The 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape from Paul-Vincent is going to be beauty! As is normal I was able to taste through numerous foudre of different blends, as well as a foudre of the final blend, all of the samples showed distinct, rich, even opulent profile, terrific purity and ripe backbones. The final cuvee shows the classic sweet core of fruit that’s the hallmark of this estate, as well as notable complexity in its peppery herbs, dried flowers, scorched earth and graphite aromas and flavors. This is a darker fruited cuvee than normal, and I suspect it’s going to rival the 2007 and 2010.
Yields are always low at Clos des Papes, but this was Vincent Avril's biggest harvest since 2007, with yields of 25hl/ha. A tasting of various different blends highlighted the part played by each main variety, but the final blend shows a young wine that is already aromatically harmonious, bright and detailed. It's fuller-bodied than an average vintage, deep yet fresh. It has a powerful tannic and acidic framework this year, but the wine is very well balanced and very long, with a sublime freshness. An effortlessly brilliant Clos des Papes. Drinking Window 2024 - 2040. (MW)
Vivid ruby-red. Ripe, intensely perfumed raspberry, blackberry, cherry pit and pungent flowers on the highly expressive, mineral- and spice-tinged nose. Juicy and seamless in texture, offering palate-staining yet graceful red and blue fruit liqueur and floral pastille flavors and an exotic suggestion of candied fennel. Delivers flavor intensity without excess weight and shows no rough edges. Closes sweet, sappy and extremely long, with smooth, slow-building tannins framing lingering red fruit preserve and floral notes. (JR)
Paul-Vincent Avril and I tasted his 2016 Chateauneuf du Pape from several different foudres, including number 30, which he said best approximated the final blend. It boasts everything you could ever want in a full-bodied red: complex garrigue and anise notes, a blend of cherry, peach and blueberry fruit, a lush, creamy texture and a long finish. With its power and concentration, it should age well for at least two decades. Because there are fewer wines to taste at Clos des Papes—Paul-Vincent Avril steadfastly produces only a single white and a single red Châteauneuf du Pape—there is more time to talk. "I love Burgundy," he says, and that preference is reflected in the wines. On the other hand, "Maturity for Grenache is never under 14.5%, but it's not at 16% or 17% for me." He also allows that it's not all about Grenache, saying that complexity comes from blending varieties and sites, which he often does in the same fermentation vats. There's no oak used for the whites because he feels the wines lose too much freshness. For the reds, it was instructive to taste through various foudres to see the differences that varietal makeup and site can have on the wines. He compares 2016 to 2010 and 1990, while 2015 he likens to 2005 and 1978. You won't be disappointed in whichever one you choose. (JC)
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