Earlier this year, during the dark, cold months of February, I hopped on a speedy train to Montpellier to attend Vinisud 2014. An absolute must for any wine professional, it made me expect more of out every event I go to now.
As I mentioned in my summary, you need to go there with a purpose if you plan to cover any small part of the 1,300 wineries showing their stuff within the three days of the fair. I dug in heavily to Châteauneuf-du-Pape and in doing so, learned more about the region and always came back to share some bottles with sommelier and wine writing friends here in Catalonia to see how the French “do it” with many of the same grapes that the best Catalan wines are made from. Following are some of the results worth noting as they show a broad range of what Châteauneuf has to offer.
Julien Masquin Mémora 2011
Soft nose, touches of cocoa dust, white pepper, balsamic notes, and root vegetable. Fresh rainwater mixed with minerality. Fresh cherries. Smooth across the palate. Wild spices. Good deal of acidity in the finish. Gets smoother as it decants but overall is less defined than I’d like, but still a fine example and price for the region.
Grenache, Syrah 14.5% 20€
Domaine La Barroche 2011
Initially a touch lactic in the nose with red fruits, white pepper, orange blossoms. Very balanced in the mouth. Rich and smooth in to the finish. Earthy and full in to the finish. Smooths out wonderfully with air and is no end of expressive and complex with layer upon layer as you work your way through the bottle. Plus the young winemaker, Julien Barrot is a really pleasant fellow.
100% Grenache 15% 29€
Domaine Lafond Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2011
Cloves and wonderful spices and mineral notes to the nose. Pepper and floral notes as well as dark fruits. Smooth in the mouth with large tannins and spiciness that trails in to the finish with a touch of bitter almond. Could stand another 3-5 years in the bottle, but is damned fine and elegant now.
80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre 14% 32€
Ancestral Wine Cellar - Khikhvi 2014 95
First harvest of Khikhvi. Light apricot notes, peach skin, lemon peel. Citric in the mouth, fresh, lively acidity, vibrant. Very holistic, full and deliciously good.
100% Khikhvi · 12% · 30GEL
Petriaant Marani - Khikhvi 2015 94
Bruised red apple, touch of lemon peel, limestone minerality, and some white pepper notes at the back of it. High acidity and full in the mouth. Luscious, involving, elegant wine.
100% Khikhvi · 14% · 25GEL
Domaine Augustin - Adéodat Blanc 2016 93
Lemon and white peach, strong kick of salinity, and toasted notes. Very fleshy and full on the palate, peach notes more prominent as well as Meyer lemon, medium plus acidity and a lengthy finish.
100% Grenache Gris · 14.5% · 20EUR
AA Badenhorst - Secateurs Red Blend 2012 93
Forest bramble with ripe red fruit, touches of cherry, ripe red plum, tiny bit of prune, cumin, anise, black licorice, wet cement mineral note, underlying fig jam. Crisp medium plus acidity, medium tannins, medium plus length, medium alcohol, overall medium plus body that’s ripe and lively but super fresh and balanced at the same time. Bit of rugged wildness to it but doesn’t get out of hand. Easy to drink but with just enough underlying complexity so that it stays interesting.
56% Syrah 27% Cinsaut 6% Grenache 4% Cabernet Sauvignon 7% "Others" · 13.5% · 12EUR
Domaine Treloar - Motus 2015 93
Dark ruby, minor rim. Big, mighty bouquet of red cherry and other brambly forest fruit, vanilla, almond blossom, orange peel, and cocoa. Rich and full on the palate with a wealth of tannins still integrating, leading into a crunchy, lingering finish.
80% Mourvèdre 10% Syrah 10% Grenache · 14% · 14EUR
Domaine of the Bee - Cuvée 2015 93
Ruby with minor garnet rim. Rich red fruits with an underpinning of ripe plum, orange peel, licorice, cocoa. Broad, round tannins with a touch of toast and sweet cocoa in a long finish. Manages to stay very light on the palate despite the higher alcohol.
50% Grenache 50% Carignan · 15% · 25EUR
Tchotiashvili - Khikhvi 2014 93
Apricot, yellow peach, orange peel, and a touch of honey. Quite complex aromatically. Orchard fruit much more prevalent in the mouth with young apricot notes. Rich and elegant, touch of astringency in the finish.
100% Khikhvi · 13.1% · 28GEL
Domaine Augustin - Adéodat Rouge 2015 92
Medium ruby. Fresh red cherry, raspberry, and young strawberry, lifted and breathy, saline tinge along with light stoniness and rosemary and garrigue. Fresh red fruit on the palate, medium acidity but still light on the palate, fresh, and while the alcohol sticks out a little, holds and excellent, long finish.
Grenache Carignan Mourvèdre · 14.5% · 20EUR
Domaine Fontanel - Prieuré 2014 92
Dense ruby with brick flecks. Crisp red fruits, lifted by a waft of volatility making for a light nose with a spicy licorice and leather component. Crisp and lively with red cherry fruit in the mouth and a nudge over medium acidity. Nice, lingering finish.
50% Syrah 25% Grenache 25% Mourvèdre · 14.5%
Cave Abbé Rous - Cornet & Cie Blanc 2016 92
Peach, orange peel & blossom, honey, dried apricot, and a hint of green apple. Very nicely balance in the mouth, green apple notes more prevalent, medium plus acidity and a lengthy finish. Fresh, lively, very pleasing wine to drink.
60% Grenache Gris 25% Grenache Blanc 5% Marsanne 5% Roussanne 5% Vermentino · 14.5%