The 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape is another smoking good wine that delivers terrific elegance and purity. Black cherries, black raspberries, crushed rocks, dried earth and loads of spice flow to a full-bodied, balanced, impeccably textured red that has fine tannin, integrated acidity, and a big finish. It's a big rich wine that’s never over the top or cumbersome. Clos du Caillou, under the helm of the Vacheron family, with Bruno Gaspard as winemaker and Philippe Cambie as consultant, continues to release a bevy of brilliant Côtes du Rhônes and Châteauneuf du Papes. As I wrote last year, the style has shifted slightly towards the more elegant side of the spectrum and apparent with the 2015s, which at times had me wishing for slightly more density and breadth, especially with the top cuvees. Nevertheless, the wines are brilliant and the 2015 vintage as a whole is a more streamlined, elegant vintage. The 2016s appear to be a return to wines with more oomph, density, and depth, and I think are a clear step up.
A textbook effort, the 2016 Chateauneuf du Pape offers notions of red and black cherries, a rich, velvety mouthfeel and lashings of clove and allspice on the finish. It looks to be a step up from the 2015. This substantial estate totals 60 hectares in total, although only nine lie within Châteauneuf-du-Pape, concentrated in the sandier soils of the appellation's northeastern sector. On my visit, it was great to meet the young Marilou Vacheron, back to join the family estate after five years of business school, and the longtime (since 2002) winemaker Bruno Gaspard. The vineyards have been certified organic since 2010. Gaspard compares the 2016s to 2010 or 2005, he says, 'but better.'(JC)
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