Curiously the 2000 vintage of Châteauneuf-du-Pape did not impress experts from the outset. But lately it’s being ranked up there with the likes of reputed vintages such as 98-90 and 89. A superb Châteauneuf harvest that will celebrate its fifteenth birthday this year. The Revue du Vin de France described 2000 CDPs as «rich, powerful and generous reds» (19/20).
At Les Conseillers du Vin, we decided to revisit this 15 year old Châteauneuf vintage by tasting a selection of wines from reputed producers to verify the evolution of this excellent southern Rhône vintage that produced elegant, seductive, soft wines that impress with ripe, round flavours. As usual a group of 15 experienced tasters analysed 7 Châteauneuf-du-Papes plus a mystery wine in the usual blind tasting format.
Results: Is it time to crack open all remaining bottles of 2000 Châteauneuf 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.
Stuck in between two excellent vintages, 1998 and 2001, the 2000 harvest was originally evaluated as a good but not great vintage. With time the 2000 CDPs rounded out and showed great promise. Today most CDPs have reached their peak, but a few top cuvées still show potential to improve with a few more years of cellaring.
Most of the participants agreed that many of the wines were at their peak, and mentioned that they would have preferred them a bit younger. In fact some experts, and you can count me in that group, voice that Grenache dominated CDPs tend to offer more enjoyment younger than older. In other words, 10 years seems to be, for most, the perfect age to enjoy CDPs. Surprisingly the group’s favourite was the mystery wine: Côtes-du-Rhône Villages Domaine Gourt de Mautens (21 pts). This can be explained by the rich bold flavours and powerful tannins of this Jerome Bressy wine from Rasteau. Second and third place went to Clos des Papes (14 pts) and Bois de Boursan Cuvée des Félix (13 pts). These were also my 3 favourite wines but in a different order. See my tasting notes below.
The wines : Order of blind tasting:
1-Bois de Boursan, Cuvée des Félix (Group score: 13 pts)
Complex seductive nose displaying some berry jam, sweet spices and forest floor earthy tones. Beautifully balanced with soft acidity and velvety mature tannins. An elegant and charming Châteauneuf that could still age a few more years (3 to 5 years). Excellent! My rating: 94
2-Vieux Lazaret Cuvée Exceptionnelle (Group score: 7 pts)
Slightly smoky and spicy nose. In an elegant style with surprising fresh acidity. Good balance and structure guarantees a few more years (2 to 3) of aging potential. Good length. My rating: 91
3-Château de Beaucastel (Group Score: 7 pts)
In the past decade of Chateauneuf tasting @Les Conseillers du Vin, the regular cuvée from Beaucastel has not performed well and not lived up to its reputation. Funky nose with a bit of oxidation. Maybe a faulty bottle? Some ripe fruit. Medium bodied and length. My rating: 90?
4-Grand Veneur Les Origines (Group score: 10 pts)
This cuvée does have some aging potential left (4 to 6 years). Lovely complex nose offering some ripe fruit and forest floor scents. Good extract and structure. Well balanced with good length. My rating: 92
5-Côtes-du-Rhône Villages Rasteau, Domaine Gourt de Mautens (Group score: 21 pts)
The mystery wine of the tasting. Hints of ripe field berries with earthy tones. The biggest wine of the tasting: solid tannins, firm structure with full flavours that linger. A bit on the rustic side, needs more time (5 to 8 years). My rating: 93
6-Vieux Donjon (Group score : 7 pts)
A bit of a disappointing effort from this highly reputed producer. Vegetal, earthy and leathery scents. On the lighter side with good freshness and medium length. My rating: 89
7-Clos des Papes (Group score: 14 pts)
The second group favourite. Evolved nose displaying earthy, spicy and slightly jammy scents. Very elegant, velvety mouthfeel, great balance and very good length. Lovely Châteauneuf! My rating: 92
8-Font de Michelle (Group score: 8 pts)
The lightest wine of the tasting. Lovely evolved nose. A bit thin, lacks body and richness for a Châteauneuf. Reminiscent of an evolved Pinot from Burgundy. Simple and enjoyable. Ready now, will not get better. My rating: 88