Saturday, March 31, 2012

2010 Chateauneuf-du-Pape - a great vintage

Last week, Angeles Wine Agency ran their annual trade tasting in Fort Mason, San Francisco. I've covered these tastings in the past. Every year, for me this is the best opportunity to size up the soon-to-be-released vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape ("CdP"), across a broad spectrum of recognizable producers imported into this country. See their CdP portfolio here.

I only drink CdP on occasion, as I tend the find the wines not very versatile - too big and bold for most food pairings, particularly in the riper vintages like 2007 and 2009 (much acclaimed by famous critics, but not me). With age they do soften and become more appealing and nuanced. In fact, some of greatest vinous epiphanies I've had were from aged Chateauneuf-du-Pape (documented here and here). But by and large, of all the reds in France, drinking Chateauneuf-du-Pape is probably my least enthusiastic affair. All that said, I must say that I was swept off my feet by the superb quality of 2010.

I examined twenty-five 2010 CdP reds. These are serious wines of depth and concentration, with great tannic structure and acidic balance, but without the jamminess and over-the-top fruitiness that I found in 2007 and 2009. While not 100% of the wines appealed to me, the best examples dazzled the palate with elegant black olive and white pepper. My favorites (after several re-tastes, to confirm) were Le Vieux Donjon (my wine of the tasting), Bosquet des Papes (deliciously liqueur-ish), and Clos des Brusquieres (with a hint of whiter pepper).

My faves: Bosquet des Papes, Le Vieux Donjon (my "wine of the tasting"), and Clos des Brusquieres

Overall, based on this and few other 2010 tastings and reports, it appears that 2010 may be the vintage of the century across France (Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Loire), definitely for reds, perhaps comparable with 2005, perhaps even better, and potentially great for the whites as well. The prices on the 2010 Chateauneuf-du-Pape will notch a bit higher than 2009, unfortunately, but I believe that this is a vintage that will appeal to both old and new-world wine fans across the board. And it will age. Stock up, my friends!

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