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The Wines

50-70% Grenache (av age 50-60 yrs), 20-25% Syrah (early 1980s), 5-15% Cinsault (1950s-1960s), 5-10% Mourvèdre (1980s), destemmed, 25-30 day vinification, part vat emptying/refilling, some pumping overs near the end, aged 70% steel & concrete vat (always Grenache), 30% new & 1-year 228-litre & 600-litre oak casks, large barrel 18 months (up from 12 months in early 2010s), fined, filtered, 80-100,000 b

2016

(vat/casks/barrel) very dark colour, red-purple with black. The bouquet is packed with black berry fruits, all very ripe, and piled high. There is a date, tobacco and exotic spice note as well. It’s based on sweet fruits. The palate holds smoothly textured, fleshy matter, shows oak tar and smoke after the mid-point. The base is thorough, rather silken, so it needs its oak to fuse as its main next challenge. It’s a big, plentiful wine, just about off the sipping-only range. From 2020-21. 2035-38 Oct 2017

2014

(vat/casks/barrel) bright, quite full red. The nose is reserved, with a red meat depth, menthol, oak and a closed suggestion of red fruit. The palate is tightly knit, with a fresh drive. The dark berry fruit engages well with its live tannins, and it lengthens well. It captures the vintage well, but for now shows oak on the second half of the palate. It isn’t quite an ensemble. 14.5°. 70% Gren, 20% Syr, 5% Mourv, 5% Cins. 80,000 b. Release in 2017. €20. From 2018. 2026-27  Oct 2015

2012 ()

shiny red-magenta robe. Has a finely fruited nose, blackberry and cassis with a trail of herbs, a hint of rose-hip. The palate offers immediate, accessible red fruit with toffee-oak and a near plush texture, all smooth. This is a touch escapist, workmanlike, but is just starting out. 13.5°. From 2018. 2029-31  Nov 2015

2011 ()

dark red robe, central shine, a light rim. The first nose is attractively scented, led by bacon, some tar depth and smoked airs with peppery life in its plum fruit and raspberry fruit. The palate is faithful to Châteauneuf-du-Pape: it bears baked plum fruit, cinnamon and clove in the flavour. There is a safe heart of Grenache red fruit, but it could be a little fresher as it ends. A yeoman more than a gentleman, but it is true. Agreeable, not complicated, drink with stews and game. 14.5°. The only Solitude Châteauneuf red this year – no other cuvées made. From mid-2015. 2023-24  Nov 2013 Previously Dec 2012 **** (casks) decent depth of red in the robe. Smoke-tobacco, cooked red berry aroma, red cherry liqueur. The palate is sealed-up, not expressive. Low level red cherry fruit emerges with a surround of ash-like tannin. Stubborn, slow evolution wine that has a good Grenache centre, and the structure to develop and vary. The fruit is fresh at the end, and the wine persists. From 2015. 14.5°. 2026-28  Dec 2012

2009

steady red robe; the nose is unclear, slightly reductive. There are baked airs, a little sweatiness. The palate also leans towards “high” fruit, has plenty of fat, supple tannins, a fleshy style. All up front, this wine. Decant to improve the nose. Has a bunched, grainy finish. 14.5°. 2021-23 Sept 2011

2008

quite a dark red, but not all through darkness. Pretty wide, young nose – has a smoky note, like bacon rolls. Rather shapely and accessible fruit on the palate, has a scented quality about it, and rose-hip later moments. It drinks serenely, has gras richness and a pliant texture. It grips at the end, takes on mild tar and chocolate tannins. Well assembled, even if not very profound. An agreeable, sound 2008. It will be more varied from late 2011, but is OK now. Decent CHR wine, w.o.w. 14°. 2018-20 Oct 2010

2007

robe is dark all through. Spice-perfume mix on the nose – it is interesting, is deep, grounded, persistent, has a sprinkle of pepper. The palate is rich, with the vintage baked notes after half way- these notes come along rather fast. It is starting to tighten, close down the shop. Good, quite powerful length. It is wide late on, plenty, gutsy but orderly wine. Has a solid finale, a tangy aftertaste. From mid-2012. 15°. 2022-24 Oct 2010

2006 ()

dark red, some black. Still primary, post-fermentation aroma of black fruit, a little mint crème across it, also violet – it is a bit narrow, but can develop in 3 to 4 years. The palate is taut, wired, infused with tannins from half way. It is an enclosed, tense wine for now, and is not yet settled. Try again in late 2010 or 2011. 2018-19 Nov 2008

2005

quite a dark red; the bouquet continues steadily, led by black fruits mingled with licorice and some herbs. The palate starts off with red fruit that has some clear, quite smooth appeal. This flows quietly and well, and ends roundly. Has a herbal aftertaste. From 2009. 2021-23 Jan 2008, London Previously Oct 2007 ***(*) full, dark red. Mulled fruits and a few herbs float on the bouquet, with some nice sweetness in it. There is plenty of appeal in the wine`s rich black fruit-herb nature – is rounded, and also has a well-cut aftertaste. A savoury wine, with tannin to pep it up and give it frame. Good in its first youth, a wine of balance. 2019-22 Oct 2007

2004 ()

dark tone to robe; Meaty, tight black fruit aroma, is a bit international and shows non-Grenache influences. Direct burst of smoky, black fruit on palate, clean and well cut. Good inner content. The tannins are quite pushy and need leaving till 2009. Good scope for the future. Aftertaste is a little burnt right now. 2018-20 Oct 2006

2001 ()

fairly deep red; warm, stylish nose led by raspberry fruit, has potential. Pretty Grenache cooked fruits here, with tar and a touch of burn, but its tannins are well integrated. Ends on a slightly fungal note, but is a correct, persistent wine that tightens on the finish, after showing good core matter. From 2006. 2017-18 Nov 2003

1999

Syrah: dark purple; attractive berried fruit aroma. Vigorous palate, tight, solid, with decent length and grip. Grenache and various: nice fat nose, harmony in it. Good depth on palate – the Grenache leads here, shows charm and depth. Rich, good wine. Together they offer promise. 12 years or so. Feb 2000

1998

still full robe, dark core. The bouquet is dark, led by prune and date aromas, deep-seated leather in it, has a suave oiliness, intense black raisin. Still well-knit. Good, brewed fruit on the palate, black berries with a fresh note and floral touches. Very good, in good shape, younger than many 1998s. Chocolate, Indian tea grain aftertaste. Has an all on texture, with a burgeoning complexity and variety as it gradually evolves, a wine in no hurry. A leading 1998 Châteauneuf. Day 3: herbal, tangy end with bite, a clear signature. 13.5°. 2024-26 Aug 2011 Previously Nov 2008 **** red is still well present, as if non-Grenache varieties are boosting it (tasted blind). The outer bouquet is cautious, but there is intrinsic depth – it summons tea, caramel, crème brûlée, brown sugar, raisin, violet, while there is a lurking meatiness, damp woods. The palate delivers red fruits that flow and bustle along. Some mineral is entering it, via a coffee tilt, but it has plenty of ways to go. It is slightly atypical, with its finale based on tar-charcoal rather than the more classic herbs. Its tannins are still live and strutting towards the finish. It is a shiny wine with a lot of depth, drinks OK now. Ni hurry, can live well. 2023-25 Nov 2008 Previously March 1998 ***(*) pretty, quite mature red robe. Has a smoky, bacon, herbal nose with angle to it – a sort of high tone, medicinal air, with raisin, too: indicates it is teetering on the brink between the end of its youth and its debut of early middle age. Also has a mineral air – clear and glinty. The palate shows red fruit with some peppery kick in it, and herb-flecked finale. Holds a very Grenache heart, with its plum fruit prominent, and is just wandering into a little gaminess. There is nice life in this, and goes bang on with a beef daube made from rump steak. Nice and clear on the finish. 13.5°. 2023-26 March 2008 Previously April 2006 ****(*) brewed matt colour, deeply set red that is still full to the top. Has a lovely, concentrated blackberry aroma with mint airs – is rather lush and very appealing, shows cooked bacon and a berried persistence. The palate has a stone fruit flavour, is very round and warm, and its black fruit, oily flavour continues seamlessly. Now at a very generous stage, very spherical. Good length and great harmony here. 2019-21 April 2006, Sussex

1997

mostly red, not that deep; light aroma, gentle blackcurrant air. The palate is also light, has a quite simple flavour. Fruit is just present in it, lacks firmness of flavour and core. Shows a touch of final tannin. Bottled Oct 1998 – early - tells its story. I would come back to a lot of these 1997s in the final third of their lives, when there may be a little more variety and stimulus. “We don`t expect this to last 10 years,” Michel Lançon. 2005-07. Gives the impression that it is very junior to the expensive Prestige wines. Feb 2000

1962

more red than the 1954 or the 1930s Solitude. Made mainly from Grenache. The robe is ruby overall. Has a gentle, garden fruits aroma, shows a little heat, also some truffle, a hint of game, quince jam, slight pepper – it is still crisp in parts, therefore. I like this palate – it offers discreet, elegant fruit, attractive plum, damson fruit – a very true wine, even if not that big. There is a degree of final grip, a fine tannic finish. Elegant, good wine that can run until 2008-2011. Pierre Lançon had started using maceration carbonique as early as 1954. “By 1962, he had probably mastered it,” Jean Lançon. This actually has greater finesse than most old Châteauneufs of that date, which are more robust, more punchy. Apologies, Pierre, if I decried the mac carb at the time! Pierre kept using maceration carbonique until 1985. This was one of the first old Châteauneuf-du-Papes that I bought from Cave Les Reflets when starting out writing my first book, along with Les cailloux 1962, 1964, 1966 etc. It was the first Solitude to be bottled at Les Reflets. Feb 2000

1954

lighter than the 1930s red Solitude – orange with pockets of ruby. Has a damp aroma – some lightly ground coffee, a hint of quince, oranges, is nicely delicate. Quiet generosity stems from the palate – it is still in the game. The finish is clean, and its “fruit” – what remains – is veering towards quince jelly. The length is fair – it dries a bit. Gains richness with some air. “This is pretty much pure Grenache – the other varieties came later,” Michel Lançon. Which of course may explain the perceived need to cool the ardour of the Grenache, hence use maceration carbonique. Feb 2000

1935? No Rating

a 70 cl bottle with the Papal Arms, and a wax top.” Given it is in a 70 cl bottle, it could be 1935 – it is certainly pre World War II, in the 1930s” Jean Lançon. Real dark amontillado, orange top to the robe; There is a lot of warmth on the nose, an air chunky Oxford orange marmalade, also butterscotch. Soupy, syrupy richness at first on the palate, but it dries markedly on the second half of the palate. Has a spirity fat, but is basically oxidised. Brunt sugar, stewed jam flavours. Gets a little richer with air, its last flicker. Would probably remain like this for a few more years. Feb 2000