2010 Châteauneuf-du-Pape

GDP guides us to a surprising and excellent vintage




 
2010 turns out to be a bit of an anomaly for the Southern Rhône, one in which yields were tiny, on average down by a third, in some places less than that due to a difficult crop set. Weather during the spring interfered with flowering and the resulting small crop had to deal with an exceptionally dry summer (that fortunately was not excessively hot). September drifted along with usefully warm weather before rainstorms hit towards the end of the month—an event that could threaten a crop with both dilution and mold if the weather doesn’t cooperate, but cooperate it did. October continued the part set during the summer months with dry, relatively warm weather that allowed the vineyards to recover from the rains and afforded vignerons a rather wide window to pick through.
 
The small yields of the vintage—and small berries in some cases—should endow the wines with great richness and power, though the long hang time did allow producers ample opportunity to fully ripen the tannins. And with it’s cooling September and October nights and lack of heat spikes, the long season allowed or the fruit to be harvested with slightly higher than normal acidities. The result should be wines of great depth and richness, well structured for the cellar but also be quite charming and attractive today. In short, they should be classic wines, and while the prices are perhaps a touch higher than previous vintages, if they live up their promise one would expect the prices to increase due to the short crop. 

All in all, the vintage really did seem attractive, but there’s only one way to find out, and that of course is by tasting the wines. What I found met, with some exceptions, my expectations. There was no shortage of alcohol here, but that was to be expected and has always been part of the Châteauneuf package. Several of the wines really stood out for me, in particular the Beaucastel, Clos des Papes, and Texier Vielle Vignes, which were my top three in that order. 
 
Other wines were both impressive and enjoyable, but fell a little short of my expectations. The Vieux Telegraph in particular was a surprise,showing off notable clove and spiced oak notes that I did not expect from this heretofore traditional producer. Vieux Donjon seemed to under-perform, a little soft and loose and yet unforced, finishing with a long leanness that bodes well for future development. I would not be at all surprised to find out I have under-rated it based on its performance tonight. Of all the wines it reminded me most of the wines produced a decade or more ago, which is probably a good thing.
 
And finally there were the Vacqueyras, which showed well in a slightly oaky modern style, and the Gigondas, which showed the excesses of that style, plastered as it was with extraction and dry tannins, proving that even in the best of vintages there will be wines that don’t appeal to one palate or another.
 
Of course this was a small sample set, though with some significant names, so any comments on the vintage can only be broad-stroke generalizations, the tools of the trade for a wine writer. I would say that there is a lot to like here, though the pricing for the wines makes it difficult to recommend any but the very best and most attractively priced. One caveat is that these are ripe wines with much of the fresh red fruit typically found in Châteauneuf-du-Pape replaced with more powerful black fruits, a distinction worth noting. If you like Châteauneuf-du-Pape then very definitely start trying these wines. They are certainly attractive and may never be more affordable, but for those of you with but a passing interest in the wines of the Southern Rhône, the prices for these wines might be prohibitive. Turning your attention to the less expensive appellations such as Vacqueyras, Gigondas and the Cotes du Rhône Villages might be a better strategy. Now on to the wines.
 

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2010 Châteauneuf-du-Pape

1.
Orin Swift Prisoner Black Muscat United States California Napa Valley (2010)
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2.
Clos des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape Premier (2010)
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3.
Vaison la Romaine Cotes du Rhone Villages. Domaine Eric Texier (2010)
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4.
Vieux Donjon Chat. du Pape (2010)
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5.
Montirius Vacqueyras Garrigues (2010)
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6.
Vignobles Brunier Vieux Telegraphe Red Chateauneuf du Pape (2010)
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7.
Domaine Moulin-Tacussel Châteauneuf-du-Pape (2010)
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8.
Chateau de Saint Cosme Gigondas (2010)
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Comments

  • Snooth User: Saffredi
    729598 151

    Hi Gregory, I am glad to see that the tasting took away (most of?) your scepticism towards Chateauneuf-du-Pape :)
    Just like in Bordeaux (and any other wine producing region for that matter) it depends mostly on the vintage (growing season) whether or not the wines from a certain region will excell. And of course, the typicity or character of the grape may or may not appeal to someone. That is a personal choice. I for one love the southern Rhone wines! P.s. you (the sceptic) and I (the admirer) have chosen the same two wines as the top of the vintage :)

    Feb 15, 2013 at 4:48 AM


  • Snooth User: Anna Savino
    Hand of Snooth
    640513 46,134

    Coincidence that i went just toCdP last summer on a road trip.. After reading this i think i will go down to the cellar and get one ready for tonight to compare notes! What do you suggest pairing with these.. For ex clos des papes 2010?

    Feb 16, 2013 at 3:43 AM


  • Snooth User: Saffredi
    729598 151

    Hi Anna,
    it seems you are one of the few lucky persons to actually have the 2010 Clos des Papes in your cellar :)

    I should emphasize ''in your cellar'', because this wine is far from ready!
    Personally, I do not prefer to drink my CdP's in their youth and my estimation would be that this particular 2010 is ready to drink some 3-4 years from now. The good news is that it should hold its own for a couple of decades.

    Looking at my tasting notes from last year november, my observations were the following:

    The 2010 Clos des Papes shows a dense purple colour. In the nose there are aromas of cocoa powder, coffee, black currant, licorice and a mix of spices. This full-bodied, meaty wine is massive and the tannin, although rounded and well-integrated, are very noticeable from start to finish. The typical aromas are very clear and detectable: plum, fig, kirsch liquor, cassis fruit. In the background I noticed some faint aromas of black tea. The alcohol is considerable: over 15% (!) Well, this is Grenache for you :) I totally did not mind the high alcohol percentage, because it was so well-integrated. This wine is almost perfectly balanced, has great length, a wonderful intensity and is stunningly complex, and finishes with an awesome persistance. It clearly needs time to mellow out the considerable tannin. Although definitely not a bargain (compared to e.g. the CdP from Beaucastel), this is one of these wines that you must have if you are a CdP groupie :) A nice detail to some is that the 2010 Clos des Papes is certified biological, starting from this vintage. The Avril family practise biodynamic farming for some years now. Compare this wine with the 2007 vintage and you will find that the 2010 has more and an even better structure.

    What to pair with this wine? First of all, I believe this wine stands so well on its own that food is not really necessary. But if you do want to pair this CdP with food, think in the line of lamb chops, roasted meat and mediterranean dishes. But avoid thick, strong-flavoured sauces! I know alot of wine consumers like to pair CdP with Asian food, but because of the strong tannin in this particular CdP avoid any overly spicy or sweet-and-sour dishes. All kind of mediterranean herbs, meaty mushrooms and truffles are welcome. Whatever you go for, keep it simple and avoid too much gravy or overly flavoured sauces.

    If you bear in mind that the 2010 Clos des Papes is still an infant, and you have acquired the skills to see and taste through the infancy, you are in for a real treat!

    I hope you enjoy it!

    Feb 16, 2013 at 8:21 AM


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