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The Wines

65-70% Grenache, 15-20% Mourvèdre, 10-12% Syrah, 3-5% Cinsault/Vaccarèse, 1st 20% whole bunch, next 80% destemmed, 4 week vinification, part vat emptying/refilling, pumping overs, Grenache, Cinsault, Vaccarèse, Mourvèdre vat-raised, (before late-2010s Mourvèdre aged new-1 year 228-litre oak casks), Syrah new-1 year 228-litre oak casks for 16-18 months, unfined, filtered, several bottlings, 30-60,000 b

2019 ()

(vat) quite a dark red colour; the bouquet is charming, based on raspberry fruit with sweet herbs in attendance, rosemary and a note of iodine. The palate bears appealing, tasty red berry fruit with really good, calm depth, an attack that goes well long. It is great with a leg of lamb, is vivacious and full of energy. This is bingo STGT Châteauneuf, drawn from the garrigue lands, not fussed about in the cellar. This remains one of the great wines for local truth, and VALUE. The finish brings in a little nugget of fibre from the tannins, all in order there. Buy this in magnum or jereboam if you have a date to celebrate from 2019 – it won’t let you down in 25 years. From 2023. 2044-46 Nov 2020

2018

(concrete vat) quite a full red robe; the bouquet is smoky, bears crisp mulberry, red berry fruit, peppery notes, herbs on the premises. The palate comes with a good level of gras richness, develops spicing, has a crystalline note in the fruit, which engages well. It finishes with a knuckle of tannin, a pebbly texture from that, is going in the right direction, keeps ticking over quietly but well. From 2022. 2040-42 Oct 2019

2017 ()

(concrete vat, bottling early 2020) regular red robe; sunshine warmth resides in the bouquet, blackberry, leaves, plum fruit foremost. The palate has an iron, stones tang with cooked plum, some assertive tannins swiftly in on the act, not yet drawn together. It’s making its way, lies in two halves for now – juice early, then more dry/sunswept zones. It’s a genuine Châteauneuf, with vintage typicity, and lasts quite well. 40,000 b. From 2023. 2044-46 May 2019

2016

(vat/casks, bottling June 2018) shiny dark red colour. The bouquet has a garrigue, herbes de Provence landscape, centres on plum fruit with a smoke-tobacco angle and a winsome floral touch. It’s going to be a classic, varied Châteuneuf nose over time, worth waiting for. The palate is enjoyable, filled with red fruits that move along well, a note of cedar, and a pocket of late tannin that brings extra graininess. This is an unhurried, unforced wine, very much in the domaine style over the years. There is glow on the aftertaste. It’s suavely fruited on the finish, presents an authentic glass. From late 2019, is in the finesse camp. 14.5°. 40,000 b. 70% Gren, 15% Mourvèdre, 10% Syr, 5% Cins. €28. 2033-36 Oct 2017

2015

has a Grenache red robe; The bouquet is a bit animal, lurking, some downhome in it, red stone fruits. It isn’t very expressive, but there is a mixed bag of prompts to come. The attack is careful, in on itself; it develops good heart and length, ups the ante on the red fruits, and flourishes as it goes. This is STGT Châteauneuf-du-Pape, garrigue in the glass, the close crisp, iron and mineral there. 13.5°. From 2021. 2042-44 May 2019

2014

gentle red robe; the nose is bright, on pepper and strawberry jam, inner woodsy touches, prune fruit, some roasting. The palate expresses red fruits with a trail of light tannin. It’s a bit simple, but drinks easily and the fruit is clear. It’s not quite all joined up as it goes. It doesn’t ring my bell like some 2014s that are most appealing and juicy. The close is savoury, a touch of mixed herbs there. 14°. 2029-31 May 2019

2013 ()

red robe, with a slightly pale top. The nose is sultry, nicely evolving with spice box, geranium, plums, strawberry fruit, clove and cedar: it’s very typical, and inviting. The palate is also well en route, holds suave content, fleshy matter, has a real good Grenache heart, plums a go go. It is now straightening out its tannins, after six years. This is spiced, wine of a drier vintage in feel, one with quite thick skins. There is glow on the aftertaste. This is really capital, Dr Watson, is an STGT Châteauneuf. “It wasn’t a very hot year, so ripening came gradually, and there was no over-ripeness,” André Brunel. 14°. 2035-38 May 2019

2012 ()

nice depth of red in the robe. The nose is reserved for now – it has a calm layer of red fruit jam, mulberry and prune. This gives sun in sensible supply, a toffee sweetness and some light floral notes. The attack is assertive, with a little edge on the fruit-tannin mix. The flavour centres on red fruits with some notes of herbs. This has hardly got going. It finishes running, freshly, and persists there. However, it needs to fuse slight burn and tar in its late tannins. A fresh vintage Châteauneuf, that needs leaving until 2018. 14°. 65% Gren, 20% Mourvèdre, 15% Syr. 2030-32 Sept 2015, Oslo Previously Nov 2013 *** (casks, bottling Jan 2014) dark red; soaked fruits, a high angle to them, the bouquet is perfumato, is a nose of substance, shows drifts of chocolate. The palate is wrapped in on itself, picks up assertive but cool tannins in its careful red fruiting. It starts on cooked Grenache plum fruit; there is a torrid aspect here and there along the palate which raises questions about its balance. Give this time post bottling. Decant it. From 2016. 2024-27 Nov 2013

2011

dark plum robe. Has a baked air, mixes blackberry and prune coulis, comes with soaked raspberries and flowers – this is a ripe debut. The palate offers supple, easy going fruit, sweet touches: fruit pastille time here. There are some deft late tannins, nicely traditional and aromatic. Attractive, quite early drinking wine with a good link between nose and palate. It ends on tobacco, smokiness. A good, honest Châteauneuf from a more quiet vintage that will please. It mixes flowers, fruit and sweetness well, has support through the palate, which doesn’t drop at the end. The aftertaste is sound, nicely gummy. From 2014. 14°. 75% G, 15% M this year, low Mourvèdre. Bottling Jan 2013, next month. 35,000 b this year. 2026-28  Dec 2012

2010

attractive Grenache plum red robe, full of appeal. The nose is most promising – it gives a lateral wave of full, dark red berry, with classic herbs, the variety of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, some meatiness, a hum of flowers. There is a lovely Grenache heart to it, very true. The palate is enclosed, wrapped up, offers a gradual declaration of tannin and cut, a mineral later phase. It attacks on tight red stone fruit, the early palate enhanced by prune fruit, bonny juice. This will rock. Very good length, really persistent, STGT wine. Balance good, will drink well as a result without having to wait ages. 14°. 2032-34  Nov 2013  Previously Dec 2012 ***** sustained dark red robe. Has a grilled, bacon-like bouquet that is wide and deep, hardly showing for now. The under notes bring in red meat, stewed plum, garrigue windborne dust. The nose is serious – offers real width and potential. The palate is a solid block of flavour, but has the elegance of the domaine, and is not overdone and heady like so many Châteauneufs – hence the “cool” late moments on the palate. The attack tastes of cooked raspberry with a spice inset, the initial fruit ripe. It ends on a leather-dust mix. From around 2017 to allow integration – this has plenty of potential, with freshness its big ace card. 65% G, 23% M, 8% Syrah, 4% various this year. “The Mourvèdre, more than usual, helped its freshness this year,” André Brunel. 2033-35  Dec 2012

2009 ()

dark, matt hue red. The nose is sunbaked, has the simple openness of the year, and violet-floral, dark notes. Comes with deeper earthy and slight farmyard airs, some spice. The palate manages size, depth and a sweet elegance – it is rounded above all. It extends well and ends in dusty, flint, garrigue notes. Decant this. From late 2014. “The old vines Grenache defend well against dry tannins in dry years,” André Brunel. 14°. 2029-31  Dec 2012

2008

quite a dark plum colour; zappy, immediate, spiced nose with a liqueur backing, a pool of black fruit that is dark. It is now on to a second stage. The palate is neatly packaged – it is not a wide spread, has a grainy texture, with prune and date in the flavour. It is advancing, but keeping together. The finish has a strike of mulled fruits and smoky tannins. It ends on a chewy note. “I picked very late, on 4-6 October, and very fast, after a lot of rain in the early part of the harvest. Then we had very dry weather. We waited for three weeks since the crop was initially diluted by the rain. The wine has a good level of concentration for the vintage, is very elegant and is a good drinking wine for the restaurant trade,” André Brunel. Only 30,000 b this year. 14°. 2021-23  Dec 2012

2007 ()

(vat/cask) full, bright dark red. There is a nutty, grilled top note to the bouquet, one that lies above a ripe, oily fruit couch, that is accompanied by olives and sizzled bacon. There is a wide deposit of black fruit such as blackberry on the palate, with a violet and slightly meaty tone. It is wide and makes live progress until a soft finale where there is a smatter of tannin that is elegantly placed. The end palate is very typical – herbal and full of heart, the aftertaste aromatic. A streamlined, sofa wine. 2020-22 “It has closed a little and may gain some tannin and chewiness. There is certainly less tannin than 2005. At first, we thought it was like 1990, but it won`t keep as long as that – the acidity is low. 3 months ago there were very good tannins, but now the wines are evolving,” A.Brunel. Nov 2008

2006

steady dark plum robe; has an open, jam aroma that travels across the glass: there is raspberry, ripe red fruits with seasoning such as laurel and a bounce of garrigue. The palate fruit is more cautious – this is in a dumb phase. The flavour is plum, with floral scent in it, while the tannins work away on the finish, until it ends on a point of pepper. This will be gracious and local from around 2010 on. The length is pretty good, with some late meatiness and breadth. Not a big vintage, but it will drink well – perhaps like a fuller version of 2004. Today it starts with some rich promise, then quietens, and I suspect it is still under the September 2008 bottling. I am ready to review, hopefully up. 2020-23. “The laurel, olive tapenade side is classic of Les Cailloux,” A.Brunel. Nov 2008 Previously Nov 2007 **** (the final assemblage) quite full, dark tinted robe; black fruits with a ripe tone on the bouquet, that is round and a little reserved. Also has some sweet grapefruit at this very young stage. Pretty, herbal infused black fruits on the palate; the black fruit is well installed. Also shows raspberry with figs, and a plush note towards the finish, has a lot of late black fruit sucrosity. There is a lot of sweet-toned richness in this wine, with good length, too. Its richness is well-founded. 2024-27 To be bottled spring 2008. Nov 2007

2005 ()

full robe, dark plum; the bouquet holds a meaty, red berry mix with some late reserve as it tightens, is consistent and thorough, carries interesting red jam airs. The palate mixes richness and sinew. Has a definite tannic thread that shapes it, and provides its skeleton. Has a well-established, elegant richness. Shows the domaine`s rather intimate style, and is not at all flashy. A little late coffee and mineral, this has very good length. Esp late 2010 or 2011 on. Raised 20 months in this dark year. 1st bottling Sept 2007, last Dec 2007. 2025-27 Nov 2007

2004 ()

half bottle, Oslo: Grenache, plum red colour, a little transparent at the top; softly sweet aroma of red fruit with a fragrant, rose-hip layer (served too warm); once it has cooled, the bouquet is more dense, with some leather and game, with good, ripe red berry fruit with an earthy couch. Round shape at start, sweetness rolls through it and delivers a tasty, low key finish. The flavour is herb-infused. Quite a live end with kick, has a crisp little tannic, herbal burst on the finish. STGT wine. Easy to revel in its nourishing simplicity. 100% reliable this Tradition cuvée, whatever the vintage, whatever the place it is drunk. 2018-20 Oct 2007 Previously Oct 2006 *** 2 bottles tried in London, Oct 2006 – first was wrong. A little toasty, yeasty aroma, as if low sulphur wine that has travelled abroad. Dynamic early fruit on the palate, it bounds out of the glass. Bonny and open now. Sweet, fleshy wine, has a savoury, beef stew finish. Is well set for 2008-09. If the nose were cleaner, would be a **** wine. 2020-22 Previously July 2005 mainly young Grenache (cask) ** suave, stylish, effortless bouquet, pepper. Peppery attack, the mid-palate rather low-key. Easy wine, down the line. Pretty freshness. Next cask: Grenache, plus some Mourvèdre, Cinsault (cask) *** refined bouquet, herbal tones in its potential. Good, elegant fruit that continues well; good tar/licorice combo. Subtle, harmonious. July 2005

2003

ruby tints in robe; rather silken, suave aroma of warm coffee and prune with steady, round fruit under it. Good palate, with a fresh start, comes out well, this is tasty. Holds stone fruit flavours, rich black fruits here and a late raisin buzz. Very good for the vintage since it is warm and genuinely savoury all the way through. Balance is good, and has a tickle of late tannin. Such tannic finesse is an achievement. 14°. 2020-23 Oct 2007, London Previously July 2005 *** baked, red fruits bouquet, fruit lozenges style, touch of animal. Attractive shape to the palate, savoury with good depth. Persists well, the savoury element continues all the way. The alcohol, tannin and spices are all well enveloped. Beau vin. Length good, leaves a raspberry aftertaste. From 2007/08. 2017-19 July 2005

2000

really well-founded red fruit heart to the bouquet, with a little lightness in the top rim. Very evolving Grenache nose, with red fruits, red fruit gums. Is persistent, if a little reduced and locked up, stemming from the Mourvèdre, touch floral also. Red stone fruit start to palate, with a very good acidity and interesting late life and vigour. Peppery, wee charcoal tone to the aftertaste. Has a lot of life, is rich early on. Quite an STGT wine, grass roots Châteauneuf. Decant this. “This was a very ripe year, but there is nerve in the wine from the Mourvèdre,” A.Brunel. 2022-24 Nov 2007

1999

still red, with a little top ruby. Profound, quite down home bouquet, is more fundamental than the 2000, shows baked tarts, prune. Evolving red fruits start to palate, is a mobile affair with an end that is grainy, carrying light red fruits there. Has a clearer, more dancing finish than the 2000, which is in step with this vintage and its clear fruit nature. Pretty good end freshness, with a live, cherry and wild strawberry tone, towards a brisk nature there. Is a bit limited in horizon, but has charm. 2021-23 “This had shut down, but is now back on the move,” A.Brunel. Nov 2007

1998 ()

ruby tints in the plum red; licorice, liquid honey, sweet honey and dates feature in an abundant, varied bouquet that develops floral touches as it airs. This has a lovely, sweet, spicy palate, is a very beau Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The attack is rounded. In full form now. The length is fine, really fine, right at the end. STGT wine of high quality and deft of touch. Excellent with pheasant – it completes a soft, velvety ensemble, is a complete dovetail with the bird. It is an excellent display of Châteauneuf’s finesse, aplomb. It only emphasizes the fact that the appellation produces too many surcharged wines today. 14° 2021-23  Oct 2010, East Sussex  Previously Sept 2009 ****(*) maturing red with ruby top. Really gracious, warm run of aroma cross the glass – baked fruits, a winning soft, sweet jam air as well, also ground coffee – it is all mature, without being old. Definitely a wine of the south, and a little potency in it – it is probably 14.5° plus. After 1 hour air, a smooth licorice aroma enters, also thyme, herbs, loganberries – great variety. The palate has a tasty, wholesome fruit start, the flavour led by prune, layers of black fruit jam, ending in a scented, floral-violet finesse. Its tannins line it well, are fresh and nicely crisp towards the finish. Compared to 1995, these tannins are present also, but are more snappy, and surrounded by a weightier content, one that is more “plush”. Bang on, classic, nicely mature Châteauneuf – the Real Thing. STGT fans – queue up, please. Great with marinaded Sussex lamb chops (fresh tomatoes, garlic, soy sauce, capers, rosemary, olive oil, Lea & Perrins, balsamic vinegar). After 90 minutes, there is a definite line of acidity apparent. Don`t decant this – it becomes more grainy, tightens after 105 minutes. Can tick along well. 2022-23 Sept 2009 Previously March 2006 **** the most pretty colour, lovely mix of youth and experience, strawberry-ruby. Down home, become fungal bouquet, smoky, with red fruit jam, has a gamey width, an animal skin aroma that would unsettle some. Overt spice on attack; fruit is aromatic as often is from A. Brunel - big strawberry imprint with spice stamp. Long, very refined aftertaste, softly textured. Still good and tight, the flavour is clear and is brighter than many 1998s. Still sound acidity, keeps it clean. True Grenache style, interesting and varied wine. STGT leaning. 2021-23 March 2006

1979

a magnum, so all the better for that, in my cellar for many years: red, ruby colour; sweet, beautifully rounded nose that is plump and satisfying, has a floral trail behind, minor game notions, but also very typical herbal, grassy airs. The palate is also scented, has a definite tannic spine, is fresh. It is really on song now, with its good juice and squeezy pleasure. It ends firmly, and I note the “dark” presence of the Mourvèdre that helps to underpin it, also the dry year in its compact spine. The length is good – the wine has a gentle progression along the palate. Fine acidity in this. Very good indeed, much liked by the 14 wine trade veterans present. 2020-24 June 2010 Note: this was an intermediary stage for the Domaine Les Cailloux. Lucien, born 1906, was one of the first growers I met at Châteauneuf in 1973, partly because he bottled his wine via the small Les Reflets grouping, and so was one of the few vignerons offering wine in bottle. His son André was full-time on the estate, having started in 1972, and was judiciously adapting methods without upsetting his dad. Thus the crop was whole bunch crushed and fermented (Lucien), and raised 70% in enamel vats (André`s innovation since 1977, driven by his dislike of old wood that for him tainted the wine) and 30% old 50 hl foudre or barrel (Lucien). There was also cooling equipment, installed after the very hot year of 1976 (André). The wine was high in Mourvèdre – 20-22%, the vines planted with prescience by Lucien in the 1950s; it held around 73% Grenache (average age about 50 years then) and the remaining 5-6% was Syrah, planted in 1972 when the INAO central body advised it as an improver vine for the region. If only they had suggested more Mourvèdre… “I made no Cuvée Centenaire in those days,” recalls André, “so this includes crop from the north and the south of the appellation” – Farguerol (N-W, very stony soils near Cabrières and Mont-Redon) with its 1900s Grenache, also Vaudieu with its sand and Cansaud and Les Serres down in the south with their more free-draining soil. Farguerol (4.5 hectares) and Cansaud (3.5 hectares) were the main sites. “There were snowflakes at harvest time, near the end, which was very, very rare,” continues André. “It had been a dry year, and the crop was very ripe and healthy. We picked in a hurry from the end of September until 10 October. The vinification lasted 3 weeks, with only pumping overs, and I had to heat the cellar to finish the sugars. We only used natural wild yeasts in those days, remember. The wine was quite tannic to start with, and averaged 15°; Farguerol`s wine came in at 16° to 16.5°- it was the last picked, with the first picked crop 14° to 14.5° - all this talk today about high degree is one thing, but Châteauneuf has always been like that” (implying you have to not over-extract and then blend expertly). The wine was raised for 16 months, bottled 18 months after the harvest in several different tranches. Maybe 200 to 300 magnums were produced. The label has a healthy artisanal 1.5 L engraved on the bottom right hand corner. Any wine like this gives the drinker an insight to a time several decades ago when the grower was just that – a person feeling his or her way by instinct, common sense and a dose of patriarchal instruction. If Wine Schools could all have a Department of Instinct, as I have implied to the growers of McLaren Vale, then we would all be better off – people and wines.