Chateauneuf-du-pape tasting

Our last Chateauneuf-du-pape tasting in ely bar & brasserie in  February was one to remember. Hosted by Simon Tyrell of Tyrell’s Wines, it was by turn informative, entertaining and downright delicious. Simon is the leading Rhone Valley expert in the country and has intimate knowledge of the area, its wines and winemakers. One guest even commented that he seemed to know each and every rock in each vineyard.

After an in-depth history lesson that took in everything from 14th century popes to flying saucers –they are banned in Chateauneuf-du-Pape by the way- we got down to a few facts.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape is the most important appellation in the Southern Rhone valley, and larger in size than the entire Northern Rhone, covering almost 3186ha. There are 13 permitted grape varieties, including 5 white, making approximately 12 ½ million bottles each year.
And then the tasting…. We started with a Clos des Papes white 2000. Clos des Papes is one of the leading properties in the region and quite possibly the best producer of white in all of Chateauneuf. Their whites are always a treat to taste but all the more so after a few years bottle age.

The 2000 – an equal blend of Grenache blanc, Roussane, clairette, picpoul and bouleblanc- showed aromas of ripe pear and tropical fruit, followed by a full, honeyed palate with hints of fennel. Remarkably fresh for a wine of its age, this is due the winemakers decision to inhibit the malolactic fermentation, preserving the fresher malic acids and giving the wine the ability to age.
The first of the reds was Domaine de la Janasse Cotes du Rhone villages ‘Terre d’Argile’ 2009.
Janasse is a property owned and run by Aime Sabon, consisting of 50ha spread between Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Cotes du Rhone, and Cotes du Rhone villages. The ‘Terre d’Argile’ 2009 is one third each Grenache, Syrah and Mouvedre and fermented in concrete tanks- concrete holds a constant temperature more effectively in these hot climates. The wine was an explosion of dark fruit-plums, blackberries and damsons- and provincial herbs, with very fine tannins and a lovely freshness on the finish.

 Next up was Clos des Pape 2008, one of our favourite producers and clearly one that Simon also feels quite passionate about. Composing of roughly 60% Grenache, there was lovely cherry, raspberry and cinnamon on the nose, with the spice really coming through on the palate- black and white pepper from the Grenache, liquorice and leather from the Mouvedre. Drinking well but still very much a baby, this has years and years of life to look forward to.
 Domaine Usseglio ‘Cuvee de mon Aïeul’ 2004 A small producer with just 16ha in Chateauneuf, which in turn is divided between more than 30 separate lots. The wine is 70% Grenache, the balance split between Syrah and Mouvedre. The hot vintage was reflected on the nose, with baked plum and fig, and yet there was a surprising freshness on the palate- seemingly undimmed by the years in bottle. The aging did however soften the tannins, resulting in a finely grained finish.
Domaine du Pegau 1999 Magnum To finish on a high…. Firstly, about the

ely bar & brasserie, IFSCA total of 18 ha spread out over 11 separate parcels, the wines are generally about 75% Grenache, 20% Syrah 5% Mouvedre. And the wine… An amazing nose, which we put to the room and got back barnyard, farmyard and horse hair !!
The fruit and spice had combined with age to give a wonderfully earthy aroma, and on the palate was incredibly soft and satin-like, with a medium to full body, and a flavour that went on for an age….

It was a worthy finish to an excellent tasting, and our thanks again to Simon, who provided some of the older vintages direct from his own cellar.
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