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…

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)

Chateauneuf du Pape 2012 – First Release – Low Yields, Excellent Wines!

CDP

There’s a word you need to memorize: coulure. It’s the French vinous term for a condition which results in low yields for the wine-makers. Grapes fail to develop after flowering, leaving growers weeping. This condition has wreaked havoc across France. Remember the 2010 Burgundies? Well, it’s happened again! But what spells sorrow for growers equates to sheer joy for quality conscience consumers.

Coulure lowers yields and concentrates flavors. Cut to the chase, these 2012 Chateauneufs are packed with flavor! The Grenache harvest alone was cut by 60% at some places, the resulting wines as juicy as I’ve tasted in quite awhile. As reported in Tanzer,

Vincent Avril [of Clos des Papes] quipped sardonically that ‘maybe we need to come up with a new definition of “normal” for yields because this is getting to be sadly consistent.’”

But here’s the downside to all this: allocations will be slashed. One of my suppliers actually laughed when I tried to order 25 cases of our best seller. “I’ll give you 5”, he replied. These are sublime folks. But when they’re gone, that’s it. With that in mind, here’s round one (watch this space for more to come)…    clos-des-papepegau-cdphillaire-cdp-l

First release offers may be found here

 

Updates from The Greats – Donelan Family Wines

 

Donelan Family Wines

If you have plans for being in the Sonoma area in early August, add this event to your itinerary, NOW.

For ME, when it comes to selecting the top 5 or so greatest experiences my palate has enjoyed, considering wines from America, there will simply not be a better offer to come our way this year. For true Syrah aficionados, Grenache fanatics or lovers of Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Hermitage, Donelan Family Wines (formerly known as Pax) bottles the most expressive, sublime, powerful and hedonistic single-vineyard-designated and blended wines of this generation.

I have been drinking and collecting these exquisite wines for many vintages now. I encourage you to do the same.

Donelan Summer 2010 Open House and current offers:

via Donelan Summer 2010 Open House.

DONELAN FAMILY WINES – CHATEAUNEUF AND HERMITAGE FROM AMERICAN LEGENDS

 

Donelan Family (PAX)

If price alone predicates your daily “quaffer” selections, vinously speaking, then perhaps this collection will fall somewhere outside your comfort zone. But for ME, when it comes to selecting the top 5 or so greatest experiences my palate has enjoyed, considering wines from America, there will simply not be a better offer to come our way this year. For true Syrah aficionados, Grenache fanatics or lovers of Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Hermitage, Donelan Family Wines (formerly known as Pax) bottles the most expressive, sublime, powerful and hedonistic single-vineyard-designated and blended wines of this generation.

I have been drinking and collecting these exquisite wines for many vintages now. I encourage you to do the same.

A Very Special Offer of Pax & Donelan Verticals.

AmByth Estate – Biodynamic Beauty

ambyth

While on our recent tour in search of the perfect location for our next venture, I took a few moments one early morning to check the hotel computer, just in case my in-box had any surprises for me.  My passion for the world of biodynamic wines has me sharing every tidbit of information I come across these days so it’s not unusual to have 40 or 50 new emails waiting for me some mornings.  This particular morning, with its crisp clean Virginia air and cool blue sky greeting me, would see my in-box offering me one of the more personally exciting notes I’ve received lately.

I suppose most folks wouldn’t think twice about receiving a short note from Demeter-USA, in fact I’d be willing to bet a majority of folks have never heard of the organization.  But for me, with all the efforts I’ve put forth in the formation of our new company, beginning with the months of research that have gone towards this new business plan, all with the end goal in sight of a venture based almost exclusively on biodynamic wines and organic foods, this note was a sort of recognition.  It was, in a way, a small beacon, if you will, perhaps nudging me forward, encouraging me to not give up hope. 

The work we’ve put into this plan of ours, this plan to build a business that offers wine drinkers the purity and expressiveness that is the natural result of biodynamic wine making, has been intense.  We now are turning our attention to gathering like-minded individuals to build the foundation, and these are the times that try my soul.  But the letter from the Marketing Director from Demeter-USA has given me just enough encouragement to move forward.  My dedication to these products, fueled even more by a taste of AmByth Estate’s wines, continues….

AmByth Estate, based in Templeton, CA, is a Demeter certified biodynamic vineyard producing Demeter certified biodynamic wines.  For those new to, or newly interested in the world of biodynamic wines, I encourage a visit to http://www.demeter-usa.org/ for a brief introduction.  My place in this picture is one of advocate or ambassador.  I have tasted enough of these types of wines to know how good they can be and to have formed a preference for them, resulting in my dedication to building a company that will offer them to the public.  Demeter, however, offers insights on the “how’s” and “why’s” of biodynamics. 

Returning to AmByth Estate now, we find ourselves in the appellation of Paso Robles, at the region’s first and ONLY certified biodynamic winery.  Much like another of my favorite producers, and very much in keeping with the philosophies, you’ll find only native yeasts here.  Engage with me, or any wine-maker serious about terroir, and you’ll have yourself hours of conversation on that one fact alone; native yeast is one paramount factor to producing wines that speak of their origin.  And these wines from AmByth (the Welsh word meaning “forever”), as I’m fond of saying, scream of their place and time.

AmByth Estate is most-known for their Grenache, and it is precisely this wine that I find particularly worthy of your attention.  Revealing complexities and nuances reminiscent of France’s Chateauneufs from producers like Villeneuve or single vineyard Rhone producers such as Montirius, this is a Grenache for pleasure seekers.  Bursting with black and red fruits, all wrapped in a delicious frame of assorted spices and perfect acidity, this beauty will marry well with not only grilled meats, but your favorite pastas and medium cheeses, too.  The purity and balanced alcohol level make it a wine for the entire meal and the aromas continue to develop for hours.  Take your time with this one, you’ll be rewarded….

And at $135 a three-pack ($45 per bottle), it’s a great buy, too!

[clearspring_widget title=”Widget” wid=”4a268c9d243e7ac0″ pid=”4a292052a709897b” width=”200″ height=”168″ domain=”widgets.clearspring.com”]

And as always, I’d like to know what you think: chambertin@sbcglobal.net