2009 vintage Châteauneuf-du-Pape: cask and barrel samples


John Junguenet, Vice President at Alain Junguenet Selection

2009 CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE CASK AND BARREL SAMPLES – Beltramo’s Wines and Spirits, Menlo Park, California (4/5/2011)

This was a delightful evening tasting event at Beltramo’s, where they periodically do large, evening walk-around tastings of popular types of wine, like Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Cali Pinots, in addition to their weekly Saturday afternoon tastings. I very much enjoyed most of the wines, and am looking forward to tasting more ’09s as they become available. These were all cask, or barrel, samples that were prepared for showing to trade representatives. Beltramo’s arranged this special tasting for consumers. The importer for all of the producers in this tasting is Wines of France, Inc./Alain Junguenet Selection. John Junguenet, pictured above, was on hand for the tasting, as was one of the winemakers, Veronique Bernet, of Domaine de la Charbonnière. A brief video clip of Veronique talking about the 2009 vintage appears below.

Advance reports on the results of the 2009 vintage from growers and winemakers in Châteauneuf-du-Pape have been glowing, including comparisons to such illustrious vintages as 1978. A cold and wet winter and spring were followed by very dry and warm conditions, with virtually no rainfall from June through August. There was also a two-week hot spell during August that accelerated ripening, resulting in more concentrated, smaller berries. Rains in mid-September helped extend the growing season so that ripening continued through to harvest. From our sample of 31 bottlings at this tasting, the fruit is ripe and concentrated without being overripe. There’s balance, with alcohol levels and acidity at reasonable levels, and sweet tannins that provide structure, but not the extreme tannins of ’07.

There were a number of luxury cuvées–higher priced bottlings based, typically, on grapes from very old vine Grenache, or a barrel selection of the best, most expressive barrels–included in this tasting, and most of them were quite impressive. This was also an opportunity, for me, to sample wines from producers whose wines are not often seen in California, such as Domaine Albin Jacumin, Moulin-Tacussel, Pontifical and Tour Saint-Michel. Château Fortia, one of the oldest domaines in the appellation, is another producer whose wines occasionally make it to the West Coast, but one rarely gets to taste virtually the whole lineup as we did on this evening.

I’m a big fan of white Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which makes up only about seven percent of the production from this appellation. We sampled four CdP Blancs in this tasting, and the best were the Pierre Usseglio and the Charbonnière. My very favorite wines in the tasting, with a score of 93+ points or more, were:
Bosquet des Papes Tradition – 93+ points
Bosquet des Papes A la Gloire de mon Grand-Père – 95 points
Bosquet des Papes Chante Le Merle Vieilles Vignes – 93+ points
Domaine de la Charbonnière Cuvée Spéciale Les Hautes Brusquières – 94 points
Cuvée du Vatican Réserve Sixtine – 95+ points
Château Fortia Cuvée du Baron – 93+ points
Mas de Boislauzon Cuvée du Quet – 93+ points
Domaine Olivier Hillaire Les Petits Pieds d’Armand – 93+ points
Domaine Pierre Usseglio & Fils Cuvée de mon Aïeul – 94 points

Here’s the clip of Veronique Bernet of Domaine de la Charbonnière talking about the 2009 vintage:

For more details about the wines and producers, as well as my tasting notes, see below. I am indebted to Harry Karis’s invaluable The Châteauneuf-du-Pape Wine Book for many of the facts and dates in the following brief producer summaries.

Albin Jacumin


The Jacumin family are longtime growers in the region. They established the Domaine La Bégude Des Papes (Alain Jacumin) in 1991, but when the CdP Federation objected to their use of this name with its inclusion of “Papes” on their bottlings of Côtes du Rhône wine, they changed the name to Domaine Albin Jacumin. They own 16.25 hectares of vines scattered throughout the appellation. The ’09 cépage of their single red CdP bottling is shown below. The Mourvèdre and Syrah are vinified together with a portion of the Grenache. The grapes are destemmed. The wine is aged for six to eight months in 80% concrete tanks and 20% new to three-year old barrels.

  • 2009 Domaine Albin Jacumin Châteauneuf-du-Pape La Begude Des Papes – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
    Barrel sample – dark red violet color; garrigue, roasted berry, ripe berry, kirsch nose; tight, ripe berry, tart berry, garrigue, red berry palate, needs 2-3 years; medium-plus finish 91+ points (80% Grenache, with Syrah and Mourvedre) (91 pts.)

Bosquet des Papes


This was my single favorite lineup of wines in the tasting. The name of this, one of the older producers of the appellation, was Clos Chantemerle until it was changed to Bosquet des Papes in 1966. Their wines are made in a traditional style, with long, four-to-five week, macerations and fermentations, and aging in large foudres and 600-liter Russian oak demi-muids for one to two years. They own about 27 hectares of vines scattered amongst 40 different plots. The Chante le Merle bottling has been made since 1990, with grapes that are not destemmed, from vines that are over 90 years old. The la Gloire de mon Grand-Père cuvée has been made since 1998 primarily from Grenache vines (98%) that are 70 to 100 years old.

  • 2009 Bosquet des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Tradition – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
    Barrel sample – medium dark red violet color; poised, ripe plum, fig, black fruit nose; tasty, rich, tight, black fruit, tar, charcoal, garrigue palate; medium-plus finish 93+ points (93 pts.)
  • 2009 Bosquet des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape A la Gloire de mon Grand-Père – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
    Barrel sample – dark red violet color; complex, spicy, garrigue, pepper, dried berry, roasted berry nose; very tasty, poised, garrigue, dried berry, tart berry, charcoal palate, tasty now but could use 2-3 years; long finish (98% old vine Grenache) (95 pts.)
  • 2009 Bosquet des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape Chante Le Merle Vieilles Vignes – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
    Barrel sample – very dark red violet color; red berry, dried berry, tar, chocolate nose; tight, chocolate, dried berry, garrigue, tar palate with firm tannins; medium-plus finish 93+ points (80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre) (93 pts.)

Charbonnière


This was an excellent lineup from an estate that was created in 1978, based on vineyards originally purchased by the Maret family in 1912. They own 17.5 hectares of vines located in several vineyards in the eastern and northern areas of the appellation. According to Harry Karis’s The Châteauneuf-du-Pape Wine Book, “Since the year 2000, all the grapes are destemmed and crushed before being separately fermented according to grape variety in stainless steel and oak vats.” The wine is aged in vat, foudres and small barrels for a year to a year and a half, depending on the vintage. The Mourre des Perdrix cuvée comes from grapes grown in the eastern area of the appellation, on a plateau of clay and sandy marl. The Hautes Brusquières bottling is based on Grenache and Syrah grown on the Brusquières plateau in the northern part of the appellation, from vines that are 30 to over 50 years old.

  • 2009 Domaine de la Charbonnière Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
    Barrel sample – light green tinged yellow color; nice ripe lemon, vanilla nose; tasty, poised, ripe lemon, crisp and minerally palate; medium-plus finish (40% Grenache Blanc, 40% Roussanne, 20% Clairette) (92 pts.)
  • 2009 Domaine de la Charbonnière Châteauneuf-du-Pape – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
    Barrel sample – medium dark red violet color; high pitched dried berry, red berry, garrigue nose; tight, tart berry, garrigue, red berry palate, needs 2-3 years; medium-plus finish (70% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 15% Mourvedre) (92 pts.)
  • 2009 Domaine de la Charbonnière Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Mourre des Perdrix – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
    Barrel sample – dark red violet color; deep red berry, dried berry, garrigue nose with high notes; tight, tart berry, dried berry, ripe plum, chocolate palate, needs 3-4 years; medium-plus finish (93 pts.)
  • 2009 Domaine de la Charbonnière Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Spéciale Les Hautes Brusquières – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
    Barrel sample – dark purple red violet color; focused, rich, berry, lavender, floral nose; tight, rich, ripe berry, ginger cake, tar palate, needs 5-plus years; long finish 94+ points (60% Grenache, 39% Syrah and less than 1% Counoise) (94 pts.)

Clos des Brusquière

This was the weakest wine in the lineup, and it may have been faulty in some way–bacteria causing the VA?–that I couldn’t immediately identify. They weren’t really pouring it for the tasting, but since it’s a producer I don’t see very often, I asked to sample it. The family that started bottling their wine under this domaine name in 1996 goes back three generations growing grapes in the appellation. Their vines average 75 years old, with some as old as over 100 years.

  • 2009 Clos des Brusquières Châteauneuf-du-Pape – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
    Barrel sample – medium dark red violet color; VA, red berry nose; odd, thin, red berry, hibiscus palate with firm tannins; medium finish (83 pts.)

Côte de l’Ange


I first started seeing this producer’s wines in Northern California about three years ago. The estate was established by Monique and Jean-Claude Mestre in 1972 and is currently run by their daughter Corinne and her husband Yannick Gasparri. The domaine owns 13.5 hectares in various locations, 1.5 of which are planted to white grapes. The regular bottling is aged for a year in foudres. Older Grenache vines, over 70 years old, are the source of the Vieilles Vignes, which is aged for nine to 12 months, partly in foudres and partly in aged barriques.

  • 2009 Domaine de la Côte de l’Ange Châteauneuf-du-Pape – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
    Barrel sample – dark purple red violet color; nice, deep, dried berry, red berry, garrigue nose; tight, tasty, spicy cherry, berry palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (70% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre, 10% Syrah) (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Domaine de la Côte de l’Ange Châteauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
    Barrel sample – very dark puprle red violet color; nice, ripe berry, baked berry, baked plum, baking spice, chocolate nose; tight, tart berry, ripe plum, pepper palate, needs 4-5 years; long finish (80% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre) (93 pts.)

Cuvée du Vatican


This is a reliable producer in a more modern style, making more use of new oak, particularly for the Réserve Sixtine. The Diffonty family that owns the estate has been in the appellation for centuries, and they first started producing CdP under this name in 1902. Fifth generation Jean-Marc Diffonty is the current winemaker, who added a lot of modern touches to production, including small stainless steel fermentation vats. They own 22.4 hectares in 10 different plots, 5.1 hectares of which are in the Rayas lieu-dit and 1.5 in La Crau. They started destemming all grapes in 2001. The regular bottling is aged for about a year in neutral foudres and smaller barrels. The Réserve Sixtine is an old vine blend, produced since 1998, that is aged for a year partly in new barrels and partly in neutral foudres.

  • 2009 Cuvée du Vatican Châteauneuf-du-Pape – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
    Barrel sample – dark ruby red color; beets, dried berry, pepper, garrigue nose; tasty, tight, pepper, tart black fruit, tar palate, needs 2-plus years; medium-plus finish 92+ points (92 pts.)
  • 2009 Cuvée du Vatican Châteauneuf-du-Pape Réserve Sixtine – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
    Barrel sample – dark red violet color; rich, dried berry, herbs, garrigue nose; very tasty, tight, but rich, dried berry, garrigue, herbs, ripe black fruit palate with complexity; long finish 95+ points (55% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 15% Mourvedre) (95 pts.)

Fortia


Château Fortia is one of the oldest producers in the appellation, with a storied history. They are mentioned in an 1822 book of France’s great vineyards by A. Jullien, along with Château de la Nerthe. Baron Pierre Le Roy de Boiseaumarie, a former fighter pilot and World War I hero who had studied law, married into the family that owned the estate in 1919. The estate is still owned and managed by his descendants. Baron Le Roy was a co-founder of the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine (INAO) and very instrumental in the establishment of Châteauneuf-du-Pape as France’s first appellation d’origine contrôlée in the 1930s. The Le Roy family’s home on a hillside southeast of the town of Châteauneuf-du-Pape is surrounded by a 30-hectare vineyard they own. Traditional methods of vinification and aging, in foudres, are used. The Cuvée du Baron, launched in 2001, is a blend from older vines. The Reserve cuvée was first made in 2006, and it is a very unusual Syrah dominated blend, from a two-hectare plot of now 15-year-old Syrah vines. I found both of these luxury cuvées quite delicious.

  • 2009 Château Fortia Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
    Barrel sample – very light green-tinged yellow color; reticent, lime, pear nose; tight, soft pear palate with lowish acidity; medium finish (70% Grenache Blanc, 30% Clairette) (89 pts.)
  • 2009 Château Fortia Châteauneuf-du-Pape – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
    Barrel sample – medium dark purple red violet color; nice licorice, garrigue, dried berry, tar nose; tight, rustic, tart berry, garrigue, pepper palate, needs 1-2 years; medium-plus finish (60% Grenache, 40% Syrah) (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Château Fortia Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée du Baron – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
    Barrel sample – dark purple red violet color; nice ripe plum, berry, baked berry, spice, blueberry nose; tight, tart berry, roasted plum, garrigue, baked berry palate; medium-plus finish 93+ points (45% Grenache, 40% Syrah, 15% Mourvedre) (93 pts.)
  • 2009 Château Fortia Châteauneuf-du-Pape Reserve – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
    Barrel sample – dark purple red violet color; deep, rich, baked berry, baked plum nose; tight, ripe black fruit, garrigue, pepper, baked black fruit, chocolate palate; long finish (85% Syrah, 15% Grenache) (93 pts.)

Mas de Boislauzon


This domaine owns nine hectares of vineyards located in five different lieux-dits in the northern part of the appellation. The red grapes are normally not destemmed. The regular bottling is aged in cement tanks and neutral foudres. They make two special cuvées, of which we tried the one that is a Grenache dominated blend with Mourvèdre. The other cuvée, which we didn’t get to try at this tasting, is made of 100% old vine Mourvèdre.

  • 2009 Mas de Boislauzon Châteauneuf-du-Pape – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
    Barrel sample – very dark red violet color; nice, tart berry, dried berry, chocolate nose; tasty, concentrated, rich, ripe berry, black fruit palate, needs 2-plus years; medium-plus finish (92 pts.)
  • 2009 Mas de Boislauzon Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée du Quet – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
    Barrel sample – dark purple red violet color; focused, ripe berry, wild berry, blackberry nose; tasty, ripe berry, blackberry, wild berry palate with depth; medium-plus finish 93+ points (80% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre) (93 pts.)

Moulin-Tacussel

This was a new producer to me, and I was underwhelmed with their ’09s. They own 7.85 hectares of vines spread across the appellation, and produce these three wines. The grapes are all destemmed. The regular red sees a year in foudres and smaller oak barrels. The Henry Tacussel cuvée is made primarily from Grenache vines that are over 100 years old. It’s aged for 12 to 15 months in barriques, some of which are new.

  • 2010 Domaine Moulin-Tacussel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
    Barrel sample – light yellow color; tart green apple, cider nose; tight, tart green apple, ripe lime palate; medium finish (40% Roussanne, 30% Grenache Blanc, 10% Clairette, 10% Picpoul) (88 pts.)
  • 2009 Domaine Moulin-Tacussel Châteauneuf-du-Pape – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
    Barrel sample – dark cherry red color; a little carbonic maceration, ripe plum, berry nose; soft, ripe berry, pepper palate with lowish acidity; medium-plus finish (70% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, 10% other varietals) (88 pts.)
  • 2009 Domaine Moulin-Tacussel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Hommage à Henry Tacussel – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
    Barrel sample – medium dark red violet color; oak, herbal, black fruit nose; soft, ripe black fruit, herbal, oak palate; medium finish (100% Grenache, destemmed) (87 pts.)

Olivier Hillaire

This newish producer started in 2006 with part of the vineyards, 3.5 hectares, that used to belong to Domaine des Relanges, which Olivier Hillaire acquired from his former father-in-law, the former owner of Relanges. The special cuvée was particularly good, and it is 100% Grenache from a 1.8 hectare parcel of La Crau that was planted in 1898. It is aged for 12 to 16 months both in tank and demi-muids.

  • 2009 Domaine Olivier Hillaire Châteauneuf-du-Pape – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
    Barrel sample – medium dark cherry red color; herbs, bay leaf nose; soft, tart black fruit, bay leaf, herbs palate, needs 1-2 years; medium-plus finish (90% Grenache, 5% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre) (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Domaine Olivier Hillaire Châteauneuf-du-Pape Les Petits Pieds d’Armand – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
    Barrel sample – dark cherry red color; appealing, ripe Grenache, spicy cherry, plum, ginger cake nose; rich, appealing, dried berry, spicy berry, ginger cake, blackberry palate; medium-plus finish 93+ points (100% Grenache planted in 1898) (93 pts.)

Pierre Usseglio


Pierre Usseglio is a very reliable name for wines made largely in a traditional style. Pierre established his domaine in 1966, after having managed the vineyard for his father’s estate, which the father had started in 1949. Pierre’s brother Raymond also subsequently established his own domaine. Pierre’s sons Jean-Pierre and Thierry Usseglio have been in charge of Domaine Pierre Usseglio since 1999. They now own 22 hectares in 15 lieux-dits. All red grapes are destemmed since 2001. The regular bottling is aged for 18 to 24 months in foudres. The Cuvée de mon Aïeul, named in honor of the brothers’ grandfather Francis Usseglio, was launched in 1998. It is based on grapes from three lieu-dits, including a two-hectare vineyard in Les Serres planted in 1926. It is aged in concrete tanks.

  • 2009 Domaine Pierre Usseglio & Fils Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
    Barrel sample – light lemon yellow color; ripe, guava, green melon nose; tasty, ripe, rich, tart green melon, guava, lime palate; medium-plus finish (70% Grenache Blanc, 20% Clairette, 10% Bourboulenc) (93 pts.)
  • 2009 Domaine Pierre Usseglio & Fils Châteauneuf-du-Pape – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
    Barrel sample – medium dark ruby red color; garrigue, white pepper nose; tasty, ripe, tight, berry, garrigue, tart black fruit, lavender palate; medium-plus finish (80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre, 5% Cinsault) (93 pts.)
  • 2009 Domaine Pierre Usseglio & Fils Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée de mon Aïeul – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
    Barrel sample – medium dark cherry red color; nice beet, licorice, dried berry, ginger cake nose; tasty, rich, dried berry, ginger cake, tart black fruit, garrigue palate, needs 2-3 years; medium-plus finish (95% Grenache, 5% Syrah) (94 pts.)

Pontifical

I had only had one older bottling from this domaine prior to this tasting. The Laget family has been making wine in the appellation since the late 1800s, and bottling their own wines since the 1920s. They own 17 hectares of vineyards in 30 plots located throughout the appellation. The regular bottling, which we sampled, is aged for a year in foudres. They also launched an old vine Grenache cuvée in 2007 called Les Vieilles Vignes d’Albert.

  • 2009 Domaine Pontifical Châteauneuf-du-Pape – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
    Barrel sample – medium dark purple red violet color with clarity; ginger cake, ripe plum nose; soft, ripe plum, tart black fruit palate with grippy tannins; medium-plus finish 88+ points (75% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre, 5% Cinsault, 5% Counoise) (88 pts.)

Tour Saint-Michel

This is a new producer to me, though they were first established in 1930. They own over 36 hectares of vineyards in the southern part of the appellation, most of which are planted to red grapes with an average vine age of 40 years. The grapes are entirely destemmed and fermented in concrete tanks before aging in a mix of tanks, foudres and barriques. The Deux Soeurs is their traditional cuvée. The Tour du Lion was first made in 2003. The Feminessence is the newest cuvée, since 2007, and is aged for a year in oak barrels, some of which are new. It was the weakest of this lineup for me, due to grapes that were too ripe, and obtrusive new oak flavors.

Vieux Donjon


This is a very traditional producer that makes only one red bottling. I tend to like their wines very much, but they take quite a bit of time for their usually big tannins to soften, and this ’09 is no exception to that rule. The grapes are mostly destemmed, and, except for the Mourvèdre, the grapes are vinified together and then spend a year and a half, generally, in foudres.

  • 2009 Le Vieux Donjon Châteauneuf-du-Pape – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
    Barrel sample – dark purple red violet color; a little reduction, tart red plum, tart berry nose; tight, deep black fruit, tar, charcoal palate with firm tannins, needs 5-plus years; medium-plus finish (80% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre, 10% Syrah) (93 pts.)

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2 Responses to 2009 vintage Châteauneuf-du-Pape: cask and barrel samples

  1. I went to a similar tasting at Jardiniere in SF.

    One wine really stood out to me, the 2009 Cuvée du Vatican Réserve Sixtine. It was, hmm, compelling, compared to the rest.

  2. J.R. Young says:

    Good to hear on Reserve Sixtine. I have several vintages and have found it to be a very good value and under the radar while the Pegaus and Clos de Papes have skyrocketed in price and rating over the past few years.

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