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The Wines

65-90% Grenache (1950s and older), 5-30% Syrah, 0-5% Mourvèdre, 0-2% Counoise, 1% various, destemmed, 3-4 week vinification of separate varieties in 50% steel vat, 50% concrete vat, pumping overs, part emptying/refilling of vats, aged 70% large barrel (all large barrel raised 12 months until 2008) 20% steel vat, 10% 2-6 year 228-litre oak casks 15 months, then vat 2-3 months, unfined, lightly filtered, 36-70,000 b

2018

(large barrel/vat/casks) shiny dark red; the bouquet has a trim aroma of cassis fruit, is orderly, restrained, almost takes a Burgundian route. The palate is polished, bears suave, gliding content, a mix of mulberry fruit with tayberry, small shafts of freshness, menthol, coming along towards the finish. This is easy styled Châteauneuf that the diehards would find tame, neophytes would appreciate. 15°. 40,000 b. 65% Gren. 30% Syr, 5% Mourv. From 2021. 2039-41 Oct 2019

2017 ()

(large barrel/casks/vat) very dark red robe, black centre. Has an inky, deep nose, with beefy, prune airs, thick jam fruit, sun radiance; it’s pretty weighty. The palate carries a typical Châteauneuf smooth texture, is a dense ball of mixed berry fruit, goes wide and long in its insistence. This is sipping wine, presents an immobile front for now. There are garrigue, mixed herbs touches late on. 15.5°. 36,400 b. 80% Gren, 20% Syr. From mid-2021. 2040-42 Oct 2018

2016

(vat/barrel) shiny dark red robe. The nose has a shaft of intensity, a sweetly curved aroma of blackberry fruit, with deeper airs of roast beef, more fundamental forces. It shows the sunny depth of the vintage. The palate is immediately tasty, bears jellied style red fruit with snug-fit tannins well woven within, allowing it to end roundly on an extended finish. Its pretty fruit is a winning card. As ever from this domaine, it’s a genuine Châteauneuf. 15.5°. 80% Gren, 20% Syr. From mid-2019. 2036-39 Oct 2017

2015 ()

(cask/barrel) complete, dark red robe. A note of reduction hovers over a bountiful, still muted, nose. There’s a real sense of layered depth, ample black fruits. The palate sets off running with fluid content, a real good drive in its tannins. It hits the finish well, is broad and embracing, but also has droplets of finesse. The juice has style and lift. A front runner in the 2015 stakes. 15°. From 2019. 2034-37 Sept 2016

2014 ()

(cask/barrel) quite a dark red. The nose is moving towards offering a rounded aroma centred on raspberry fruit, just a mulled rather than fresh note to it. It holds up OK. The palate runs with a plum fruiting, a little local charge adding beef to it. The finish is full and expressive, involves some garrigue herbs. There is local imprint here, a wine with some thickness of the south. From 2018. 2030-31  Oct 2015

2013

(cask/barrel) medium red colour. Has a plummy, herbal nose, with perhaps a hint of kirsch. The palate is fleshy and broad, again with a plummy, kirsch nuance. A solid tannic frame provides a forceful nature. The robust finish needs to settle. 14.5°. From 2017. 2024-25 JL Oct 2014

2012

(cask/barrel) steady red colour. This has a neatly curvaceous nose of potential and intrigue. It gives an air of agreeable red cherry, has a sunny, young simplicity of appeal, suggests a scatter of garrigue across it. The palate is supple, open; a bonny display of red fruit, plum and berries here, meaning it is likeable, uncomplicated Châteauneuf that drinks well. Its juice is fine, while easy, silken tannins are well integrated, so it rolls as a smooth southern ball, its power within just in check. Good length, fresh finale. Not as deep as some 2012s, but very agreeable, charming wine. Good in the restaurant trade. From spring 2015. 2028-31. Nov 2013

2011 ()

(cask/barrel) quite a shiny red. Has a sweet date-fig, broad aroma that has an oily potential, ends on strawberry notes, and also involves cocoa, licorice: there is plenty of bouquet for the future. The palate’s texture is supple. This fills the palate well, develops its fruit, until a pebbly wall of tannin comes along, and the end reflects tobacco. Nice breadth and sustained flavours. Its tannins will be infused in three years – the integration of the finish is the key factor for the future. It holds up well, really delivers and can be tried from 2015. 15°. 2029-31  Dec 2012

2010

(cask/barrel) respectable red robe; there is a bonny roundness to the nose, a succulent sweetness in its redcurrant jelly air, a bit of licorice. The palate reflects the redcurrant of the nose – its heart is well-filled, and the fruit really lasts comfortably. However, there is no great horizon or aspiration here, the wine is a bit tame. Provides good, regular drinking, the length aided by its freshness and slipalong style. The length is OK, and there is a leaning towards iodine on the aftertaste. From late 2012. Fair price at €18 at the cellar. 2030-32 Dec 2011

2009

(cask/barrel) full red; has the air of a wine being raised – biscuity, raspberry airs, nice ripe Grenache, is very young, pure, has potential. Young, post-fermentation nature to the palate: it develops a good, juicy second half, lots of abundance. The fruit is great. It runs clearly and well to the line, shows fresh cut on the finish. There is the glow of baked stones on the end – the dusty dryness of 2009, but has been handled OK. Persists well. From 2013. 2029-31 Oct 2010

2008

(cask/barrel) the first year with less large barrel, more small cask use: red robe, some dark traces. The bouquet is more hidden and mysterious than many – blackberry jam, violet, garrigue herbs – has a good presence. Minted black fruit kicks off the palate, while there is a line of resin, high tone, tannin along it until more of a charcoal-influenced finish. The pebbly texture can absorb into its measured, persistent fruit that has plump moments. A little late heat is evident. From spring 2011. 2023-24. Dec 2009

2007

brewed aroma that isn't quite clear, is traditional, a shade rustic. Black fruit lead on palate – has a perfumed, prune flavour. A lot of wine here – across and along the palate. As it stands, a game of two halves. Decanting a necessity. 2024-26 April 2010 Previously Nov 2008 ***(*) (barrel) dark red with black traces; the aroma shows black fruit fused in with a snappy air such as charcoal – the fruit side resembles a dense collection of blackberries that are ripe and on the curve. The palate has a calm richness about it – there is an orderly flow with a gradual gain of depth and interest via some live, ripe tannins that pep it up. A well-shaped wine that will sing from late 2010. The length is secure. 2024-26 Nov 2008

2006 ()

(assemblage example) dark red, magenta traces in the robe; fully clad bouquet, with a sense of red fruit in it, red berries with some sweet spice in the overtone: presents a scaled picture across and down. Is a little mulled and liqueur-like. There is bounty in the palate, with plenty going on – red fruits, white pepper, spice and tannin that is a touch dry. Starts richly, but from half way is tight and restrictive. Bumps along the palate rather unevenly now. Pepper aftertaste. Pretty local in nature. Try from 2010. 2023-25 Nov 2007

2005 ()

pretty full robe; down home, fundamental bouquet with grass roots appeal, mingles red berries with a potent topping – in a very primary state now. Salted, nutted start to palate; there is a core of good, rich matter. Red fruits emerge towards the finish. Tight in on itself now, has a rich heart. Safe and sound wine, drink from 2009. 2026-28 Nov 2006

2004 ()

red colour; game, quite “high” aroma, with red berries and traces of flowers. I wonder if the ripeness was complete. Red fruits on the palate with some bone late on and tannins that intrude a bit. Not very full. More together by mid-2008, but is evolving quite early. Not a major year here. 2018-20 Oct 2007, London Previously (*) April 2007 2 bottles in London – both wrong. 1st bottle – stink bomb, reduction rampant on the bouquet. 2nd bottle – fruit gum aroma, with reduction. The fruit on the palate is oppressed, clumsy and indistinct – should be fresher. Lacks grip at the end. These days this sort of very rustic wine is not acceptable. April 2007 Previously Châteauneuf-du-Pape Oct 2006 *** attractive red cherry robe; solid, tight, meaty touches in the bouquet, a little oak also. Well assembled red fruits with a good power in them. The toasty finish is agreeable, laced with herbs. Good character in this – is a bit wild but good. 2016-19 Previously Feb 2006 (pre-bottle) *** bright, dark cherry robe; baked fruits, harmonious, floral aroma of latent generosity. Well-sustained fruit on palate, but feels a little pushed in the cellar. Good grip late on. Its acidity needs to settle and integrate. Plum, dates finale. Esp 2008 on. 2019-22 Feb 2006

2003 ()

bright, maturing dark red colour. Scale and power exist in the bouquet – marked out by mulled, notably ripe red fruits with some Asian spice. I wonder if there is some Brett here – the aroma is a bit flat and yeasty as the air gets at it. The palate holds an incipient power – this is a dog straining on the lead wine, one that takes ripeness to the limit. The result is a stretched effect as the alcohol never really absorbs. Fragile now – it is not settled on the finish, and there is a charge of heat and dryness there. Could it come back? You could wait until 2011, and, above all, hope. 15°. 2020-21 Previously Feb 2006 *** the bouquet declares, is open and already at a second stage, early in its life. Baked aromas and dust off the stones here. Sweet, juiced start to the palate, the red stone fruits have a mature nature, and go as far as red jam before a little pepper kicks in. Not a long-lived wine, but its vigour will hold it stable forsix to seven years. A little dry tannin on the finish reflects this strange vintage and the challenges faced. 2017-20 Feb 2006

2000 ()

red with dark ruby; has an advancing, gamey, fundamental nose with plum, sweet prune and herbs in it – there is a sweet curve in it, and it is agreeably typical. The palate commences with scented red fruits with interesting flower, maybe rose infusions and a beguiling sweetness. It is not especially deep, but holds good charm and shows an easy drinkability. It ends on a little grainy note, and has a slight cocoa aftertaste. This is good now. 2020-22 June 2008

1997 ()

ruby in the red colour now. The nose bears rose-hip, stewed plum, herbal garrigue plains. It is certainly moving towards or is even in a second phase. The palate holds spiced, stewed fruits, such as prune, with tannic edges at the end. Quite a sympa wine, with quiet sweetness, and very good typicité. It expands with air, and does nothing in a hurry. 2012-14 Feb 2003

1995

dark robe; there is a lot of power on the nose – broad, deep and dark aromas and sensations are delivered, the fruit concentrated. The palate starts with a black-fruited attack, a lot of cassis with stuffing in it. There is a couch of latent power, is a rich wine with decent length. The tannins are quite well integrated, and are ripe. Decent structure here, a good frame to support it. From 2001 or so. 2020-22 Oct 1996

1994

fair red robe; the bouquet is warm, is quite deep and gives a suggestive warmth, while its garden fruit jam style is nicely done; almost airs of smoked bacon with this. The palate starts on open, cooked fruits, is agreeable. The final tannins are quite chewy, the length is fairly clean. Just a bit one-dimensional. Balance is OK. A true wine that could have more mid-palate depth. 14°. 2014-16 Oct 1996

1990

(an example of the blend, 14.8°) good lustre in a black cherry colour; the nose is striking, pretty fresh, pings of clarity, is lively on mixed berry fruits. The palate attack leads on clear cherry fruit, with good weight behind it, It’s quite an orthodox style of Châteauneuf, but is good, the content is nicely filled, and there is very good length and persistence, a flourish of licorice on the final stages. This has a certain class, combines depth with elegance, and will be one of the better 1990 reds because you wouldn’t at all know it was a high 14.8° - hats off for that. This was whole bunch, moderately crushed harvest, 15-18 day vinification, press wine added, mainly 50 hl large barrel raised, the second year of some 228-litre casks being tried, 2% new oak, unfined, lightly filtered; “there’s the risk of quite hard tannins from the oak, and I’m not sure we need the help of the oak,” Elie Jeune. From 1994. 2025-28 July 1991

1989 ()

bright, sleek dark red-black robe. The nose is very intense, on crushed fruits, is very rich, holds much potential, has a note of licorice. The palate is well rounded, very well knit, holds lots of good chewy substance, but nothing strident, the depth right there. This is another full but sleek wine, all together, with sustained flavours. Both 1989 and 1990 are very well made, well cared for wines here. This is getting near the Big League. They are less massive than the 1978, which follows, though! 13.8°. This is the early bottling, Feb 1991. FFrancs 51. From 1994 – it’s more on ground force than the 1990. The first year of some 228-litre oak casks being used as an experiment, the great amount 50 hl large barrel raised. 2022-24 July 1991

1988 ()

sustained dark red colour, decent depth, just a hint of loosening at the very top. The bouquet is just glancing out, has a solid, dark aroma, is less lush than the 1989, is firm and more upright, less of a sweet pie. The palate is less opulent than the 1989 also, is more square, built around its tannins, is less intense and rich, but the content sits pretty well. It fades a tiny bit on the finish. It’s less complex than the 1989 and 1990, and some 1988s – it’s well worked, but lacks a bit of intensity above mid-weight levels, is less thorough than the two previous vintages. It certainly suffers from being tasted next to the other two years which are such big hitters. It’s good in its way – when I return to it, there is certainly decent content. 13.6°. Bottled Nov 1990. 2016-18 July 1991

1986

the colour shows some ruby at the top, is still red below. The nose reveals pepper, very early secondary dampness, is quite sweet. The pepper influence is prominent, a sign of a cooler vintage. The palate starts very sweetly, cooked jam in the flavour; I don’t find it that clear. It has mid+ weight, runs on well to the finish, the length good. It’s at the crossroads between youth and middle age – it would be fairer to judge it in a couple of years, but it’s quite a good 1986, just a bit mainstream for me. The 1989 and 1990 have more character, quality. 2008-11 July 1991

1981 ()

the colour is pretty sustained, some ruby at the top, good depth at its centre. There is excellent depth on the bouquet, has a rich, dried plum aroma, the richness striking, lots of potential for complexity. The palate is very well knit, still firm, not releasing its flavours easily, but very good. It starts with a rounding combination of dried fruit, cooked fruit a bit of leather type tannin, chewiness in their texture. It still has plenty of running, into the 2000s certainly. The fruit is very good, but overall it’s an upright, compressed style of wine, classy, one of the leading 1981s, tight as a drum still. 2015-18 July 1991

1978

very sound colour still, a very attractive robe, good brightness in it, a touch of ruby. The bouquet is tightly knit – it has just been opened, but there’s only a hint of the dampness that will come with air, has lots of richness. It shows notes of damp leaves underfoot with air. The palate is on greatly crushed fruits, shows some evolution, but that is steady, not fast. It’s extremely wide a cross the palate, goes along both straight and sideways, has a lovely depth and weight, the elements all together. It’s a cockle warmer, indeed, with lots of life still. This is Grand Vin, nae doubt about that. It’s more splendid, has more width and show than the 1981, greater succulence in it. There is great harmony here – it’s very expressive of the South. 2014-18 July 1991