JAMES SUCKLING - RHONE IN THE ZONE WITH A STRING OF SOLID VINTAGES

12.10.2019

JAMESSUCKLING.COM - 12 OCTOBRE, 2019 - NICK STOCK, SENIOR EDITOR

The Rhone Valley's three most recent vintages are very distinctive and deliver quite clear influence over the wines they made. The most recent, 2017, is in a difficult position to be compared with the extrememly strong years of 2015 and 2016. However, after tasting a few hundred wines this summer in the Rhone Valley and visiting a few dozen producers, the 2017 has made some excellent wines. 

 

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Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Chateauneuf-du-Pape rouge 2017

96. Immediately a sense of darker fruit in this vintage. The nose has closed up a little since tasting in barrel. It has some reserved, sanguine notes and an essence-like, raspberry core. Some stones and chalk here, too. Very long and focused palate. The grenache is singing here. Dense but soft and supple tannins, the product of thick, healthy skins. Best from 2025.

 

Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Chateauneuf-du-Pape rouge 2018

94-95. The finished blend that is now aging another year in 60 hectoliter barrels, this has a very fleshy, round, rich and smooth-honed palate that has such completeness already. The raspberries and red plums are stunning here. The tannins are there and very open-knit and there’s a super sapid feel to the finish. The 15% mourvedre does much of the heavy lifting here. It shapes the finish and drags it deep. Around one-third from crushed grapes with stems. Drinkable on release, but best from 2024.

 

Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Chateauneuf-du-Pape blanc 2017

96. A stonier, more mineral expression of white Châteauneuf with impressive body and concentration. Super fresh, white flowers, flint and delicate pears here. The palate has a strong, mineral edge, smooth phenolics, fleshy stone fruit and a neat, fine, chalky finish. Clairette, grenache blanc, roussanne and bourboulenc. Drink in 2020.

 

Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Chateauneuf-du-Pape blanc 2018

96. Traditionally dominated by clairette (45%) and grenache blanc (30%), then roussanne and bourboulenc. The vines average 50+ years and there’s a very restrained nose with dialed-back white-pear and chalk aromas with dried flowers, too. The palate has a super fresh, zippy feel and a long, juicy and attractive core of fresh, salty minerals. The balance is innate and very fluid. Drink or hold.

 

Piedlong Chateauneuf-du-Pape rouge 2016

98. The trademark, old-vine-grenache offering of earthy notes with wild berries, herbs, flowers and spices. Wild. Hints of blood oranges and pink-grapefruit peel. Superb, expansive palate shape, all finesse and length. Super-fine, focused and elegant. Refined, regal and majestic. Peppery, bright, wild, red fruit, blood oranges and orange bitters. Decades ahead of this. Drink or hold.

 

Piedlong Chateauneuf-du-Pape rouge 2017

93. A blend of 90% grenache for the Piedlong section and 10% mourvedre from the Pignan section, both old-vine parcels. The wild herbs and dried, wild red flowers and roses here are really something, together with grilled meat. Rich and succulent, very fleshy and intense. Drink or hold.

 

Télégramme Chateauneuf-du-Pape rouge 2017

93. Ripe and brambly raspberry, blueberry and cassis aromas with a strong thread of wild herbs. The shape is refined and taut through the palate. Some airy, fleshy lightness here with plush, fine and dense tannins. Finishes fresh with red fruit. Great grenache in 2017. Drink or hold.

 

Télégramme Chateauneuf-du-Pape rouge 2018

92-93. This has a lot of red fruit, a lot of personality and a lot of brambly aromas with spicy nuances, too. The palate has a very smooth build and a deep, plum and red-fruit core, framed in long, noble and rich, ripe tannins. The immediate fleshy appeal is high. Wait for the rest. Try from 2022.

 

Les Pallières Gigondas Les Racines rouge 2017

95. Aromas of cassis, garrigue and redcurrants and wild raspberries. Grenache drives the palate in a long, linear and very focused style. Dense, but delicate, with a fresh and juicy, raspberry-pastry finish. The vines are 80+ years old. Striking power and focus. Drink or hold.

 

Les Pallières Gigondas Les Racines rouge 2018

91-92. From very old vines (70-100 years old). There is a strong, red-fruit focus here with a sappy and very plush feel to the palate. Succulent, fleshy and mellow and a very suave, open-knit and ripe-grenache finish. A blend of 85% grenache and 15% cinsault and syrah co-planted. Drink over the first decade. 

 

Les Pallières Gigondas Terrasse du Diable rouge 2017

94. Lots of violets and blue fruit with cinnamon and dark stony aromas. Baking spices, too. On the palate, there's black fruit and an attractive, bitter-herb kick, with very dense tannins and a powerful, compressed feel. Lithe, juicy blue-fruit finish. Very focused, dense and long. Drink or hold.

 

Les Pallières Gigondans Terrasse du Diable rouge 2018 

92-93. The fruit for this is sourced from elevated terrasses (above 300m) and the depth and righ, dark cherries and plums are stunning. Rich red plums, mulberries, chocolate and plenty of tannin here. Sapid, chalky finish. A blend of 85% grenache and 15% mourvedre. 70% de-stemmed and 30% crushed with stems. Drink or hold. 

 

Vin de France Au Petit Bonheur Rosé 2018

93. This offers such complex and sophisticated drinking with a lightly toasted thread to the ripe, rich fruit. Grilled-peach flavors abound and the length is exceptional. Drink now. 

 

Mégaphone Ventoux rouge 2017

93. Super plush, and opulent, offering notes of sweet red plums, raspberry compote and darker blackberries. The palate is bathed in mixed-berry flavor, as well as dark cherries and dark minerals. Starts really supple, then turns fine and tightens through the finish. Noble tannins and darker fruit. A blend of 80% grenache and 20% syrah. A great vintage for this wine! Drink over the next five years.

 

Mégaphone Ventoux rouge 2018

91-92. A blend of 80% grenache and 20% syrah, this has a very rich and attractively ripe feel in 2018. Succulent, dense and very plush tannins carry an assertive, fresh and fleshy feel. There’s a salty mineral note, too. Drink on release.

 

Le Pigeoulet Vin de Pays Vaucluse rouge 2017

92. Pre-bottling from foudre. This has a ripe but fresh feel to it with very attractive berry-compote and spice. There’s a wealth of brambly, red grenache fruit, plenty of spice and a very plush, soft and supple palate with wild raspberries. Drink now.

 

Le Pigeoulet Vin de Pays Vaucluse rouge 2018

90-91. Ripe red cherries and raspberries with a fine palate that has a very sleek, plush and attractive feel. The palate is sappy and plush. 80% grenache, 10-15% carignan and the balance is syrah. Drink now.