When I first had this wine more than a decade ago, I thought it was probably the best Chateauneuf I had tasted. Since that time, it has declined a bit...but not much. My bottles are all 375 milliliters, though, and cannot be expected to age as well as those from larger bottles.
Brick tones and lots of sediment on one side. The nose is funky tonight. The last bottle of this I had a year ago had an exceptional bouquet, so I think what is showing tonight is more about bottle variation than age. The flavors are still going strong--deep cherry, berry, spice. Very typical old-style Chateauneuf. The old vines Grenache creates lots of excitement on the finish.
In his latest email offering, Jon Rimmerman of Garagiste.com questioned the ageworthiness of Chateauneuf du Pape, stating that the prime age for drinking is 12 to 15 years. Having had numerous Chateauneufs at all stages of maturity, I disagree strongly. It depends, I guess, on what you're looking for in a wine. What makes this appellation special, in my opinion, are the qualities that develop over several decades in old vine Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. Rimmerman can have his early agers; I'll take my late bloomers.