Moving to the grand vin, the 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape is backward and dense, with a huge mid-palate, notes of framboise, black cherries, roasted herbs, nori, and spice, a thick, opulent texture, and yet no sense of weight or heaviness. With ripe, polished tannin and a blockbuster finish, it might just be the greatest wine from this estate to date.
In contrast to the Piedlong, the 2016 Chateauneuf du Pape is a darker, richer wine. Yes, there are ripe cherries but also cola, blueberries and spice. Full-bodied and rich, it should easily outdistance the 2015. Daniel Brunier said that all of the estate's 2016 reds are 15.5% alcohol or more, yet I didn't find excessive heat in any of them—a testament to the richness of the wines and the balance achieved in this vintage. With similar growing seasons and yields between 2015 and 2016, Brunier says, "I don't know where comes the differences." The family's joint venture with American importer Kermit Lynch, Domaine Les Pallières, is also worth a strong look. (NM)
Lurid ruby-red. Potent, mineral-accented Chambord, cherry compote and licorice aromas are complicated by suave lavender and Asian spice qualities. Seamless, round and alluringly sweet, offering lush red and blue fruit preserve and floral pastille flavors and a hint of five-spice powder. Finishes sappy, sweet and extremely long, featuring velvety tannins and resonating florality. (JR)
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2016 Raymond Usseglio "Cuvée Impériale - Vignes Centenaires" Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Pre-Arrival)