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The Wines

38-60% old Grenache from Grand Pierre (N-E, sandy), Bois de Boursan (S), 10-15% Syrah, 10-15% Mourvèdre, 17-24% red varieties - Muscardin, Vaccarèse, Terret Noir, Cinsault, Picpoul Noir, 3-4% white varieties – Clairette blanche, Clairette rose, Grenache blanc, Bourboulenc, Roussanne, Picardan from Les Roumiguières (N-E), Bois de la Vieille (S-W), av age 70 years, 2 day harvesting, all varieties fermented together, whole bunch fermentation, natural yeasts only, 3-5 week vinification in 80% concrete vat, 20% steel vat, pumping overs, cap punching, aged 60% 2-year and older 228-litre oak casks, 20% used 600-litre oak casks & 20% 30 hl large barrel 18-24 months, unfined, unfiltered, 12,000 b

2018 ()

(large 30 hl barrel, the blend) pale red; the nose has a really accurate, pinpoint red-fruited, spiced aroma, on strawberry, instant freshness, a vegetal touch from the stems. The “other” varieties have helped its poise – it’s really naked, unadorned, impressive, is wide and sustained, skips out, but carries true foundation. The palate continues well, links to the nose, is on white pepper, much spicing, a compact strawberry juice at its centre, a touch of violet on the aftertaste. This is cerebral, slinky Châteauneuf, for the Thinkers. It holds well, is firm on the finish, the length good. It has a good skeleton, and will age well. The palate is perfumed, and there is glow on the aftertaste. “it will concentrate over the next year while it’s raised,” J-C Vidal. From 2022-23. 2049-52 Oct 2019

2017 ()

plum red colour; sweet spices, raspberry fruit show on the nose that combines air and land, floats with a most inviting touch of sweetness, a coulis de luxe style, notes of dried herbs. The opening on the palate is dark, smoky, with bosky tones, cedar, pine, spiced red berries, cooked plums, real fruit diversity. It gathers weight, insistence in a very gradual manner, ends aromatically, florally, with a note of coffee. This has real good class, mineral notes, is complex. It’s a major 2017, also because its tannins are well embedded. 14.5°. From 2023. 2049-51 Oct 2019

2016 ()

red robe; the outer nose is stylish, on rose hip, rose petal with red berries, raspberry, some dusty trails, orange peel-citrus touches. The palate gives iron and velvet, the texture suave, the inside firm, resolute. This is perfumed, serious Châteauneuf-du-Pape with the house style of floral elegance beyond its strength. This has much to give, is turned in currently. It ends firmly, pepper and spice, solidly. You can eat this with a knife and fork. "It will be explosive in ten years or so,” J-C Vidal. Decant it. From 2024. 2053-55 Oct 2019 Previously Oct 2017 ****(*) (casks/barrel, bottling July 2018) full red robe. Meat stock, husky aroma with a thick ripeness in the fruit, a smoky, cordite angle as well, derived in part from the stems. It’s a buoyant, interesting start. The palate is dense but keeps going well, with abundance in its dark red fruited content, Grenache and friends here. There is a thorough spicing towards the finish, which is extremely long. This is grounded, hyper-natural Châteauneuf, takes me back to the 1960s vintages, 1966 and 1967 which were also unctuous and full. The non-Grenache grapes have added freshness and a pebbly texture to this STGT wine. It should stop the conversation around any dinner table. 14.5°. 12,000 b. €35. From 2021. 2042-45 Oct 2017

2015

pale red, ruby tinted robe. Incense-spice, violets, strawberry jam, wild strawberries show on the nose, with orange, Lapsang Souchong tea notes. The palate has definite direction, a firm run, the vintage 2015 in that respect, with tannins still very much on a tight, rather dry trail - it holds gummy content which serves as a solid couch for them. The texture is refined on the debut, with a gradual move into a more sealed feel late on. The shape is still upright. This is an intricate wine, demanding for now. “It’s all on elegance, rather like a Pommard, is very fine, silky. Our tannins from the vineyard are not aggressive,” J-C Vidal. 14.5°. From 2023. 2046-48 Oct 2019 Previously Oct 2016 **** (large 30 hl barrel) the robe has a red top with a bit of ruby. There is still some fermentation. The nose offers a floral, musky flower with spice and plums, clove, licorice – there’s a lot of spice. The palate is peppery, vibrant, runs directly, has kick, surges with energy – take that! It builds tar intensity in a big finish, is full on, unbridled there. It has good connection of parts, will be imposing. There is a swirl of flavour and influences here. “The 2015 colour is a bit more feeble than other years,” Jean-Claude Vidal. From 2020-21. 2039-41 Oct 2016

2014

(steel vat, bottling end Oct 2016) dark robe. Has a curvy, appealing nose, a glisten of black fruits, cooked Damson plums, light raspberry nudges, mulled stone fruits, loganberry. The palate right away is attractive, holds stylish, delicious fruit with finesse in the tannins and a little late burst of darkness. This holds lovely juice, is a serene Châteauneuf-du-Pape, STGT in the glass. It’s a real stroker and caresser for tired minds and bodies – this is good for you!. It has most appealing harmony. From mid-2018. 2032-34 Oct 2016

2013

(Jean-Claude has a 228-litre cask of 2013 still on the go, Nov 2019, a left over) this doesn’t therefore represent the blend issued on time, but is of interest. Ruby-red colour; wax, orange peel air in a bracing, salted aroma, with pumice stone, pipe tobacco and spice-coffee. The palate mixes floral-rose with citrus darts of flavour. Strawberry comes through from half way. It’s toning down its acidity, carries discreet strength inside, is all close-knit, and firm into a notably clear finale, red cherry notes there. This has character, is making its way. 2045-47 Oct 2019 Now for the widely released wine of 2013this was the first vintage made by Audrey, and contained only 38% Grenache, rather than 60%, due to the coulure, the remainder of the wine spread proportionately among all the other contributing varieties: shiny red robe with a dark plum heart. Has a sturdy, interesting nose that wells up from within, has airs of soaked raspberries, comes with beguiling qualities. It’s a nicely full, genuine start. The palate sets off on a firm debut, cooked Damson plum flavouring, with tenacity in the tannins, tannins with bite – they go long, extend it well. This is wholesome, good and grounded wine with silk in its texture. It is long, tarry for now, with a fresh perfume on the finish. Decanting advised. 14.5°. From 2019. 2036-39 Oct 2016

2012 ()

dark, shiny robe. There is intensity in the nose – this is a proper fullness, no hiding place. There is an aroma of thick coulis of black berry fruits, prune, sweet spice, licorice, soaked raspberries. This is sensuous wine, true, holds real good gras with a supple texture of gras until the tannins come along, adding dusty bite. This is fascinating, a Thinker’s wine; it’s rich, but keeps moving on a silken wheel of texture. The finish is thorough, butty, the length marked by a black olives flavour. It is very deep for a 2012. Decanting advised. 14.5°. From 2019. 2035-38 Oct 2016

2011

dark red, many legs down the glass. Has a good, rasping, downhome nose that leads on pine with a full Grenache spice-pepper charge and notes of lavender-licorice. Fasten your seat belts, Zap, Pow! The palate has a prominent resin coating with a gras richness of yesteryear, an oily essence inside it. It is dominated by its raising, the effect of that. Game is a must to accompany it, spiced dishes also. It could almost be a mix of Pinot and wild Italian country wine on the nose, Nebbiolo from an epoch 30 years ago. It is rather chaotic but has plenty of character, and ends with a running charge, its oily content travelling quite far. It rounds out on the finish as it breathes, shows pine and the sap of trees. A gras richness-accentuated wine. Go on, take the plunge! 14.5°. 2031-33  Nov 2013

2010

(casks) rather full plum red colour; Has a smoky, baked air with a thorough raisin heart and an implied sweet ripeness, drifts of sweet spice and a yeasty touch. The palate bears grounded Grenache fruit with dusty, but ripe, tannins around it; it develops a spiced, tight knot of flavour on the finish. Natural, traditional Châteauneuf with a light note of oaking, an earthy influence. Christmas spices feature on the finish. It is a shade dry on the aftertaste. A wine of character. From 2014. 2036-39 Dec 2011

2009

(casks) mottled, matt, quite dark red; smoky, high octane nose – raisin, cocoa, a bit vegetal – it is raw for now, oak in evidence, too. The palate black fruit is crisp, oaked – a wine that needs to fuse over the next three years or so. Some gras richness shows through on the second half – this can get it together. The length is correct, there are sparkles of interesting black fruit here. From mid-2013. 2028-31 Oct 2010

2006 ()

(casks) steady, full red; its red fruits have a floating, nicely free air, and raisin from ripe cropping, and a little high tone – this is promising. There is genuine Grenache on the attack; there are “dark” areas, maybe from the large old cask raising, and a thorough carry-through. It mixes tannins and red plum fruit – this is traditional Châteauneuf, with heart. It is not a big year, but is agreeably drinkable even now, but it will be rounded from late 2009. I like its late palate punch, where there are pebbly notes. 2027-29 Nov 2008

2005 ()

2 bottles tasted, 1st bottle slighty corked. 2nd bottle: full red; reductive nose, there is mint and resin in the air, a nice curve of black fruit, a rolling aroma of sympa black jam. The palate shows good intent – its fruit is thorough, with sides of tannin that fence it in for now. There is the sense of a hand made wine, thanks to its forthright delivery. The fruit ripples along before the tannins enter and later on there are herbal notes and “comme il faut”, correct garrigue touches, the dusty plateau under the summer heat. It's a wee bit dry late in the day; but has good energy. 2028-31 Nov 2008

2004 ()

½ bottle: orange-tinted robe. Spice, leather, some animal tones show on the nose, which has a solid foundation, coffee beans on the outside. It has the roundness of the vintage. The palate gives sweet, sustained, spiced gras, with tannins driving in some orange marmalade in style. This is traditional, authentic, with a flavour of dried plums, dates, figs, compares with Barolo, fig jam on the close. It is sturdy, especially so given it is from a quiet vintage. It’s also fresh for a ½ bottle of 2004. Decant it. 2028-30 if in a 75 cl bottle. Oct 2016

2001

1st bottle corked, musty; 2nd bottle: mature red robe, some tiling in it. The nose is a Quixotic mix of dung heap and flowers, with stewed plum fruit within, plus a tang of high tone. After three hours: the nose is clearer, the red fruits now foremost. The palate has a scented debut, with supple plum fruit, its heart is good and bears typical Grenache red fruits that are gummy in texture. It closes on toffee and tannin, sizzled bacon and dates. There is genuine heart in this – it is rich and varied as it goes along, a true traditional wine. The combination of tannin and old oak raising means it needs drinking with hearty foods such as beef casseroles. 14°. 2025-28 Nov 2008

1998 ()

nicely complete ruby robe, plus red at its core. The bouquet has life and inherent muscle – a real good couch of promise and southern provisions. Red fruit Grenache leads it, with floral airs floating in attendance. It is also downhome, with leather and meat, earthy, solid notes. There are rustic tendencies on the palate that have been suggested by the nose, heat and virile matter – the fruit in the older, traditional manner. Thus there is red fruit with leather, spice elements, cardoman after them. It drinks with vigour now, and needs robust foods. The oak raising leaves a rather dry tone at the end. 2022-25 Nov 2008

1997 ()

(cask) this is still in cask! Has a ruby, evolved robe. There’s a marked note of sun in the nose, richness in it – I would have got the year wrong on this! It’s striking, flamboyant, gives red spiced berries. The palate holds plum fruits, cosy gras that I’m sure has gained over time. This has noble sève [sap] at its centre, thick juice, and it lasts extremely well, is multi-spiced on the close. This is most certainly the best 1997 I’ve known: the Mediterranean meets Châteauneuf-du-Pape here – it’s a whizzo do. Another 24 years? Oct 2019 Previously Oct 2016 ****(*) (used 228-litre oak cask) ruby red. Has a solar, bright nose, intense cooked plum fruit to the fore. This is fat, holds lovely, sultry gras, links really well between nose and palate. The texture is suave, and this comes with both perfume and elegance, is a real treat. I thought it was a 1990 when served blind. 2029-31 Oct 2016 Previously Sept 1998 **(*) medium depth red, some matt in the tone; aromatic, floral, almost rose petals along with pepper and a friendly sappy fruit air. The palate is rather fleshy, fat, plump aspects to it – it is all quite straightforward. The final tannins are firmer than expected. It is honestly made, but the length is fair, not great. From 2000. 2019-21 Sept 1998

1996 ()

dark, quite bright robe; the nose is profound, comes with potential, has a quite warm, mint, laurel, not too sweet air. The palate is well made, has integrity – it is full, not very “big”, but is thorough. It can develop and broaden, especially on the finish, which is a bit dry now. The flavour resembles plum jam, has tannins present. Will show well around 2002 onwards. 2020-23 Oct 1998

1989

Jean-Claude opened this, his first vintage, for me, three days after his 80th birthday. 1989 was a vintage of hot weather and strong tannins, the 1990 that followed a more sunny, fatter year, the tannins more dense. In their early days, I preferred 1989 to 1990, the latter taking the louder plaudits from the USA contingent. The robe is ruby-orange, has good density. Truffle, coffee feature on the nose, where the main impression is its depth, oxtail, citrus fruits – it’s a wall of bouquet. Off we go on the palate, which offers mixed prompts, complexity, cooked plum, a little prune, coffee, orange peel – citrus, again. This is great; it’s amazing for its age, ends clearly, well struck. There are threads of iron on the close, a form of minerality. It holds delicate details within its confirmed content, body. What a treat. The second glass: Pinot associations, and it’s gaining fat as it airs, is very floral, too. “There’s a little bit of caramel, with coffee, on the palate,” J-C Vidal. 14°. Jean-Claude made this while running his two architect offices, in Toulouse and Tours, which he continued to do until 2005. 14°. 2036-38 Oct 2019 Previously * tender ruby robe; expansive, spreading bouquet – it is floral, with sweet black raisin, a little Pinot farmyard, an early on has a striking, room-filling appeal – BUT there is Brett in the air, and that cannot be dismissed. The palate dries with air, recedes and curls up after a red fruit start, a plum tart taste delivered with toffee, ripe notes. I can only suggest it be opened and drunk. Can live until 2018. Hard to rate, is very much a matter of taste, and some will not be bothered by the Brett display. But the air hurts it, so gather round the bottle, and boom boom.