosme, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by The Country Vintner.  This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre, 10% Cinsault, 7% Syrah, and 3% Clairette which was aged for 24 months in used barrels.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose had a maturing aroma and was, perhaps a little dusty.  The flavors were more mellow in the mouth with some black minerals and some youthfulness.  On the second night this firm wine did not give up much beyond dried herbs.  Underperforming?  * Now.

1999 Domaine Charvin, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache, 15% Syrah, and 5% Mourvedre and Vaccarese sourced from vines averaging 50 years of age.Alcohol 14%.  The nose was complex and aromatic with earth and stinky fruit.  In the mouth the fruit was chewy with good acidity.  It had a lighter beginning followed by some firmness in the finish where mature flavors came out.  It was still fresh and became more animale with air.  Nice. **** Now-2020.

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The second flight mirrored the first flight in that the first and third wines showed very well.  The 2000 Domaine du Pegau, Cuvee Reservee was drinking really well.  There was an effortless old-school quality to the wine but also a core of young fruit to carry it on for years.  I did not much care for the 2009 Domaine de la Vieille Julienne on the first night.  despite being double-decanted hours ahead of time it remained very tight and modern.  After a few more hours of air on the second night, its potential began to be revealed.  I would keep this in the cellar and reevaluate in three years.   In contrast to the Pegau which was perfectly open and consistent throughout the evening the 2001 Pierre Usseglio & Fils, Reserve des deux freres continued to evolve with air.  With lovely fruit it too was drinking well but I suspect there is more to come with this wine.

2000 Domaine du Pegau, Cuvee Reservee, Chateauneuf du Pape
This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache, 6% Syrah, 4% Mourvedre and other varieties which are fermented in cement tanks then aged in foudres.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose was quite complex with spices.  In the mouth the flavors were very good with a core of young fruit.  It was a little juicy and a touch spicy in the finish.  Why take a note when one should just drink it?  **** Now-2028.

2009 Domaine de la Vieille Julienne, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Europvin.  This wine is a blend of 65% Grenache and 35% Cinsault, Syrah, Mourvedre, and Clairette.  Alcohol 15.5%.  The nose returned to young and fresh aromas but was still tight.  In the mouth were modern fruit.  On the second night the nose was still tight with some mixed berries escaping.  In the mouth were slowly expanding flavors of blue and black fruit followed by a lot of minerals towards the finish.  It was almost metallic with minerals in the aftertaste.  There were hints of garrigue.  A powerful wine that is still firm and black.  **(**) 2018-2028.

2001 Pierre Usseglio & Fils, Reserve des deux freres, Chateauneuf du Pape
This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah which was aged in 60% foudres and 40% Burgundy barrels.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose was a little reticent at first but opened up really well with air.  The good nose was followed by lovely fruit, revealing a wine which was still youthful.  The structure was still there but the flavors were taking on thickness and ripe spices.  Plenty of life as it continued to develop all evening.  ****(*) Now-2035.

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Upon revealing the flight Roland became excited to find out we had been drinking the 2000 Pegau.  A connection was quickly made to some wine in his cellar.  As he lives just two streets away he dashed home with an empty paper bag only to return minutes later with the bag containing an open bottle.  The 2000 Bonneau, Reserve des Celestins was a great last wine.  Paul Feraud and Henri Bonneau were classmates so to sample both wines from the same vintage was cool.  The Bonneau had a bit more structure and reserves for development.  With all of the bottles revealed everyone set out to retaste the wines.  I scanned my meager notes but could not bring myself to write down more.  I wanted to drink these wines and the conversation was just too much fun, particularly on the uses of the Coravin.

It seemed that just a few minutes had passed when the bottle of Bonneau was held up.  It was to my surprise, empty.  It was the bottles of Bonneau, Charvin, Pegau, and P. Usseglio which stood empty at the end of the evening.   Perhaps that expresses the pleasure of aged Chateauneuf du Pape.  They are wines you want to drink or at least the five of us did.

2000 Bonneau & Fils, Reserve des Celestins, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is a blend of 90% Grenache and 10% Mourvedre, Syrah, Counoise, and Vaccarese which was fermented in concrete tanks then aged in old Burgundy barrels.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The color looked older and was very clear in the glass.  The nose was sweaty, engaging, and youthful.  In the mouth were fresh, chewy flavors and Kirsch.  Beautiful.  ****(*) Now-2030.

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