A remarkable effort, the blockbuster 2012 Châteauneuf du Pape Chante le Merle Vieilles Vignes comes close to the 2010 in terms of quality. Coming from a selection of the top plots and old vines of the estate, co-fermented, and with no destemming, it offers off-the-charts notes of cassis, chocolate-covered cherries, garrigue, licorice and toasted spice. Possessing massive richness and depth, with tons of glycerin, texture and length, it stays remarkably elegant, balanced and pure on the palate, with building tannin and yet no hard edges. This knockout Châteauneuf will have two decades of longevity and should not be missed! (JD)
Offers a dense core of dark plum and fig fruit, coated with baker's chocolate and smoldering tobacco notes. The finish hints at chestnut, bay, tar and pepper flavors. Shows excellent range and character, but needs some time to knit together. Best from 2016 through 2028. (JM)
Opaque ruby. Ripe, expansive blackberry and cherry scents are lifted and sharpened by peppery spices and smoky minerals. Juicy and broad on the palate, offering sweet dark fruit and floral pastille flavors that display unlikely energy and lift for their density. The smooth, sweet, smoky finish is framed by velvety, harmonious tannins. The label here reads 15.5% alcohol but I don't detect any undue heat. (JR)
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