I was blown away by the prodigious fruit in the 2017 Chateauneuf du Pape Chante le Merle Vieilles Vignes. Quantities are only maybe half of the 2016, so you can imagine how concentrated and rich this baby is. Waves of raspberry and cherry fruit are seductive on the nose, then crash over the palate with a tsunami of concentration and power. If time in the cellar can coax some additional elegance out of the wine, it could be a candidate for perfection. At Bosquet des Papes, I tasted with the larger-than-life, fifth-generation owner, Nicolas Boiron. Standing out for his size and outgoing personality, he's a true character, not afraid to speak his mind. The Boiron family farms 27 hectares in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and five hectares in Côtes du Rhône, sold under the Domaine Nicolas Boiron label. Philippe Cambie has been a consultant since 2005. Boiron said 2017 is a very good year but with lower quantity. 'There's more structure than in 2016,' he said. The wines here seem to be going from strength to strength, with quality inching up nearly every vintage and prices still reasonable given the fairly large volumes involved. This is a property to buy from before pricing jumps. (JC)
More traditional notes of sandalwood, garrigue, pepper, and assorted red and black fruits emerge from the 2017 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Chante Le Merle Vieilles Vignes. It’s the normal blend of mostly Grenache with small amounts of Syrah and Mourvèdre, fermented with no destemming and aged mostly in foudre. With full body, a layered, balanced texture, and moderate tannins, it’s going to be relatively approachable on release yet have two decades of overall longevity. The gregarious Nicolas Boiron continues to produce an incredible lineup of wines that span the gamut from staunchly traditional in style, with plenty of stems and mostly concrete tanks aging, to close to 100% Grenache cuvées that are destemmed and aged in small amounts of new oak. Regardless, the wines today are impeccably made and show classic Southern Rhône characters. It’s worth noting that while the wines have always been solid, the quality soared around the 2010 vintage and today this estate unquestionably produces some of the top wines in the appellation.
A selection of fruit from 80- to 90-year-old vines across different Châteauneuf terroirs, with no destemming. This is fermented in concrete then aged for 15 months in a combination of foudres, demi-muids and concrete. Notes of baked forest fruits, cedar and incense lead to a ripe but perky palate with good acidity and a sense of freshness and liveliness. The tannins are robust but ripe - all the components are in place to suggest a long life. The alcohol is high but it doesn't taste overly unbalanced. Drinking Window 2021-2028. (MW)
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