Bottled three weeks before my visit, the 2017 Chateauneuf du Pape Chante le Merle Vieilles Vignes is nevertheless impressive. Black raspberries are accented by hints of blood orange, cocoa and anise on the nose. Full-bodied, rich and packed with material, it's long and velvety on the finish, picking up notes of salted licorice. It's a terrific, age-worthy effort that should still be drinking well in 2035. (JC)
Brilliant ruby-red. Ripe black raspberry and cherry scents are accompanied by suggestions of candied licorice, lavender and garrigue. Sappy and broad in the mouth, offering concentrated bitter cherry, boysenberry and fruitcake flavors that steadily become sweeter with air. Clings with strong tenacity on the youthfully chewy finish, which features well-knit tannins and resonating cherry and floral notes. (JR)
Based on 86% Grenache and equal parts Syrah and Mourvèdre, not destemmed and brought up in foudre, demi-muids, and concrete tanks, she 2017 Châteauneuf Du Pape Chante Le Merle Vieilles Vignes is also terrific and has a textbook old-school style in its ground pepper and garrigue aromas and flavors, as well as sweet kirsch and currant fruits. Rich, medium to full-bodied, nicely concentrated, with present tannins, it doesn't have the elegance of the La Gloire de Mon Grand-Pere cuvée but has an exuberant personality that's going to benefit from 2-4 years of bottle age and evolve for over a decade. 94+
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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