Last Monday I had the chance to taste some wine at the offices of David Bowler Wine with Southern Rhone great Phillipe Cambie, importer Peter Weygandt and Vincent Maurel of Clos St. Jean of Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
We tasted 10 wines and it was pretty great because there were only a few of us sitting around a table. I had just come from a Vias tasting, which also presented a select group of wine — in this case all red. I find this a much better environment than the football-field sized tasting like those held at the Marriot Marquis. Mostly because I’m a lightweight and get drunk. I don’t know how others do it.
The wines were all rich and delicious.With M. Maurel, we tasted two white Chateauneuf du Papes from the same site and from the same blend: roussane, clairette and white grenache with 50 percent from old barriques and 50 percent from tank. They were, however, extremely different, and M. Maurel didn’t really have an answer why. There could have been a bit of a language barrier, but the reason he gave was very French–in the order of “It’s like that.”
The 2006 was rich and clearly best for food. The 2007 was more aromatic with a tangy acidity. Perhaps better as an aperitif.
According to these experts, the 2006 vintage was a great elegant vintage producing wines that will take longer to develop.
Also on the table were two Cotes du Rhone by Aphillantes, the 2005 “Galets” and the 2006 Trois Cepages. Both are the Rhone trio of GSM, grenache, syrah and mouvedre, which has been adopted in Australia. Both are rich and balanced, with the Galet having a beautiful nose, floral and powdery. All the wines were high in alcohol but balanced by rich fruit and complex flavors. The third wine drom Aphillantes was the 2005 Cairanne (the name of the village “L’Ancestral du Puits” made from 100-year-old vines. Bright red fruit with black strap, floral, some black spice and leather with high tannins and a long finish. More info about Aphillantes from a Dutch enthusiast here.
Finally was the famous Clos St. Jean Chateauneuf du Pape Deus Ex Machina from the sold out 2004 vintage. Almost black with prune and a hint of oxidation on the nose. It’s rich with an almost greasy long finish with more prune and pine on the palate. 60 percent grenache from 100-year-old vines and 40 percent mouvedre from 45-year-old vines.