Lifestyle

The Ch?teauneuf du Pape Beauties of Domaine de la Janasse


Winemaker Christophe Sabon turns out both sumptuous Ch?teauneuf du Pape and value-priced C?tes du Rh?nes from his Proven?al vineyard

This large estate of over 136 acres is probably best known for its three cuv?es (the old-vine Vieilles Vignes, Chaupin, and Traditionalle) of Ch?teauneuf du Pape, but they also produce some extraordinary as well as inexpensive C?tes du Rh?nes. Following are my tasting notes on recent releases from the 2005 and 2006 vintages.

87 points

2006 C?tes du Rh?ne

The 2006 C?tes du Rh?ne, which is aged totally in foudres, is a wine of 50% grenache, 23% syrah, and the rest cinsault, mourv?dre, and syrah. This deep ruby/purple wine reveals loads of pepper, licorice, smoke, herbs, and sweet cherry, and black currant. Excellent texture, medium body, soft tannins, and low acidity make for quite a luscious style of wine to drink over the next three or four years. $16

88 points

2006 C?tes du Rh?ne Blanc

The 2006 C?tes du Rh?ne white, a blend of 50% white grenache and the rest clairette, Bourboulenc, marsanne, and viognier, is a high-class dry white that comes across like a mineral-laced Chablis from the north. Hints of rose petals intermixed with wet stones and citrus are all present in this medium-bodied, delicious wine to drink over the next several years. $16

89 points

2006 C?tes du Rh?ne-Villages Terre d'Argile

One of the more brilliant inexpensive wines of the southern Rh?ne is Janasse's 2006 C?tes du Rh?ne-Villages Terre d'Argile, which essentially means "clay soils." A blend of grenache, syrah, and mourv?dre, the wine is deep, medium to full-bodied, showing peppery, smoky, earthy notes intermixed with plenty of black cherry and raspberry fruit notes as well as hints of chocolate and spice. The wine should drink well for five to seven years if not longer. $18

89 points

2005 C?tes du Rh?ne-Villages Terre d'Argile

The 2005 C?tes du Rh?ne-Villages Terre d'Argile is a beauty. Dark ruby/purple with notes of roasted meats, spice box, tobacco leaf, licorice, and red and black fruits, it is dense, chewy, has some tannins to resolve, but is quite a mouthful of wine that should age nicely for five to eight years. $18

90 points

2006 Ch?teauneuf du Pape Blanc

This white wine is made from 40% white grenache, 30% roussanne, and 30% clairette. It is put through full malolactic and aged in barrel, but the wood is not a factor in the wine's aromatics or flavors. Crisp underlying acidity buttresses a relatively full-bodied, fleshy wine with a real taste of the soil. There is something very Alsatian Riesling about the character of this wine. It is medium to full-bodied, dry, crisp, and fresh. Drink it over the next three to four years. $44

90 points

2006 C?tes du Rh?ne Les Garrigues

A real blockbuster, the 2006 C?tes du Rh?ne Les Garrigues is mostly from old-vine grenache with some mourv?dre. The wine is deep ruby/purple with spectacular black raspberry and kirsch notes intermixed with licorice, smoked herbs, and meat juices. It has fabulous purity, superb texture, and an amazingly long finish. In 2006 this is slightly less powerful than the 2005, but what a superb wine. It should evolve nicely for at least 10-12 years. It is a great C?tes du Rh?ne at a fabulous price. $20-$22

91 points

2006 Ch?teauneuf du Pape Tradition

The 2006 Ch?teauneuf du Pape Tradition is 80% grenache and equal parts syrah and mourv?dre, with winemaker Christophe Sabon saying the mourv?dre was the best he had seen in over a decade form his estate vineyards. The grenache is aged in foudre, but small barrels are used for the syrah and mourv?dre. Dense ruby/purple, structured for a 2006, with sweet, concentrated fruit, low acidity, and ripe tannin, this is a seriously endowed, concentrated Ch?teauneuf du Pape that begs for two to three years of bottle age, and should drink well for 15 or more years. $35

92 points

2006 Ch?teauneuf du Pape Cuv?e Prestige Blanc

Sadly, fewer than 1,000 bottles were made of the 2006 Ch?teauneuf du Pape Blanc Cuv?e Prestige. Made from 70% roussanne and the rest the other permitted white varietals of Ch?teauneuf du Pape and aged in old barrels, the wine has stunning richness, a classic rose petal nose intermixed with orange marmalade, nectarine, pear, and lichee. The wine is full-bodied, with beautiful texture, purity, and crisp acidity. It should drink nicely for four to five years, possibly a lot longer. $58

92 points

2005 Ch?teauneuf du Pape Tradition

The 2005 Ch?teauneuf du Pape Tradition reveals great fruit and a dark ruby color in a masculine, palate-saturating style, with notes of meat, black fruits, licorice, earth, and roasted herbs. The wine is dense, moderately high in tannin, and full-bodied, and should be at its best between 2010 and 2020+. $45

92 points

2005 C?tes du Rh?ne Les Garrigues

An amazing wine, the 2005 C?tes du Rh?ne Les Garrigues eclipsed 15.6% natural alcohol. Tasting like a Ch?teauneuf du Pape rather than a C?tes du Rh?ne, it exhibits a gorgeous nose of blackberries, sweet kirsch, licorice, loamy soil, and truffles. Superb concentration, an opulent, fleshy texture, and a blockbuster finish make for one of the most profound C?tes du Rh?nes I have ever tasted. $18

94 points

2005 Ch?teauneuf du Pape Chaupin

A 100% grenache cuv?e from sandy and clay soils, the 2005 Ch?teauneuf du Pape Chaupin has a deep ruby/purple color and a sweet nose of smoked meats and game, blackberry, and cassis fruit intermixed with some sweet cherry, plum, and a hint of fig. The wine boasts some charcoal notes, plenty of ocean sea breeze, and a hint of seaweed wrapper (nori) with a long, heady, stunningly rich finish. This is a beauty, but it really needs two to three years of cellaring but should keep for two decades. $60

95 points

2006 Ch?teauneuf du Pape Chaupin

The 2006 Ch?teauneuf du Pape Chaupin (18,000 bottle produced) is brilliant. Made from 100% grenache from sandy and clay soils, the wine shows a stunning purity of licorice-infused black raspberry and black cherry notes, good, firm tannins, and stunning richness in an opulent, hedonistic style. The wine is a classic example of old-vine grenache and of Provence. This full-bodied, powerful wine, which has no hard edges, should drink beautifully for at least 15 or more years. $60

96 points

2006 Ch?teauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes

The 2006 Ch?teauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes (88% grenache, 7% mourv?dre, and 5% syrah, with only 5,000 bottles produced) is one of the vintage's most profound wines. Inky ruby/purple to the rim, with a nose of incense, melted licorice, asphalt, blackberry, and blueberry with a hint of pain grill?, the wine is exceptionally powerful, rich, concentrated, and harmonious, with high but sweet tannins, low acidity, and a spectacular finish of close to 50+ seconds. It is much more approachable than the 2005, but give it four to five years of bottle age and drink it over the following 25 years. The 2006 will undeniably be a vintage to buy across the board at Domaine de la Janasse. $110

98 points

2005 Ch?teauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes

Absolutely profound, and certainly one of the vintage's great wines is the 2005 Ch?teauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes. Inky plum/ruby/purple to the rim, with a big, sweet nose of melted licorice, smoked meats, blackberries, cassis, and earth, the wine is deep, powerful, full-bodied, with fabulous concentration, purity, and a multi-dimensional mouthfeel. The finish goes on for close to a minute. Forget this wine for two to five years, and drink it over the following 25+ years. $95-$125


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