Chateauneuf-du-Pape has an all-around approachability not readily found in other high-end regions, say Burgundy, the Médoc or Barolo. They are approachable in price, great ones can be had for below $40 and prices rarely go much above $100. They are also approachable in terms of drinkability. While they have terrific aging potential, most are very good young and do not necessarily need aging to be enjoyed. Mostly this is due to the innate accessibility of opulent, mildly tannic Grenache, the primary grape of Chateauneuf. They vary in style but the good ones cover a wide range of flavor notes from cherry and strawberry to pepper, spice, earth and garrique (herbal notes, herb de provence). We have three great Chateauneufs from the solid 2018 vintage for three budgets.
Clos du Mont-Olivet has been owned by the same family since 1932. The wines are classic in style, with complex aromatics, dark fruit and garrique. They are 80% Grenache with Syrah and Mourvedre in the balance. Most of the Grenache vines are 90yrs old and some are over 100. They are not fined or filtered.
Saint Cosme is one of the oldest estates in the Rhone, or maybe the world. It has been owned by the same family, the Barrouls, since 1490! They are the leading vineyard in the neighboring appellation Gigondas, but as a négocient firm they source their Chateauneuf grapes from the top growers in the best lieux-dits, and they’ve had a long time to establish those connections. Their Chateauneuf is always outstanding with classic notes of cherry, truffle and olives. The wine is made with indigenous yeast and is not fined or filtered. It is 50% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre and 10% Syrah.
Vieux Telegraph has been in the same family since the 1890s and is named after a telegraph signal tower that was built in the early 19th century on the property. Vieux Telegraph is another classic producer and they own what is considered to be some of the finest terroir in the appellation. The wines display great concentration and depth with rusticity and earthiness. They are 80% Grenache with the balance Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault. The wine is imported by Kermit Lynch and is one of his early ‘discoveries’. It is the most age-worthy of these three and should evolve nicely for the next 15+ years.
Clos du Mont Olivet Chateauneuf du Pape 2018
Sale Price: $35.97
Vinous, 90-93pts. – “Limpid ruby-red. Spice-accented red berry and cherry aromas are complemented by building floral and mineral nuances. Alluringly sweet and seamless in the mouth, offering lively black raspberry, cherry liqueur, licorice and baking spice flavors braced by a spine of juicy acidity. Finishes supple and long, with lingering floral and spice notes and subtle tannins that lend shape and gentle grip.”
Chateau de Saint Cosme Chateauneuf du Pape 2018
Sale Price: $55.97
Professional reviews aren’t in yet for the 2018 Saint Cosme, but the 2017, from a comparably strong vintage, received excellent scores: 96pts. from Wine Enthusiast, 95pts. from Wine Spectator and 94pts. from Wine Advocate.
Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge 2018
Sale Price: $83.97
James Suckling, 93pts. – “This has a lot of red fruit, a lot of personality and a lot of brambly aromas with spicy nuances, too. The palate has a very smooth build and a deep, plum and red-fruit core, framed in long, noble and rich, ripe tannins. The immediate fleshy appeal is high. Wait for the rest. Try from 2022.”
Past Cellar Selections:
Il Censo Praruar and Njuro – School of Bea
Bordeaux 2009 – A Legendary Vintage
Walter Hansel Pinot Noir and Chardonnay 2018
Muga Rioja – Old World and New
Luigi Scavino Azelia Barolo 2016
Clos i Terrasses “Laurel” 2018 - Homage to Garnacha
Canon la Gaffeliere St. Emilion '15 & '16
Keenan Cabernet Reserve 2016 - Cult Wine for the Masses (Ha!)
Casanova di Neri 2016 – Historic Vintage & 99pts.
Falletto Giacosa – Grand Cru Barolo
Gianfranco Alessandria Barolo 2016
Chandon de Briailles - Wines Without Artifice
Viña Real Rioja Gran Reserva – What were you doing in 1987?
Domaine Simon Bize 2018 – Value Burgundy
La Rioja Alta “890” Gran Reserva Rioja 2004
Alion and Pintia – The Other Vega Sicilias