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Rhone Research – 2016 Chateauneuf du Pape, Part 1

September 21, 2018 Leave a comment


By all accounts, the 2016 vintage is stellar in the Southern Rhone.  It is hype that the group, gathered by Phil Bernstein, of MacArthur Beverages, were no doubt aware of.  Together, we tasted through nine bottles of recently arrived 2016 Chateauneuf du Pape focusing in on some big names and top cuvees.   The reputation bore out in our limited experience.

These bottles of 2016 Chateauneuf du Pape are dense, highly flavorful wines with ample fruit and fresh acidity, that can be subtly or not so subtly intense. In this vein, the vintage character is evident in everything we tasted. At an individual level, some wines will come to sooner, like the Clos de Papes and the regular Domaine de la Janasse. The former was the only bottle finished off but the latter is nearly as good right now and certainly a best buy. In fact, I prefer this cuvee over the Chaupin and Vieilles Vignes! Of course time may prove me wrong.

The Le Vieux Donjon should not be overlooked for cellaring. It sports the lowest alcohol level of the group which lends itself to the floral elegance of the fruit. I particularly liked the Domaine de Marcoux, revealing complex red berries but also like its Vieilles Vignes sibling, it contains the most structure of the lot. The Marcoux wines might take the longest to come around and be the longest to live, but they should reward handsomely. The Vieilles Vignes packs more in yet has levity despite its 16% alcohol level. It is inky, sappy, and best enjoyed in small sips at this youthful age.

The wines were all double-decanted one hour prior to the taste then served blind in paper bags.  Please find my notes below, in the order of the tasting, which includes the two Champagne as well.  I should note, that nothing is marked by *****.  The best wines will develop and improve further, so I had to leave wiggle room for improvement!

NV Veuve Fourny & Fils, Champagne Rose Brut
Imported by Kermit Lynch. Alcohol 12.6%. A pale cooper rose color. Chalk greets with the good mousse. Eventually a yeasty, cola hint then dry from the middle. Good flavor and robust personality. *** Now.

1 – 2016 Clos de Papes, Chateauneuf du Pape – $109
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre, and 10% Syrah aged in old foudre.  Grapey with some Christmas spice on the nose. In the mouth, smooth, beautiful, supple and fresh through the finish. There are hints of heat as the very fine, dry structure comes out. There is good focus to the grapey, bright fruit with a hint of nuts in the end. ****(*) Now – 2033.

2 – 2016 Roger Sabon, Prestige, Chateauneuf du Pape – $75
Imported by European Cellars.  This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre, and 5% other varieties.  Alcohol 15%. Fresh on the nose with a greenhouse aspect, more modern. Dense, thick, and savory with a mineral middle. With air the wine remains thick but with cool acidity and attractive fat in the aftertaste. Much better than the Reserve.  **** Now – 2030.

3 – 2016 Roger Sabon, ReserveChateauneuf du Pape – $50
Imported by European Cellars.  This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre, and 10% Syrah aged in foudres and vats.  Alcohol 15%. Subtle but a touch more floral. Fresh and redder with watering acidity. It remains a brighter wine that is tightly focused around a finely woven wood vein. With air too much heat for my preference. *** 2021- 3035.

4 – 2016 Domaine de la Janasse, Vieilles VignesChateauneuf du Pape – $109
Imported by European Cellars.  This wine is a blend of 75% Grenache, 12% Mourvedre, 8% Syrah, and the rest other permitted varieties.  Alcohol 15%. Raisinated, intense, with heat early on and powerful structure with black stones in the finish. With air the wine remains dense and packed through the stone and mineral finish. Weakest of this flight of three.  It improves with air, but is completely shut down.  ***(**) 2023 – 2038.

5 – 2016 Domaine de la Janasse, Chateauneuf du Pape – $50
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 15%. Rounded, supple with better balance, and an old-school flavor aspect. There is fat that covers the concentrated red fruit into the beautiful mineral end. With air the wine remains pure in fruit, clean, with powdery texture. Ripe tannins build and expand in the end. This should be in every CdP lovers cellar….a stellar buy. ****(*) Now – 2028.

6 – 2016 Domaine de MarcouxChateauneuf du Pape – $65
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 15.5%. More robust in flavor with red and blue fruit carried by fresh acidity. It becomes brighter in the finish where ripe tannins coat the gums. The most tannic of the trio but it is opening up with air to reveal a good balance of flavor in the form of ripe berries, strawberry, and raspberry. It eventually exposes complexity that persists through the finish. There is even a piñon hint. This should be in your cellar too! ****(*) Now – 2043.

7 – 2016 Domaine de Marcoux, Vieilles VignesChateauneuf du Pape – $159
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 16%. Backwards on the nose. In the mouth, it is dense with good acidity and more structure than the previous wine. The flavors are elegant, grapey purple, perhaps a bit lighter but there is better balance overall. The acidity matches the medium to full weight, maintaining levity. In the end the wine is sappy with inky, cranberry red flavors. For the long-haul. ****(*) Now – 2048.

8 – 2016 Le Vieux DonjonChateauneuf du Pape – $ 60
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 14.5%. Pepper scented on the nose. It is dense, savory, and salty, certainly packing in the flavor. The fruit, though, is floral and finely delineated leading the way to a nearly lifted middle. With air the definite structure is revealed so best drunk after several more years.  A strong showing. ****(*) Now – 2038.


9 – 2016 Domaine de la Janasse, ChaupinChateauneuf du Pape – $75
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is 100% Grenache sourced from vines reaching up to 100+ years of age on sandy soils.  Alcohol 15%. Dense as well but silky with finely grained flavor and texture from the very fine, dry tannins. Red berries and firm minerals…actually very minerally, with a touch of heat in the end. Overall, hot and hard to drink, it never came round. *** 2023 – 2033.

NV Christophe Mignon, Pur Meunier, Champagne Brut Nature
Polaner Selection. This wine is 100% Petit Muenier.  Alcohol 12.5%. A scented nose of orchards and polished wood. A lovely nose. Finely textured bubbles followed by deep flavor of chalk and sour apple. The mousse and flavor mix very well. ***(*) Now – 2023.

Mature, affordable Syrah

September 20, 2018 Leave a comment

The 2012 Jean-Michel Gerin, La Champine, IGP Colline Rhodaniennes is a bit of a steal for maturing Rhone Syrah.  It comes across as drinking at its peak which means this gentle wine offers a bit of everything as soon as the cork is pulled.  You might grab a bottle or two so you can shake up your mid-week rotation.  Find it at MacArthur Beverages.

2012 Jean-Michel Gerin, La Champine, IGP Colline Rhodaniennes – $12
Imported by Espirit du Vin. This wine is 100% Syrah aged 12 months in used oak barrels. Alcohol 12.5%. Hints of maturity and wood box with a subtle undertone of fat. Of moderate body, there are firm cherry flavors, a little earthy, and fine tannic structure. At the beginning of a gentle, mature state. **(*) Now – 2020.

A pair of rosé for more warm weather

September 19, 2018 Leave a comment

With warm, sunny weather returning to the Washington, DC, area, here are two bottles of rosé you might consider.  The 2017 Reichstrat von Buhl, Spatburgunder Rose Trocken Pfalz will cater towards those who prefer dry rosé with a kick of acidity.  The profile is all about dried florals with a clean finish.  I find the 2017 Puech-Haut, Prestige Rosé , Languedoc-Roussillon more satisfying with its mixture of peach and florals. I like a bit of fruit in my rosé, which this bottle delivers, without leaving freshness behind.  You may find them at MacArthur Beverages.

2017 Reichstrat von Buhl, Spatburgunder Rose Trocken Pfalz – $18
Imported by Cellars International. Alcohol 12%. A medium-dark, dried rose and salmon color. Dried florals with dried red fruit persist in this acidity driven wine. There is some ethereal ripeness that pops up in the end but this is a dry wine throughout with a bit of tang. ** Now but will last.

2017 Puech-Haut, Prestige Rosé, Languedoc-Roussillon – $18
Imported by European Cellars. This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Cinsault.  Alcohol 13%. Fresh yet with floral weight. Flavors of peach mix with white, ripe fruit, and dry roses. This is all about the floral fruit and enjoyable as a result. *** Now.

Buy the case: 2017 Coupe Roses, Bastide, Minervois

September 18, 2018 Leave a comment

The 2017 Chateau Coupe Roses, Bastide, Minervois is a fine wine to include amongst your weekly rotation.  Like the previous vintage, the 2017 is a bright, honest wine. It is the type of wine we like to drink when we return home late after our daughter’s soccer practice.  Grab a case at MacArthur Beverages.

2017 Chateau Coupe Roses, Bastide, Minervois – $13
Imported by Vintage ’59 Imports. This wine is a blend of 48% Carignan, 46% Grenache, and 6% Syrah. Alcohol 13.5%. Carignan on the nose. In the mouth black fruit and pastilles are immediately evident as is the powdery texture. The flavors become brighter through the finish where tannins and juicy acidity is evident. This medium bodied wine becomes lifted with air, showing deep, red raspberry fruit and citrus over its structure. There is even a touch of blue fruit and fat.  It might open up over the winter. **(*) Now – 2023.

A pair of Montefalco Sagrantino

September 13, 2018 Leave a comment

I love the dark flavors and intensity of Montefalco Sagrantino.  They are not for the faint of heart when young but the substantial structure is a bit thrilling.  Of the two featured in this post the 2010 Colpetrone, Montefalco Sagrantino is the better balanced with a touch more depth.  The 2013 Fattoria Colsanto, Montefalco Sagrantino is certainly the more intense of the pair.  This wine is living on the edge such that it requires a few more years in the cellar.  Both are of good value but if you must pick one then grab the Colpetrone at MacArthur Beverages.

2010 Colpetrone, Montefalco Sagrantino – $21
Imported by Vias Imports.  Alcohol 14.5%. Some age to the color. Dark fruit but there is brightness from the acidity which is actually quite good. Fine grained, firm and bitter tannins exist throughout. This is a flavorful wine with strong structure best left to age for several more years. *** 2019 – 2030.

2013 Fattoria Colsanto, Montefalco Sagrantino – $18
Imported by Siema Wines.  Alcohol 15.5%.  Ripe dark fruit on the nose. In the mouth black and dark blue flavors get surpassed by some intense tannic structure.  It wraps up with minerals that have a hint of bitterness.  There is good flavor but the wine is young.  The good acidity supports the ultra fine and drying structure which requires a few years of age but could be tamed by a fatty steak.  A bit salty in the aftertaste.  **(*) 2020 – 2030.

Pinot Noir for every day

September 12, 2018 1 comment

Andy at MacArthur Beverages is stocking on on domestic wines priced under $40 per bottle for the holiday season.  The 2014 St. Innocent, Pinot Noir, Zenith Vineyard, Eola-Amity Hills is one of his new selections.  Priced at $27 it is firmly within my grasp and after tasting a bottle, it should be within yours.  This may be one of the entry-level selections but it delivers on flavor and ability to develop.  I recommend you grab enough bottles so you can try one now and the rest in a few years.  You might want to drink it each day of the week.

2014 St. Innocent, Pinot Noir, Zenith Vineyard, Eola-Amity Hills – $27
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir fermented in both stainless steel and oak then aged for 16 months in oak barrels.  Alcohol 13.9%.  The flavors of Pinot fruit are slightly dense, dark, and closely played.  The fruit-weight impressions is integrated with the acidity providing a satisfying experience through the finish where young tannins zip in at the end.  I found the wine oscillates with notes of black fruit and stones.  I am quite sure it will develop and open up over the next few years.  ***(*) Now – 2025.

Chardonnay for every day

September 12, 2018 Leave a comment

The 2016 Lioco, Chardonnay, Sonoma County is a wine to keep in your refrigerator for every day drinking.  This unoaked wine is crisp, textured, and finishes up with a modest yet satisfying ripe flavor.  I found it drinks well once opened so there is no issue if you only drink one glass per day.  You may find it at MacArthur Beverages.

2016 Lioco, Chardonnay, Sonoma County – $20
Alcohol 13.7%. A light, yellow-white color.  This is a vibrant wine of white and some yellow fruit.  It is textured with flavors of stones.  With air it remains crisp yet there are some lower-lying, ripe flavors towards the finish.  *** Now – 2021 but will last.