Earlier this week, I had the most delightful pleasure of popping into a tasting that featured Rhone Valley selections from Importer Alain Junguenet. I was on pins and needles in anticipation of great things that I've heard, yet not tasted...
"Less is More", or so the vintage 2010 is sited as. I don't drink wines from Rhone Valley often, let alone Châteauneuf-du-Pape selections, but as a student of wine - I wanted to tag into the vintage that is being praised with much attention. Here are some of my notes on the ones that left a lasting impression on me.
Domaine de la Chardonnière Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2010
(40% Grenache Blanc, 40% Roussane, 20% Clairette)
I call this a teaser wine. Firstly due to its fleshy texture and juicy structure. I enjoy floral notes on a wine and this one was bountiful. Acacia upfront, with honeysuckle notes surrendering after swirling the wine in my glass for a while. Apricot skin, yellow apple flesh and fresh picked asian pear - fruits are ripe without being obnoxious. The spice was contributed from the wine spending time in 25% new oak barrels, yet the vanilla attributes were sexy instead of cloying, the icing on the cake - it rounded the wine nicely. The mineral notes consisted of a layer of smooth stones which complimented the body and ample acid component in this wine. Overall, it was a well balanced wine that I'd fancy trying in about two years. The wine is bottled without filtration.
Château Fortia Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge "Reserve Speciale" 2010
(85% Syrah, 15% Grenache)
I am not crazy about Syrah unless it's from Tuscany where it carries an old world character of someone with tons of wisdom. This bottling contained overripe black plums, sweet blackberries and lush boysenberries with a stern meaty note, subtle white pepper and playful limestone. It was a nose that constantly changed on me. High concentration and bold tannins to match, but they softened up just a touch after it lingered on my palate and that was when I was swooned. This is a classy full bodied wine that knows its boundaries and will age ever so gracefully. Everything was so well interweaved that I still couldn't believe that I found a Syrah that I didn't want to let go of. The first vintage for this wine was in 2006 using 10 year old Syrah vines. I am surprised, yet intrigued to see what potentials will develop for a wine that is destined to create history.
Domaine Olivier Hillaire Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge "Les Petits Pieds d'Armand" 2010
First of all, this is story in itself. Winemaker Olivier Hillaire purchased three hectares of CDP and five hectares of CDR in 2006 from his ex-father in law whom he previously worked for, at Domaine des Relagnes. Smaller plots of land, yes - but to no dismay. His previous wine knowledge led him to choose the best parcels that existed. Among one of his plots, there grows Grenache grapevines that are 107 years old - contained in this special bottling which he named after his grandfather Armand. Every jammy berry is packed into this lush wine that explodes with sandy minerality and an almost perfect structure foundation. Baking spices such as clove and nutmeg are well-laced within. Loads of mineral traces on the finish and so well balanced - another wine that proves to be age worthy. In conclusion, this wine proved to me that anyone can fall in love with one wine and one wine only. This is that wine. Call me crazy.
I only chose three wines due to my limited time at the tasting, but all in all if I ever get invited to a Alain Junguenet Selection wine tasting again - I will be the first to arrive and the last to leave.