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Sunday, November 09, 2008

Clos des Papes, Chateauneuf du Pape Personified

I had some thoughts on Clos des Papes during a recent vertical tasting that spanned vintages from ’69 to ’05 that are beginning to come to fruition, thanks to a bit of a catalyst from tasting the fabulous 2006.

If I had to choose just one wine to represent its appellation in all its glory, complexity and finesse, it would have to be Clos des Papes. The blend includes just about every red variety allowed under the A.O.C. sun and undergoes an unadorned, old fashioned fermentation and elevage. The wine demonstrates the heights of what a naked, terroir driven expression of old vines can achieve when coupled w/ miniscule yields and brilliant blending. Power and finesse, unraveling beautifully in the cellar to unfold layer after layer like a Grand Cru Burgundy. I know the price escalation and Wine of the Year ballyhoo have dampened the spirits of this Rhone stalwart’s fans, but I truly believe it is an ambassador of Chateauneuf du Pape, continuing to go from strength to strength. Is there a more consistent performer in the 21st century than Clos des Papes? Is there another producer that can coax such harmony from their reds and whites from what are essentially field blends? Two wines and two wines only, one red, one white; using every varietal tool at their disposal, yet virtually no high tech gadgetry in the cellar. They are pure, classic Chateauneuf du Pape wines that represent more than just first growth quality, they represent the essence of the appellation.

I am not an apologist for their pricing or a defender of its publicity. I am just an admirer of the appellation and I find Clos des Papes to embody all that makes Chateauneuf du Pape great. I can’t drink as much of it as I’d like, but I certainly cherish each opportunity I get to savor this liquid treasure.

The inspiration:

Clos des Papes ‘06
This is an atypically structured, powerhouse of an ’06 (not unlike the ’04), w/ a brooding purple color and an exceptionally closed, backward bouquet of violet, lavender, crème de cassis, kirsch liqueur and rose petals. The wine has a hauntingly pure, opulent sensibility in the mouth, cramming fabulous layers of bittersweet cocoa dusted flavors from cheek to cheek in a full bodied, tannic, multi-dimensional fashion. This is a seriously endowed, beautifully proportioned young C los des Papes that has the sinew of the ’05 allied to the fruit of the ’00 and should prove to be one of the longest lived wines of the vintage, 97 points.

Can any of you think of other wines that you would choose to represent an appellation?


Blogger cellar rat said...

I'm a big fan as well Brad. But Clos des Papes is the exception in many circles, (unfortunately)not the rule. As for the 07, were you fortunate enough to grab some of these for laying down? I'm hoping they are at the domaine still in Feb09

Wednesday, November 12, 2008  
Blogger Brad Coelho said...

to me, it embodies the class and finesse of great Chateauneuf du Pape...subjectively it reminds me of the region's pedigree....just one of those 'if I had one wine to show to someone so they could see what this region is all about at its finest and most pure, this would be it,' type wines :)

Wasn't able to grab any '07s unfortunately...obviously not a case purchase for my feeble back account but something I have to get my hands on in any quantity possible- absolutely stellar stuff. Are you going to see the Avrils?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008  
Blogger cellar rat said...

I totally agree on the part about introducing someone to the region. Everything considered with an underlined 'awesome consistency'. And, the writeup is certainly thought provoking and well written. I just know way too little about this region, with just too little experience. I've had quite a few Clos des Papes and I can't let go of the thought wonderful thought that I haven't seen anything else.

When we go to France I do intend to visit the Avrils. But, I wish I had an in with them. Come to think of it, I'll drop them an email. When will you be back there again?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008  
Blogger Brad Coelho said...

I'm not sure yet- depends on the new jobby job. Want me to ask their importer if you can meet up?

Thursday, November 13, 2008  
Blogger cellar rat said...

Brad, that would be amazing! I'd certainly appreciate it. And, we need to hang out when I am in your neck of the woods as well. Good luck on the new job btw.

Thursday, November 13, 2008  

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