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The Wines

70% Grenache (1900s-1980s), 15-16% mid-1970s Mourvèdre, 8% 1990-2000 Syrah, 4% old Cinsault, some Clairette, Muscardin, Vaccarèse from galet stone covered soils on Palestor (N), 80-90% destemmed, 20-30 day vinification in concrete vats, some vat-emptying and cap punching, raised 85-100% concrete vat, 0-15% oak (new for Syrah, 2-10 years for Grenache, other varieties) 8-10 months (before early 2010s was 18-20 months), unfined, unfiltered, 20-25,000 b

2017 ()

(vat/casks) medium depth red robe; blackberry fruit with a note of spirit slightly on the outside on the nose. There are cool tones, a sense of beef stock. The palate is loosely assembled, various elements that haven’t yet fused. There is a thread of mixed berry fruit, but the balance is questionable, the degree noticeable given the relative sketchiness of the richness. There is some late spicing. Not a wine with a big horizon. Decanting advised. 14.5°. 20,600 b. From 2021. 2035-36 Oct 2018

2016 ()

(vat/casks, bottling Nov 2018) dark red colour. Cooked figs with a prune aroma run on top of the bouquet, with a dusty trail, garrigue underlay, a little raspberry fruit spark. The palate is coated, broad, comes in waves of aromatic, rather floral black fruit essence. This has lovely length, the finish taking on some saltiness, a flash of detail there. This is authentic, well grounded, nourishing Châteauneuf. 14.5°. 21,700 b. 70% Gren, 16% Mourv, 8% Syr, 4% Cins, 2% Clair. €39. From 2020. 2040-42 Oct 2017

2015

plum red colour; the nose sits between its first and second stage, is smoky, obscure, bosky, with cooked plum airs. The fruit has good pinpoint centrally. There are mixed herbs, meatiness also in the picture. The palate is channelled, direct, with col cut, is typical of 2015, has a good stream of red fruit, with some rockiness in the tannins. It ends on mixed garrigue notes. This has a good frame, can fill out further. The close is clear. 14.5°. 2036-38 Feb 2019 Previously Sept 2016 ***(*) dark red. The nose is broad, reflects beef stock, oxtail and their depth. It suggests a robust wine ahead, has a hint of black stone fruit for now. The palate provides savoury, plump content with a late intensity in the fruit, based on some warm lands strength. This is grounded, rather forceful wine that is wide and insistent. 14.5°. From 2019-20. 2037-39 Sept 2016

2013 ()

medium depth red robe; the raspberry fruit aroma is mild, softening, with hickory smoke, cigarette ash in the air. The palate bears Grenache plums with a discreetly sturdy centre. This has a very much a concentrated heart. It ends on herbs, dusty notes. It’s tenacious in style, needs to amplify the close, is not for passing trade given its rigour. It’s fresh, can evolve. 14.5°. From 2021. 2036-38 Feb 2019 Previously Oct 2014 ***(*) (vat/casks) medium+ depth of red robe. The nose is fragrant, gives red berry,  raspberry and cherry nuances. There is the same lifted aromatic expression on the palate. This is flattering in style, holds lots of zesty fruit. Its firm, tannic finish presages well for the future. Allow a little time for the wine to knit. 14.5°. From 2017. 2025-27  JL Oct 2014

2012

has a plum colour with a clear top. Menthol is in tune on the nose, gives 2012 with its open features, a pile of spice in its plum. There are light floral, saline notes – it’s a good start. The palate comes with tasty, softening red fruit content, is expressive, restrained at the same time, fine juice flow within. It ends on floral-rose, plum fruits. This carries the charm of the 2012 vintage. 14.5°. 2034-36 Feb 2019 Previously Nov 2013 ** bottled July 2013, early in the calendar, and 10 months earlier than in the past; rather dark red; cooked/brewed berry fruit air, mixes damson plum and date, wee spicing, is sweet and a bit clinical. The palate has a sturdy heart, its fruit veering towards liqueur, sub potency. Its swirl of tannin isn’t yet integrated, and it ends on the back foot. There is a funny point of acidity on the attack, and it dries rapidly, even though there are some floral notes as it ends. Confused situation. I tasted this at two moments apart, trying to find the best of its virtues. From 2016, try especially around 2018. Not that stable. 15°. €36, 22,000 b. 2022-24  Nov 2013

2011

(vat) quite pale red; baked bread, strawberry aroma with damp leaves, hound dog notions, grunty. There is an early jab of acidity; this is raw, has a lactic, re-fermentation aspect. The fruit is pure, the wine can be stylish, but this isn’ t a good vat sample, is unstable, not all together a surprise given the bio policy. 15°. Can be 3 stars, or so. 2024-25  Dec 2012

2009

(vat/oak) dark robe; the bouquet wells up, has a rather soupy, beef stock air – it is not easy to define for now, offers some floral scenting and a note of damp woods. There is also a floral angle on the palate, which has good heart - has a ball of black fruit, suggesting the Grenache has friends here (tasted blind). Richness and smokiness combine at the end, which is tasty, full and fine. Good potential, local qualities, STGT wine. It is full, and its prolonged finish is well done. A good Tradition level wine. From 2013. €27. 2029-32 Oct 2010

2007 ()

red plum robe, some spritzy indications; sweet and broad bouquet, but more shapely than heavy – it reflects warm, mulled red fruits – it is young and consistent. Air brings a more herbal side. The palate has a pliant, supple start – this texture continues all through. The fruit is sweet in nature, resembling red jelly – crabapple or redcurrant. The shape is round and open – it is a sunny wine that expresses finesse more than power. The trouble is, I get the definite sense that it is fragile, and on Day 2 it has started to withdraw, curl and lose depth. Just after opening the raspberry fruit lasts well on the finish, but unless this is stored in stable, cool conditions, it risks being edgy. As a low SO2 wine, and knowing its fermentation challenges, I would not recommend this, unless it is an odd bottle to try, rather than a case. Stylistically, it resembles a Domaine de Gramenon Côtes du Rhône wine (no insult at all) – and this raises the question whether such vins naturels actually reflect terroir, or more they reflect grape variety. Agreeable, but not a fresh wine. SEK339 (£30) in the System Bolaget Wine stores in Sweden. 15°. To 2017, say. Sept 2010. It was still fermenting through its sugars in March 2009, so I could not taste it then. 80% destemmed.

2006 ()

full red with some evolution in it. The bouquet is grouped together – red cherry fruit of depth at the front, herbs at the back for now – it is still enclosed and not parading its true range as yet. The palate starts with a pretty strike of fruit, carrying the vintage freshness, and a cool nature. It runs along well, with late grain and tannin. It is clear-cut, a wine of some sinew that needs leaving until late 2010. There is a nice late fruit display, then herbs on the aftertaste. 2026-29 March 2009 80% destemmed. Previously Nov 2007 *** (assemblage example) full red, some black in the robe; has a ripe raspberry aroma, is quite wide and there is a little animal underlay from the ripeness, and some nutty hints from the oak. Also has a ripe red fruits nature on the palate, is already tasty and drinkable, a wine of a rounded shape. Not a lot of tannin evident. An early in the day crowd pleaser. Savoury and broad early in its life, with notably clear fruit. From 2009. 2025-27 Nov 2007

2005 ()

the nose is trimmed with floral airs, and is earthy and even a bit vegetal: it is not formed and in open declaration yet. Open after two hours, it becomes more tarry, and burnt on the nose. This vintage is more aggressive and punchy than in style in the past here. Has a black berry, loganberry attack. It is tightly wrapped, with some late white pepper here. More rustic than usual. Almost a wine to drink solo, with some acrid notes in it that may or may not settle down with ageing. 2019-21 Dec 2007, Copenhagen 90% destemmed. Previously Nov 2006 ***(*) dark robe, with a purple top; knit, smoky black fruit with a light herbal covering and a little meatiness. By 2010-11 expect damp soil, sous-bois, underwoods. Gracious fruit on attack, shows supple, simmered black jam taste and persists in a lightly sweet way. The harmony is secure here, there is an oily texture with warmth. The winemaking has been quite full-on, I suspect. Esp late 2008 on. 2018-21 Nov 2006

2004 No Rating

yeasty, black fruits aroma with a sweaty backdrop; sappy black fruit and olive mix on palate. Dries early, has unconvincing fruit, lacks freshness. London, Oct 2006 – can't be judged on this bottle.

2001 ()

mild red robe, with ruby appearing. Has a steady, slightly spiced aroma that projects an air of comfortable harmony – it is stylish, rather closed and will come out as it airs now – there is a pretty dash of red fruit and a slight game note. The palate is attractive, the fruit clear – the Grenache-led fruit runs handsomely, and is still young, its taste of plums. Tobacco and prune nuances enter later, and the finish is good, steady and as clear as anything. 2022-25 Nov 2008 Previously Feb 2007 **** plum colour with a light top rim. Aroma shows hints of black jam, but has been open three hours, so expect more alert fruit and variety after opening. Well woven palate, there is a lovely elegance here, with wide late appeal and persistence. Moving into secondary phase complexity. Well-mannered Châteauneuf, apart from the fat, obviously fleshy types. The fruit is clear all through the palate, and this is a wine that always goes down well in tastings. Eastbourne, February 2007 Previously October 2005, Copenhagen **** some evolution on the robe; soft appeal, the floating charm of Châteauneuf on the bouquet - just moving past its first youth towards secondary, more stone fruit, mature aromas. Soft and very elegant palate, persistent with well-founded fruit - raspberry, wild hedge fruit in style. Clear finish, is long and live wine, shows its year well. Classy structure. Good, decisive texture that is very clear. 2023-26 Previously March 2005, London **** pretty red robe. Mixed bouquet, earthy undertones, leathery traces, respects the year - ie not opulent, also touch peppered. Refined start to palate, grows as it goes, a little dumb. Core is good and understated. Red fruits shine through. The texture is oily, and the wine lasts discreetly and well. Esp 2008 on. 2023-26 March 2005, London

2000

brambleberry fruit aroma, very pure and interesting freshness. Charming, rounded palate, Syrah plays a good role. Lovely sensuality in the wine, very noble. Still young, on its first phase. The fruit is very classy, wine has really lovely length. STGT wine. In great form now. 2020-23 Tain, March 2005

1999 ()

red heart, ruby top to robe – the colour more full than the 1998. The bouquet is sealed up, has red fruit at its heart, has toffee, light date aromas – this has always been stylish. The palate fruit is bright, and supported by a good spine of life, of well-measured direction. The fruit around it is clear and still young, and not yet totally at its second stage. Has an elegant composition, fine length. Very good for the vintage. The 2001 is more hearty than this. 2022-25  Nov 2008  Previously Nov 2006 **** still a bonny red, good and clear. Red fruits, vanilla and game are coming through on the varied bouquet, baked stones as well. The palate rocks along well, the fruit clear and live. It stops a little. It is still rather primary, as in not showing extra touches beyond the clean red fruit. The nose is moving faster than the palate, which is full of gourmandise. A good choice of blending, the Syrah (8%) and the Mourvèdre (16%) both slotting in well and aiding the fruit expression. 70% Gren, 16% Mourv, 8% Syr, 4% Cins, 2% Clairette. 2022-24  Nov 2006

1998 No Rating

alas, a corked bottle, but has been ****(*) in its time – what I can pick up now is: ruby rim above a gentle red; light but distracting cork on the nose. The palate still has sinew, and a ripple of flavour though it – prune, light raisin, chocolate in the taste. There was a tiny crop, only about 25 hl made this year owing to a lot of problems from coulure (poor fruit set at flowering) onwards through the year. Nov 2008, Châteauneuf. 30% destemmed this year, less than usual. Previously Feb 2000 ****(*) (the vat side, 92%) quite dark, black cherry robe; resin, dark fruits aroma that suggest cedar and spice to come – it is upright for now, but will unbend over time. The palate is full and dense; has a cherry, black fruits flavour and is still very much turned in on itself. There are obvious tannins. This will be a powerful wine, is backward for now. I am told it lacks 15 hl or 8% that was cask aged, to add to the vat content here. 2020-23 Feb 2000

1997 ()

(vat, pre-assemblage) quite pretty robe, fair depth, some purple; drier oak, herb airs on the nose, has some intensity. The palate starts nicely, runs along black fruit lines. Better depth than most 1997s I have tasted so far, is well sustained. Quite elegant. The first time 12 hl of the Grenache went in casks. 40% destemmed. 2015-18 Oct 1998

1996

bouquet reflects the vintage - pepper, mint, wax, varnish with some acidity apparent. Touch fiery in the old-fashioned way. Power wine on palate, has a lovely warmth, some grip on finish. But stops a little and isn't in the best shape for a long life. I have had better bottles of this. 2010 Copenhagen, May 2006 Previously **** pretty red centre, dark surround; the nose is open – it runs out right now – red fruits, good grain in them, some oil, mint, glycerine – still at a primary aroma stage. Good depth on the palate – it is more supple, more obviously rich than the previous vintages. The length is good, has a lot of end chew, is a funky wine that persists well. More Burgundian than the 1995; I reckon it will go quiet, revert around 2003. 40% destemmed this year. Bottled May 1998. 2020-22 Oct 1998

1995

very thorough, sustained ark robe; some manure on the nose, animal hints, oil, iron, black earth. Very full, dense palate, has a very tight structure. The flavours are very clean, decisive. Full and stylish, with a nice linger of juicy fruit on the end. A few OK, shade dry tannins that need to blend in and soften. Has undoubted quality, is classy and stylish. This year use of 1-2-3 year 228-litre oak casks for Syrah. 2021-23 Oct 1998 40% destemmed this year

1994

decent red, some top advance; grainy aroma on the top nose – oily, pine-resin, spice – is rather narrow in shape. Three-quarter weight palate, that builds to a chewy finish. It lacks a little core at its heart, but holds quiet fruit – comes with a certain delicacy. The fruit style is dry, restrained. Likely to go in and out of itself as it ages. 2015-17 Oct 1998 30% destemmed, 6% Syr versus usual 4%

1993 ()

“Les Vieilles Vignes” on label: fairly dark colour; the nose is becoming gamey, fungal – is quite thorough. Air liberates more floral perfumes, tender ones. There is a fair amount of true extract on the palate, comes with intensity, is measured. Tannins in circulation on the end. The flavours mix red, dark fruits, a long way from today's black jam extract wines. Has a nice, pebbly finish. Good grain in this. Like many of the wines of the northern part of Châteauneuf, it is not a gulp back wine – requires a little thought and attention as you drink it. Will show very well around 2002. 2014-16 Oct 1998. 75% G, 15% M, 4% Syr, 4% Cinsault this year. Concrete vat whole bunch fermentation, raising 18 months, unfined, unfiltered