A Jewel in Chateauneuf – Bosquet des Papes Cuvee “A la Gloire de Mon Grandpere”

Captivating Chateauneuf

Captivating Chateauneuf

I adore Chateauneuf du Pape – the place, the wine, and everything about its history and local quirks (a municipal decree in ’54 banned the overhead flying, landing or taking off of flying saucers). The wines are beyond unique. For those who have spent time studying the world’s finest vinous treasures (I’ve been at it three decades plus) it usually comes down to a choice between Bordeaux, Burgundy and Chateauneuf – in terms of selecting a favorite wine from France. Sure, there are fabulous wines made by a handful of superlative growers sprinkled throughout the Languedoc, Roussillon, Loire Valley, and such, but overwhelming majorities of truly phenomenal wines are most often concentrated in the aforementioned Big 3. Burgundy tugs at my heart, but a glance at my collection clearly indicates my adoration for Chateauneuf.

And when it comes to selecting some of my favorites, consistency across vintages is part of my criteria. Nicolas Boiron and family – Les Bosquet des Papes – immediately come to mind. In this century alone, across all of their various cuvees and vintages, I can think of at least 20 individual bottlings worthy of the “outstanding” descriptor. These are wines of extremely high caliber, wines which scream of their cepage and terroir, and which may be identified from one another across vintages; they are not homogenous, uniqueness is their calling card.

At the top of the list for me is their pure Grenache cuvee, which honors current winemaker Nicolas Boiron’s predecessor. Grown in the Gardiole lieu-dit (sandy soils; which seem to produce a lot of my top choices) and fermented 50% whole cluster, Nicolas Boiron and family introduced this mind-bending offering in 1998. Parker has consistently lauded the wine, rendering the tiny production all the more difficult to acquire. Moreover, Jeb Dunnuck recently pegged it as a “Best of Chateauneuf” selection in his 2014 report (may not ever find another bottle, now).

Simply put, in the words of Parker,

“Consumers should be looking out for this domaine’s wines as the quality has soared even higher than it already was.”

 

2012 Les Bosquet des Papes Chateauneuf du Pape

A la Gloire de Mon Grandpere

The finest vintage of this cuvee I’ve tasted, the inky 2012 Châteauneuf du Pape a la Gloire de Mon Grandpere comes from old-vine Grand PereGrenache vines planted in mostly sandy soils of the Gardiole lieu-dit. Aged in a combination of concrete tank and older, larger barrels, it’s a drop-dead gorgeous 2012 that reveals tons of sweet red and black fruits, lavender, pepper, licorice and hints of garrigue. Beautifully concentrated, seamless and textured, with extraordinary elegance and polish to its tannin, it’s up with the top 2-3 wines of the vintage and will have two decades or more of longevity.

97 points – (JD) Wine Advocate

This may take some special effort to locate (at a price that’s not outrageous), but it’s a truly special bottle from a truly gifted estate…

 

Xavier Vins Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Anonyme – One of the Best & Latest Released 2007s

Xavier

Xavier, the man behind the late released, phenomenal “Cuvee Anonyme”

Along with Henri Bonneau and his notoriously difficult to acquire, always last to market Reserve des Celestins, Xavier Vignon’s Cuvee “Anonyme” requires immeasurable patience on the part of passionate Chateauneuf lovers. This stuff is legendary – for those lucky few to have tasted it. The 2007 vintage was (and remains) the greatest vintage for the wines of Chateauneuf du Pape in generations. Parker declared it was “the vintage of a lifetime.” Following up with his in-bottle summary, “this is a truly historic and profoundly great vintage.” (emphasis his)

Taking full advantage of the bounty set before him, Xavier Vignon patiently nurtured his top cuvee for a full 36 months, allowing the elevage to take place in a combination of demi-muids and seasoned, small oak casks. So complex is the cuvee for “Anonyme” that Xavier prefers to discuss the cuvee by parcels – no less than 120 individual plots contribute to the blend; many vines from the best sites have seen their 100th birthday. This is very truly and without exaggeration one of the most unique, difficult to acquire and staggeringly exotic wines ever made in Chateauneuf.

It’s no wonder Xavier is as famous and in demand as Cambie. Some of the most famous wines in the village would not be what they are today without Xavier – Marcoux, Grand Veneur, Usseglio, Beaurenard – all these domaines utilize Xavier’s direction as consulting winemaker. Once the 2007 “Anonyme” caresses your palate, it will all make sense…

Except for Henri Bonneau’s 2007 Reserve des Celestins (which is still in barrel), the last 2007 Chateauneuf du Pape to be released will be Xavier Vignon’s Anonyme. This sensational wine spent three years in a combination of demi-muids and small oak. It boasts an inky/purple color along with a sweet nose of underbrush, garrigue, licorice, blackberries and black currants. Full, thick, unctuously textured and even flamboyant, this stunning 2007 should drink well for another 15-20 years.

96 points – Robert ParkerAnonyme

This may require a special effort to acquire; I’ve got mine, you should have yours…

Dönnhoff Hermannshöhle 2013 Riesling Grosses Gewachs – Monumental Riesling, Monumental Vintage

WA95pt “Vintage’s Finest” Dönnhoff Hermannshöhle Riesling

WA95pt “Vintage’s Finest” Dönnhoff Hermannshöhle Riesling

Possibly the first piece I’ve published to the blog on this subject, yet I’ve consumed dozens of the greatest Rieslings across every known QmP and beyond. Find these 2013s… Make Hermann Dönnhoff tops on that list…

Two hundred years ago the Dönnhoff family landed in Germany’s Nahe region, beginning life as humble farmers, evolving into the most prominent wine makers in the region.

Their holdings are classified Erste Lage – Grand Cru to you and I – and are the equivalent to Burgundy’s Le Montrachet, Batard and Chevalier Montrachet; when you’re standing in a Dönnhoff-owned parcel of Riesling-planted ground, you’re standing on hallowed dirt. The most grand of their Grand Cru holdings is the slate and volcanic sedimentary rock covered Nahe masterpiece, Hermannshöhle.

For more than a century, Hermannshöhle has retained its classification; simply put: no other Nahe vineyard yields such uncompromising Riesling beauties. Named for cave (or mine) in the center of the hill – Höhle – this mountain in Nahe also bears the name of the ancient Greek Messenger Hermes – altered here to Hermann – indicating by some accounts this may have once been a mountain of worship.

For all its history, today – in the hands of Dönnhoff – Riesling from this treasured Grand Cru of Hermannshöhle is a beverage to behold!

Stephan Reinhardt has quickly become one of my favorites over at Parker’s Wine Advocate:

The 2013 Niederhauser Hermannshöhle Riesling Grosses Gewachs is breathtakingly clear, piquant and flinty on the nose, highly deep and complex but bright, with lime and grapefruit flavors. The palate is powerful, rich, dense, juicy and piquant, very salty, like melting minerals or stones, tension-full. A great dry Riesling, a monument.

95 points – (SR) Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

Might be a tough one to find, and be very certain that you get PRECISELY the correct label…

Chateauneufs & More from the Incomparable Jaume Brothers – Tops in 2012!

Alain Jaume et Fils

The modern-day Jaume facilities

On one my early trips to the region back in the 1990s, I encountered the wines of Grand Veneur in Chateauneuf du Pape. M. Alain Jaume was still very much in charge, but his sons – Sebastien and Christophe – were eagerly in training. I’ll never forget that day, as it confirmed them as being among the elite of Chateauneuf and the Rhone.

By the early 2000s, I heard that the brothers had taken more control of things, adding their now-famous Lirac, “Clos de Sixte”. A wine which can easily out “Chateauneuf” many CDPs, the debut of that wine added an exclamation point to a history of superb wines.

Originally established in the early 1800s, Grand Veneur was singled out by Parker as

One of the most brilliant estates in Chateauneuf du Pape,”

for their killer track-record.

Along with such overachievers as Janasse, Marcoux, Clos Saint Jean and CGrand Veneur VVlos des Papes, Grand Veneur consistently tops the charts – vintage in, vintage out – with gorgeous and exciting wines.

For 2012, I bought the range. From their Lirac “Clos de Sixte”, to the “Les Origines” (a selection of the best barrels), to the VV, each wine is here for you to explore. And if there was ever a vintage worth exploring to the max, 2012 is the one…

Available here:Jaume Clos Sixte

http://www.b-21.com/searchwine.asp

(search producer: Grand Veneur)

2009 Pintia |Vega Sicilia’s “Very Cool” Toro | 94 Points Wine Advocate

Vega Sicilia

A lot has been made of the famous Vega Sicilia. The name itself is undoubtedly the most recognized in Spanish wine loving circles. It holds its own – in more ways than one – alongside the most revered in wine. Its history is legendary.

I wonder, though how many know that Vega Sicilia was once sold as Rioja. Or that the original owner – Senor Lecanda – returning from Bordeaux with 18,000 vines to be planted at what is now called Vega Sicilia, would have the harvest distilled for Brandy.

My, how the world has changed.

Turn the page and meet the real forward thinkers, the Alvarez family, in charge since 1982. What they have done here is nothing short of miraculous. Expanding while perfecting, they have added estates across Spain, including Pintia in Toro, acqPintia 2009uired in 1997.

I asked about the name.

“Short, sweet, cool and easy to remember…” says Pablo.

They’ve tamed the once wild and belligerent Tempranillo of Toro, too. In Pablo’s cellars, deftly controlled by wine-maker Xavier Ausas, this is Toro with no equal. Very cool, very hip, totally unmatched.

The Vega Sicilia of Toro? You nailed it!

Track it down here

Chateau Sixtine Chateauneuf 2010 | Vatican’s “Top Wine of the Vintage” RP

Cuvee Vatican

Ah those 2010 Chateauneufs! Wish I had a buck for each request!

Parker made sure the world was paying attention, declaring:

“2010 is a great vintage that is extremely close in quality to 2007”, finishing with: “the two greatest vintages I have ever tasted in thirty-three years of visiting the region [are] 2007 and 2010.”

Prices for the “big 10” skyrocketed overnight. Ferreting out any semblance of sanity in terms of pricing has been nearly impossible. But my perseverance pays off from time to time…

Take this exquisite beauty for example, Chateau Sixtine Chateauneuf du Pape 2010, one of Chateauneuf du Pape’s most ancient estates. Their first estate bottling took place in 1902. This place is a treasure trove of gnarled old Grenache vines, a large section of which are reported to be nearly 100 years old.

The Diffonty family has owned the place for generations, with Jean-Marc (I think he’s a visionary) now firmly in control. Where once there were several cuvees, he is focused on producing only one estate wine – christeneChateau Sixtined Chateau Sixtine as of this brilliant vintage 2010.

And what a profound effort indeed! Black and blue fruits, minerals and graphite that go on for miles. Alas, as limited as you’d expect, too…

Available here

 

Guigal’s Condrieu la Doriane – A Monumental 2012! Vinous Nectar!

guigal-condrieu-la-doriane

As with the Perrin’s Hommage, Laurence Feraud’s Cuvee da Capo and Chapoutier’s Ermitage Le Pavillon – Rouge AND Blanc – Guigal’s exquisite vinous expression (this one in Viognier) is a work of art.

As with the 2010 version, this absolutely irresistible bottle of pure hedonism flirts with perfection – to coin the phrase used so eloquently by Jeb over at the Wine Advocate. Of all the hundreds of variations on Viognier I’ve tried in my career, there have never been any which can summon such verbose discussions as this one.

Drinking this wine is the liquid equivalent to driving one’s dream car, owning one’s fantasy sailing vessel or discovering one’s perfect obsession across any number of desires. This stuff is that damn good! Aromas of the wildest, perfectly indescribable floral nuances freeze you in your tracks… you don’t want to do anything but smell the stuff. Then the first wave of the most luscious, palate saturating, mélange of exotic wild island fruits blows your palate away, with wave after wave of penetrating complexity. As the wine gains its momentum, the second, third and subsequent tastes waft through your senses, leaving you spellbound in their perfect mysteries. Guigal 2012 Doriane

Sound too good to be believed? You’ll believe me, believe me! This is liquid gold; the likes of which very rarely see the light of day.

This treasure is available HERE