The full-bodied 2016 Chateauneuf du Pape is a solid effort. Blueberry, cherry and garrigue notes mark the nose, while the palate is firm but silky, with a fine balance between ripeness and grip. I've seen some internet criticism of this estate for moving to a riper, more modern style, but I don't understand that—unless good cellar hygiene is now considered a problem in certain circles. This is a relatively traditional, balanced example of Châteauneuf, with spicy, savory elements combined with generous fruit. A blend of 75% Grenache, 10% each Mourvèdre and Syrah and 5% Cinsault that weighs in at 14.8% alcohol, this foudre-aged wine should drink well for a couple of decades. It was a delight to visit Claire Michel and her brother, François Michel, at this family domaine in the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Both of their parents owned vineyards, so it's a decent-sized estate, with 16 hectares of vines (including a single hectare of white varieties). The first estate bottling took place in 1967, so the 2016 represents the 50th vintage. When François said the vintage is "a mix of 2009 and 2010," Claire chimed in to say, "Round like 2009," and François finished with "Structured like 2010." The white is a blend of Clairette and Roussanne that sees only stainless steel and never undergoes malolactic fermentation. The red is partially destemmed, fermented in concrete and aged in foudres. No 2008 was available for tasting, but I was offered the 2015 and 2010. I may have slightly
Fermented in concrete, then aged in foudre. No Cuvée Spéciale produced, just one wine. It's not terribly expressive on the nose at the moment. The palate is full and firm, a touch hard and tannic, though it should soften in time. Lovely weight and intensity though, showing real concentration and intensity of fruit, with a long finish. A muscular wine with real savoury thrust. Drinking Window 2020 - 2031. (MW)
This offers a blitz of bay leaf and juniper notes out front, followed by a racy and tightly coiled core of red and black currant, damson plum and cherry fruit flavors. Lots of brisk iron and garrigue accents rifle through the finish. Clear, precise and streamlined, this should age wonderfully. (JM)
Sister-brother team Claire Michel Fabre and François Michel have run this estate together since 2012, taking over from their father, the legendary Lucien Michel. Working with 40 acres of vines, some planted as far back as 1900, they’ve turned out an exceptional 2016. Mostly grenache, blended with a range of the other 12 red and white varieties allowed in the appellation, it unfurls like silk across the palate. First come the cherry notes, red and black combined; then come scents of rosemary, sunburnt scrub and warm rocks that fill the wine with a deep savor. The tannins are firm and polished, giving shape to a wine that keeps offering new dimensions, and promises to hold well for another 10 or 20 years.
Vivid ruby-red. An exotically perfumed, expressive nose evokes ripe cherry and black raspberry, and cola, licorice and floral pastille notes add complexity. Shows impressive depth as well as energy on the palate, offering sweet dark fruit, lavender and spicecake flavors supported by a spine of juicy acidity. In a suave, graceful style for the vintage, showing outstanding clarity and a sexy floral nuance on the strikingly long finish, which features harmonious tannins and a sneaky mineral quality. (JR)
The 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape is unquestionably the greatest wine made from this estate to date and surpasses the 1998, 2007, and 2010. Checking in as a normal blend of 75% Grenache, 10% each of Syrah and Mourvèdre, and the balance Cinsault, it offers a heavenly bouquet of blackcurrants, ground pepper, new saddle leather, garrigue, and an assortment of exotic spices. Deep, full-bodied, incredibly concentrated, yet with the purity, elegance, and finesse that makes this vintage so special, it can be drunk any time over the coming two decades or more. Bravo!
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