Recently I attended a tasting of the Southern Rhone’s most iconic wine, Chateauneuf du Pape, brought in by Wines of France. One of the lessons I have learned in the wine business is that when you find an imported wine you like, check out the back label to see who’s responsible. I have a handful of importers whose track record I trust implicitly, and I’d add Wines of France to that list. (Look for Alain Junguenet Selection.)
This tasting was a mix of barrel and tank samples as well as finished wine. I have to admit that it’s not easy to evaluate wines in their youth. Some I find very accessible and open; others very tannic and mysterious. It’s tempting to reward the wines showing well early, but then a few years down the road the more stubborn wines might be the stars of the vintage. And though I gleaned a lot from this tasting, keep in mind these are impressions. Having said that, let’s get to work:
The Deals: Relative bargains (for CdP) that should arrive under $45.
- Domaine de la Charbonniere
- Chateau Fortia “Cuvée du Baron”
- Domaine Moulin-Tacussel “Tradition”
- Domaine Tour Saint Michel “Cuvée des Deux Soeurs”(very rich and mouth-filling)
- Cuvée du Vatican (a powerhouse)
Top Wines: Price be damned, these were my favorites.
- Bosquet des Papes “Cuvée Chante le Merle”
- Mas de Boislauzon “Quet”
- Domaine Tour Saint Michel “Cuvée du Lion”
- Cuvée du Vatican “Réserve Sixtine”
Most Unique Wine:
- Mas de Boislauzon “TINTO” (100% Mourvedre CdP; 1000% delicious.)
Most Impressive Lineup:
- Domaine Tour Saint Michel for the aforementioned bargain Cuvée des Deux Sours, the ultra-rich Cuvée du Lion, and the smoky, meaty “Féminessance.” (Cuvée du Vatican not far behind.)
- Domaine de la Charbonniere Vacqueyras: CdP-like quality, power, and distinction for under $30.