Aging Chateauneuf du Pape

I generally drink them with a little age. I’ve been drinking 2000, 2001, 2003 and I’m starting to look at some more 2004s. I recently had a 2006 for fun, but a 2008 seemed like it would benefit from a little more time.

Do they benefit from age in regard to drinkability and enjoyment? I think it helps to let them settle in a bit. Is it transformational or do they just endure? How do you like yours? In the northern hemisphere hearty food (stews, roasts, casseroles) season is here. These are good Winter wines and I’m lining up some soldiers for the march.

I’ve had Chateauneuf from the '60s and '70s over the last couple of years that have held up just fine. Depends on the wine and depends on what you are looking for.
Whether any of the new-age producers, or established producers that may have tweaked their wine-making over the last ten or fifteen years, will age as well is, I think, anybody’s guess. As far as I understand, climate change also seems to be increasingly resulting in wines with less structure and more heat.
(We’ll see, but my own drinking patterns have definitely veered away from Chateauneuf over the last 10 years, so I tend not to lose too much sleep over its future. I am, however, pretty confident about the wines I still have in my cellar: mostly Beaucastel, Clos des Papes, Charvin, Vieux Telegraphe and the like.)

After drinking the 1998 and 1996 Vieux Telegraphe last year followed by the 2001, I realized that 15-18 years is probably where I like my VT.

I found them considerably better than 01 and even 04.

I have the VT in 2004, but I’m letting those rest.

Most predominately I have Le Vieux Donjon, Clos du Mont Olivet, Bosquet des Papes and Roger Sabon. A mixed bag of others. I like syrah and I’m often tempted by Beaucastel, but I’ve never pulled the trigger for one reason or another.

As a general rule, I think they become approachable around 7 or 8, and are best between 10 and 12. But different vintages, age differently, as do different domaines. Many 08s are doing very well right now. 04s, 05s and 06s are generally drinking beautifully. Pegau and VT are slower than the general rule and I would let them rest some more in 05. Many 07s are in a very clumsy state now (even if one likes the vintage). And I am not drinking anything younger than that. On the other hand, I am keeping my hands off many of my remaining 01s for awhile. They have drunk very well for a few years now. But they show every evidence of being long agers and I would like to hold onto some remaining ones of them (Pegau, VT, Charvin, a couple of others) until they are nearer 20.

I really like older Chateauneuf and you can still buy older ones at decent prices. Over the past two years I have drunk 1973 and 1978 Lucien Barrot, 1978 Beaucastel, 1976 Mont-Redon, 1978 Ancien Domaine des Pontifes, 1943 and 1947 Pere Anselme, 1938 Bessac, 1955 Du Peploux a Courthezon and 1973 Domaine de la Vieille Julienne. Nearly every bottle was ethereal and engaging and satisfied this Burg lover immensely.

I’ve been picking up aged CdP over the past couple of years and have had some delicious wines. We had an '86 Cote de l’Ange late last year with Vincent F that rocked, and a 95 from that producer too was lovely. Recently A 1995 Domaine des Relagnes was also really tasty. One of the appeals for me is the pricing is pretty great too, especially when compared to high quality Burgundies and Piedmonte wines.

Over the last 5 years, I’ve had a few well stored ones from the mid to late 80s. I’ve found them to be just OK in terms of enjoyment. I much prefer the same producers’ wines that I had from the late 90s. So, I like them with about 15 years of age.

It depends soooo much on the producer. I had a 98 Tardieu-Laurent Vielles Vignes in 2011 that was beautifully balanced. The 01 Dom. Moulin-Tacussel is still very fresh and quite young. The 2004 Usseglio was pretty young on a couple of occasions a year or two ago.

What I wouldn’t chance is old ones with really high alcohol. I had a 98 (I can’t recall the producer) in September that had been well stored that was a hollow, alcoholic shell – no there there.

The aging patterns of all Rhone wines, North and South, red and white, continues to mystify me. Sometimes, I hit one in a great spot, but so often, I seem to get weird phases of one kind or another. It’s part of the reason I’ve gradually lost interest in buying Rhones.

Most of the wines I did buy seem to be in the 2000-2006 vintages, and I’m mostly just holding on hoping they go somewhere more interesting than most of them have been thus far. I had a 2006 Le Vieux Donjon CdP on Friday night. It was pretty good, not in some bad place, but not really that interesting either. I think it might improve with more age, but who knows.

I too like older Chateauneuf but haven’t had anything along the lines of Jeremy’s really older bottles; I agree that it’s anyone’s guess how well some of the newer, riper wines will age. FWIW, I’ve never had an older Beaucastel that I didn’t enjoy tremendously (back to the '81, with the '85 a particular favorite).

For me 1998 (VT, Pegau and Beaucastel) all in a great spot. No need to rush through them…

Have a bunch of 98 mid-levels that my father bought. They’ve aged fairly well. But the 89 Beaucastel we had last thanksgiving out of magnum was stupendous

Had an 06 VT from mag at Easter. It was wonderful. Still holding some of my CDP from the 70’s and 80’s. [cheers.gif]

Beau, that was the '86 Clos du Mont Olivet, though I do love Cote de l’Ange and have a '99 VV in the queue for drinking some time soon.

Agreement on Chateauneuf ageing well. I got into a little conversational trouble once when trying to explain why it ages well. Turns out, I have no freaking idea. But it does.

I have a colleague who cellars a lot of Chateauneuf and fully subscribes to about a ten year rule of aging.

Seven to fifteen years is a good rule of thumb, but there are plenty of exceptions. I agree with John that some of the high-alc ones don’t do that well with aging, but there are also exceptions on the other end, like Beaucastel and VT, that do become transformational and magically beautiful after 20 years.

You’re right, I wasn’t paying enough attention…And I even have that bottle on the mantle at our place!

In my experience Beaucastel, VT and Pegau age extremely well, and I much prefer them with 20+ years of age. I do like VT very young as well, though it’s a different sort of wine - very burly and furry-tannic. With enough age, VT becomes somewhat Rayas-like, more of a Burgundian take on Grenache.

I don’t have much experience with aged Rayas or Pignan but I’m sure they age well.

My own cellaring results have otherwise been mostly disappointing or neutral. From other sources I’ve had some older one-offs that were very good.

I recent drank an '09 VT thanks to Scott W. It was absolutely delicious and very drinkable, but it obviosuly has the stuff to go for a while. Just for a reference point on that wine.

I haven’t had CdP older than 10, but they seem to age very well.