Thursday, November 26, 2020

Clos des Papes, Chateauneuf du Pape, 1994

Rhone expert John Livingstone-Learmouth refers to Clos des Papes as a "gold standard estate," and I doubt that many would disagree with that assessment, although Vieux Telegraphe and Beaucastel also belong right at the top of the appellation. While 1994 is not considered a great vintage in the Southern Rhone, Robert Parker ranked Clos des Papes as  the top wine of the vintage. Tonight, with Provencal lamb for Thanksgiving dinner, this wine lived up to its reputation and then some.

Like Beaucastel, Clos des Papes has a high percentage of Mourvedre (20 to 40%) in the blend. And when I first opened the bottle, Mourvedre was the dominant smell. Aggressive, high-toned, somewhat funky, almost like Bret but much more pleasant. With an hour of airing, the assertiveness fades into a rich, warm aroma of red and black berries, olives, sea salt and  trademark Mourvedre spice. On the palate, it just keeps getting better and better throughout the meal. Rich, warm texture with acidity to keep it going. Everything I want and expect in a Chateauneuf du Pape.

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