Châteauneuf-du-Pape produced extra-ordinary reds in 2016: high quality, great extract, surprising freshness and great aging potential. The reputed oenologist Philippe Cambie stated that he had never seen this high quality grapes since he began his practice in 1998. With more acidity and better balance, the outstanding 2016 should outlive the excellent 2015 CDPs. In this superlative vintage, the Southern Rhône, but especially Châteauneuf, should satisfy the fan of rich, flavourful yet elegant reds.
At Les Conseillers du Vin, we decided to evaluate this highly publicised Châteauneuf vintage by tasting a selection of wines from reputed producers to verify the level of quality and aging potential. As usual a group of 15 experienced tasters analysed 7 Châteauneuf-du-Papes plus a mystery wine in the usual blind tasting format.
Results: To establish the order of preference of the tasting, 3 points were awarded to a first place vote, 2 pts for a 2nd place vote and 1pt for a 3rd place vote.
Since the 2015 Châteauneufs showed great concentration, ripeness and excellent potential, the 2016 vintage had a tough act to follow. The important question is how long should we age these 2016 Châteauneufs?
Almost all of the participants agreed, the 2016 Châteauneuf vintage is one of the best ever produced. Some experts have compared it to outstanding years such as 1998, 1983 and 1978! The aging potential is huge! Most wines should age favourably over the next 10 to 15 years. As mentioned in the introduction, the wines are deeply coloured, offer great concentration but remain balanced because of surprising acidity. The clearcut favourite wine of the group was La Guigasse from Domaine de Cristia (23 pts). Second and third place went to Xavier Vignon (in a more delicate style with 16 pts) and (a quite structured effort from) Tardieu Laurent (13 pts). The mystery wine, Cairanne from Domaine Richaud was identified as such by six (6) tasters. It did not fare well, as again six (6) participants classified it as a disappointment. It seemed to show winemaking flaws. Another surprise was the underperforming Clos des Papes (only 10 pts). My three (3) favourite wines were : 1- La Guigasse, Domaine de Cristia, 2- Tardieu Laurent 3- Cuvée Signature Domaine La Barroche. See my tasting notes below.
The wines : Order of blind tasting:
1-Clos des Papes (Group score: 10 pts) 138$
A very nice wine but seems to fall a bit short for this outstanding vintage. Deeply coloured. Seductive nose displaying some berry jam. Well balanced with soft acidity and velvety tannins. An elegant and charming Châteauneuf. But lacks a bit of depth. My rating: 90/100
2- Château de Nalys Cuvée Pierre de Nalys, (Guigal) (Group score: 12 pts) 68$
Slightly smoky with spicy/fruity scents. Good extract and volume with some balancing acidity. Good structure for prolonged aging (5 to 10 years). My rating: 91/100
3- Xavier Vignon (Group Score: 16 pts) 53$
Acting as a consultant for 20 years Xavier Vignon now produces, as a Négociant, his own wines. For the first time @Les Conseillers du Vin, his Châteauneuf faired very well. A rather discreet nose. Made in a very elegant medium bodied style. Easy drinking, enjoyable CDP. My rating: 90?/100
4- Clos du Mont Olivet (Group score: 2 pts) 55$
This cuvée Tradition shows much more depth and concentration than in previous vintages. Dark beery scents (blackberry, currant), with surprising extract and structure. Firm tannins for long aging (7 to 10 years). A solid effort! My rating: 92+/100
5- Domaine La Barroche Cuvée Signature (Group score: 11 pts) 67$
Also deeply coloured. Good volume and richness with lots of solid tannins for long term aging. Very charming velvety texture with lots of ripe fruit flavours and aromas. Lovely CDP to put in your cellar for the next 5 to 10 years. My rating: 93/100
6- Cairanne Domaine Richaud (Group score : 7 pts) 42$
The mystery wine of the tasting did not fare well. The peanut nose was an obvious warning that something was wrong! Was it a bad bottle or a winemaking flaw? Will need to try again. My rating: 89+?/100
7- Tardieu Laurent (Group score: 13 pts) 54$
Lots of ripe strawberry, almost jammy. In a very modern extracted style: ripe fruit, great volume and abundant tannins for long term aging (5 to 10 years). One of the three bargain wines of the tasting at only 54$! My rating: 93+/100
8- Domaine de Cristia La Guigasse (Group score: 23 pts) 99$
By far the favourite wine of the tasting. Lovely ripe berry nose. A seductive elegant CDP that offers good depth, great balance and obvious aging potential (5 to 10 years). A superb effort! My rating: 94/100