A very good vintage from a prestigious appellation that just celebrated its 20th anniversary! According to La Revue du Vin de France, the 1995 Châteauneuf-du-Pape vintage produced «lovely rich complex wines that are ready for drinking». When compared to recent vintages, the 95’s are charming more elegant wines that are surprisingly reminiscent of mature Burgundies from a warm vintage. Superb but lighter Châteauneufs that should satisfy the fan of «terroir expressive» wines. Twenty years later, at Les Conseillers du Vin, we decided to revisit the 1995 Châteauneuf vintage by tasting a selection of wines from reputed producers to verify the evolution of this excellent Southern Rhône vintage.
As usual a group of 16 experienced tasters analysed 8 Châteauneuf-du-Pape reds in theal blind tasting format. At this point we must keep in mind two important factors: 1-winemaking techniques have dramatically changed since the mid 90’s. 2-grapes today are harvested much riper. Wines from that era tend to be fresher, leaner and often more elegant. As mentioned earlier, in some instances, some evolved Châteauneufs can be reminiscent of mature red Burgundies.
Results: Is it time to open all remaining bottles of 95 reds CDPs or should we leave some for future drinking? To establish the order of preference of the tasting panel, 3 points were awarded to a first place vote, 2 pts for a 2nd place vote and 1pt for a 3rd place vote.
The majority of participants agreed that most of the wines were at their peak, with two wines (2 & 7) showing more evolution. There was no clear cut winner in this tasting, proof of this, five wines scored between 13 and 17 pts. The group’s favourites were Guigal (17 pts), Domaine du Pégau (15pts) and tied for third place with 14 pts were Château Mont-Redon and Domaine de la Janasse. The most 1st place votes went to Domaine du Pégau with only four (4) tasters choosing it as their favourite. For many participants it was quite surprising to see Guigal’s CDP coming on top, this may be explained by its ripe and supple character. According to my tasting notes, only one wine seemed too evolved: Château Fortia Tête de Cru. My top three wines were: 1-Château Mont-Redon, 2-Domaine du Pégau 3-Château de Beaucastel followed closely by Bosquet des Papes. See my tasting notes below.
The wines : Order of blind tasting:
1-DOMAINE DU PÉGAU CUVÉE RÉSERVÉE (Group score: 15 pts)
Evolved nose displaying forest floor earthy tones but still quite fruity. Surprisingly fresh and elegant, perfectly balanced, ready for drinking. Good length and complexity, Very charming easy drinking CDP. Amongst my favourites! My rating: 93/100
2-DOMAINE DE LA JANASSE CUVÉE CHAUPIN (Group score: 14 pts)
Showing lots of orange on the rim. Very evolved nose with forest floor, tar and a hint of coffee. Slightly off balance, lacks some acidity and finishes a bit on the heavy side with dry tannins. Maybe starting its decline? My rating: 89/100
3-BOSQUET DES PAPES CUVÉE CHANTEMERLE (Group Score: 6 pts)
Quite evolved nose displaying forest floor, tobacco and a hint of oxidation. Surprisingly the mouthfeel indicates the contrary: very structured wine with fresh acidity. Feels like a few more years would round it out; try this full bodied CDP in the next 2 to 4 years. My rating: 91+/100
4-E. GUIGAL (Group score: 17 pts)
Very evolved orange color. Lovely complex nose with some ripe fruit and forest floor scents. Ripe and ready to drink, this elegant CDP offers fresh acidity, supple tannins and good length. Well balanced and at its peak. The preferred wine of the group, but not by much! My rating: 90+/100
5-CHÂTEAU MONT-REDON (Group score: 14 pts)
My favourite wine of the tasting. This bottle supplied by the producer was received two months before the tasting. According to my notes, the Mont-Redon seemed younger and fresher. Still quite fruity with hints of terroir/forest floor. Full, ripe and velvety with good length and (still) some aging potential (3 to 5 years). Excellent! My rating: 93+/100
6-CHÂTEAU DE BEAUCASTEL (Group score : 13 pts)
Very deep colour with a slight orange rim. Nose still displays some spicy ripe red fruit scents. Very well balanced with fresh acidity and elegant tannins. Surprisingly soft and easy drinking for Beaucastel. Refined with good extract and length. Ready for drinking. My rating: 92+/100
7-CHÂTEAU FORTIA TÊTE DE CRU (Group score: 9 pts)
The most evolved wine of the tasting. Orange colour. Nose is very evolved reminiscent of a Tawny Port. Some oxidation with earthy forest floor scents. Might be be thinning out! Light and supple with a slightly short finish. Easy drinking. Not very complex. My rating: 88/100
8-CLOS DES PAPES (Group score: 2 pts)
Maybe not the best botlle? Some perceived a hint of cork. Good extract with some firm tannins. This highly reputed producer crafts some of the best CDPs. The finish is typically full and flavourful. Could probably continue to improve. Needs to be re-tasted. My rating: 90+?/100