Those who have read my past articles on the region know that I have an "interesting" relationship with Chateauneuf - I rarely find myself drinking these wines, as they tend to be quite wild and new-worldly for me. Especially in the riper vintages such as the critically acclaimed 2007, they are right there with the "worst" of California in jamminess and alcoholic potency, although they still have more acidity, spice, and barnyardiness than Cali, which is definitely a plus in CdP's favor. All that said, a nicely aged Chateauneuf, even from a jammy vintage, eventually sheds its sweetness and often develops incredible flavors of herbs and spices, metals and minerals (imagine a slightly rusty rain gutter full of crisp, clean water after a rain), tomato paste, blood and meat, all mixed in with juicy berry compote - it's like a "Bloody Mary" only much better! Really fascinating and delicious stuff. You can check out this special encounter with a '99 CdP that left a deep impression. It is possible to get a glimpse of that from a younger CdP, but much experience and imagination are required. Wines from cooler, "lesser" years, like the 2008, which I praised a year ago, tend to be more transparent. For those who find 2008 perhaps too light, I'd go for 2006.
In the end, my faves were not from 2009, but rather from the "library wines" table manned by the president of Angeles Wine Agency - Jeff Wellburn.
Jeff Wellburn treating me to a magnum of the '98 Domaine de la Cote de 'Ange from his personal stash.
The three wines below were particularly tasty, including the one on the right from the super-hot 2003, which managed to possess lively acidity and satisfying secondary fruit.
Where is 2009 relative to the above? Well, it's closer to 2007. The ripeness and jamminess are back. Growers, producers and critics are extolling the vintage. Maybe not as "big" as 2007 (and probably not as long-lasting, due to lighter tannins), clearly not my style. I think the warmth of 2009 will reflect better in Northern Rhone and Burgundy. Too hot for the South, in my opinion. Which is perhaps a great news for all those who loved the 2007.
Here is the list of the CdP producers at the event:
- DOMAINE ALBIN JACUMIN
- BOSQUET DES PAPES
- CLOS DES BRUSQUIERES
- CLOS DES PAPES
- DOMAINE DE LA CHARBONNIERE
- DOMAINE DE LA COTE DE L’ANGE
- LE VIEUX DONJON
- CHATEAU FORTIA
- DOMAINE LAFOND
- MAS DE BOISLAUZON
- DOMAINE MOULIN-TACUSSEL
- DOMAINE PONTIFICAL
- DOMAINE OLIVIER HILLAIRE
- DOMAINE TOUR SAINT MICHEL
- DOMAINE DE LA CONSONNIERE
- DOMAINE PIERRE USSEGLIO & FILS
- CUVEE DU VATICAN
Pierre Usseglio and Vieux Donjon were reliable as always. Most everyone else was in the ballpark as well. To me, this was more about the vintage than a producer.