The Final Four

Marguerite Barrett
Contributing Writer

We could easily have stopped with the Réserve Personnelle, and I would have felt I had gotten more than my money’s worth from the seminar, but there were four more wines lined up in front of me.

Change le Merle Vielles Vignes 2007, Bosquet des Papes, presented by Nicolas Boiron, proprieter and winemaker.  Blend 88% grenache, 8% Mourvèdre and $% syrah grown on three parcels, Gardioles, Montredon and Cabriéres.  The vines are 90+ years old, and the wine is aged 14 months in a combination of demi-muids and foudres.  Only 750 cases were produced.

The Chante le Merle Cuvée was first produced in 1990 by Maurice Boiron, the third generation of the Boiron family to helm Bosquet des Papes, and since then he, and now his son Nicholas who took over the winemaking in 2000, produces the Cuvée only in those vintages that he feels deserve it.

The color is a dark ruby color with some lovely deep red notes when the wine catches the light.  The nose is very soft with light notes of fruit, particularly cherry.  In the mouth, the wine is soft, lush, lightly fruity and very spicy with strong notes of pepper and cumin.  This is a very big, robust wine, a “steakhouse wine,” if you will.  The finish lingers with the warm toasty spiciness of the cumin.  Soft tannins help give the wine a nice balance and complexity.  Overall this was another one of the eyes-rolling-back-in-the-head, wish-I-could-afford-these-wines moments and I immediately texted Kevin, who, I am sure, was heartily sick of my taunting him with “you should be here” texts.

Vielle Vignes 2007, Domaine de la Côte d l’Ange, presented by John Junguenet.  Blend 90% grenache, 5% syrah, 5% Mourvèdre, grown on the parcel for which the domaine is named: Le Coteau de l’Ange.  the age of the vines is 95 years, and the wines are aged for 12 months in foudres and 2-3 year old barrels.  600 cases were produced.

The Vielle Vignes gave the Domaine Pierre Usseglio & Fils Cuvée du Mon Aïeul a run for it’s money for the top spot as my favorite of the day.  Even revisiting the Cuvée in a back-to-back tasting, I was hard pressed to choose between the two.  I’d call it a tie, but as I tasted and compared, I realized if I was going to recommend one wine to Kevin from the entire group, this would be it.

The color is a dark garnet, not as bright as the previous wine, but still a lovely color.  The nose is soft and very light with notes of sea air – that bright salty crispness you often find in sea air.  In the mouth, the wine is smooth and fruity, although I found it difficult to isolate particular notes.  The finish is also smooth and lightly fruity and while another robust wine, it lacks the spice found in the Chante le Merle.  It was a very interesting contrast to taste the two back to back.

Cuvée du Quet 2007, Mas de Boislauzon, presented by Daniel Chaussy, proprieter and winemaker.  The blend is 80% grenache and 20% Mourvèdre, grown on the Bois Lauzon parcel.  The wine is aged for 16 months in a 50/50 combination of foudres and 3-year old barrels.

Daniel Chaussy, who runs the winery with his sister Christine, first produced the Cuvée in 2000 as a showcase for the Mouvèdre, with the base of the wine (60-70%) being old-vine Mouvèdre.  In 2007, he flipped that and increased the percentage of grenache.  The result earned the Cuvée 100 points from Robert Parker.

The color is a deep ruby/garnet.  The nose is earthy, rich and almost loamy – a really lovely nose with a much stronger presence than that of the previous few wines.  In the mouth, the wine is dry, earthy and elegant – lovely notes of grass and a lot of spice, particularly the sharper heat of pepper.  The finish lingers on peppery notes.  The wine still has the feel of a young wine, and while definitely drinkable now, I very much felt the potential, and think that this will really transform and blossom with aging.  Overall, while not a bad wine, I found it not as strong or as interesting as some of the other wines in the selection.

Les Petits Pieds d’Armand 2007, Domaine Olivier Hillaire.  Presented by Olivier Hillaire and translated by John Junguenet.  Blend, 100% grenache grown on a single parcel, Le Crau.   The vines are just over 100 years old, and the wine is aged 14 months in demi-muids.  330 cases were produced.

The color is a dark ruby, with a dense opaque tone.  While a lovely color, the wine doesn’t catch the light in quite the same way as a number of the other wines.  The nose is absolutely gorgeous – soft but complex; earthy, spicy and notes of dark berries.  In the mouth the wine is smooth with lovely, soft, rich notes of dark plum.  The sharp spicy heat of pepper comes with the finish providing an interesting complement to the soft plumminess.  Very, very nice wine, and like all the wines I tried that day, will definitely grow in depth and complexity as it ages.

That concluded the seminar, 10 Chateauneuf-du-Papes from the remarkable 2007 vintage, that near-perfect year.  Since returning from the seminar, I’ve been doing some hunting via Google to see if I can pick up at least a couple of bottles to cellar for a few years.  Even as young as they are, these are not cheap wines – most start in the low $100s and move up from there.  They also are not widely available, due both to the relatively low number of cases produced and limited distribution here in the US.  Luckily I live on the East Coast, near New York, and am sorely tempted to head down to the city, cruise the wine shops, and see what I can find.

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3 Responses to The Final Four

  1. Gretchen says:

    I love that label…

  2. Established you as a fave so I will; be back 😀