Deep red. Heady, mineral-accented aromas of ripe red berries and incense are spiced up by a zesty white pepper nuance. Sweet raspberry and floral pastille flavors show impressive vivacity and focus, and a mineral nuance emerges with air. The floral element comes back strongly on the very long, incisive finish, which is framed by subtle, slow-mounting tannins. (JR)
The Grenache-dominated 2014 Châteauneuf du Pape Les Safres (there’s 5% of Mourvèdre, Vaccarèse and Cinsault) is a sweetly fruited, layered, medium-bodied beauty that has sweet, sweet tannin (which isn’t a given in the vintage), lots of strawberry and blackberry fruit, plenty of Provençal spice, and a beautiful finish. Again, it won’t be the longest-lived effort out there, but man, does it do well in the vintage. The Vacheron family, along with winemaker Bruno Gaspard and assistant Aude Perche, as well as superstar Oenologist Philippe Cambie, continue to keep Domaine du Clos du Caillou one of the leading estates in Châteauneuf du Pape. These wines always show a more elegant, polished style, with plenty of fruit, yet have gorgeous Southern Rhône characters, sweet tannin and serious length. In addition, they fashion some of the most incredible Côtes du Rhônes out there. As to the vintages reviewed here, the 2014s are easily some of the wines of the vintage, showing tons of charm, incredibly sweet tannin and hard to resist characters. The 2015s are certainly a step up, but in a few cases I felt the wines were shifted too much towards the finesse-driven end of the spectrum and could have used a touch more density. Nevertheless, as the scores and notes show, these are killer wines I wish every Southern Rhône lover could try. (JD)
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