Buying spree in Chateauneuf

Ok, it is the time of the year where most producers have their 2007s in the bottle, except a few like Pegau who usually bottle later in the year around October. When I do a trip like this it is mainly for quickly loading up the car, not an extensive tasting tour.

My first visit was Domaine Mordoree in tavel. Fabrice Delorme was welcoming as always, he seems already in a holiday mood as he is leaving for the Auvergne tomorrow. The 2007s are dark, tannic monsters which I will store in the deepest corner of my cellar and forget them for the next 15 years. I am not good in evaluating backward, tannic wines, but I know I like them in 5-8 years. Bought a case of Chateauneuf Reine de Bois, a case of Lirac and a case of Tavel Rosé.

Next stop was Clos des Papes. I really admire their policy of selling to private customers when all the importers and shops are kicking their door in to get a larger allocation. It was limited to 24 bottles this year and will be limited to 12 for the 2008 as the yields were extremely low. You can still get the wine if you just drop by. It is 42 Euros by the way. Bought 6 magnums and 12 bottles (2007 is the birthyear of my last daughter).

Then, Pierre Usseglio where Sandrine Usseglio admitted that they have “lost” my reservation, but had no problem in finding 24 bottles of the Tradition and 6 Mon Aieul. The base cuvee is in my opinion one of the best “normal” Chateauneufs this year. The Mon Aieul is out of this world, wish I had money for more. I don´t buy the Deux Freres as it is just not my style and the price difference to the Mon Aieul is too big in my humble opinion.

Then Clos du Caillou, my go-to place for standard Cotes du Rhones as I just admire their Quartz and Reserve, both around 16 Euros. The Clos du Caillou wines are all mostly Grenache-based, at least 80%. I stocked up with magnums of 2006 Reserve CdR and the whole range of 2007s. The Chateauneuf Safre is an underperformer for me, but the CdP Quartz does shoot the lights out.

To summarize - in Chateauneuf you see no signs of a crisis, mostly due to the stellar 2007s and Parkers notes for them. Most of my standard buys are all sold out. They all look quite uncomfortably at their 2008s which could be a problem to sell in a difficult environement althoug the ones I have tasted are really good for my taste. Harry Karis new book about Chateauneuf is on the market in 4 weeks, this will hopefully be a boost for the region where low quality producers 20kms from Chateauneuf are ripping out their vines and the hectar of land can be bought for €10,000.

When I drove home, my car loaded up with more than 120 bottles and a 20l cubitainer of Rosé I looked proudly on my wine - my wife would say that my priorities are quite screwed up…

I will post tasting notes over the next few days when the bottles have settled a bit.

I’m jealous that you can just buy and drive home. You bought a nice collection of wines.

Great post. Thanks for your impressions. And absolutely depressing to see what you cab buy Clos des Papes for ex-domaine. I purchased my 2005 directly from the domaine while I visited in May of 2007, so I mourn the ability to taste and buy this wine.

Paul, I am quite boring - I buy the same Domaines since 1998. The ones I have added in the past years are Durieu and Giraud and some Clos St. Jean from time to time. Ah yes, and Geneva is even closer to Burgundy, only 2 hours, but I just cannot bring myself to buy some acid juice that is way too expensive. Maybe I just need some 10 more years with Grenache and then can appreciate Pinot Noir…

Steffen, yes, the prices rest quite reasonable. No single 750ml bottle was more than 45 Euros and there are some great wines among them.

By the way, I am just sipping on a glass of Clos des Papes 2007 - popped an poured. A very forward style, creamy, fruity but subtle and not in your face. Almost too easy to drink. I would score this highly, but to my unexperienced palate this is maximum 93-95 points. It doesn´t have the WOW that a Deus Ex provokes on my tongues. I´ll keep some for tomorrow and report back.


Thank you for sharing this great story about my favorite part of the wine world right now (if we had a drooling smiley, it would be inserted here). You have also reminded me of the Caillou domaine. I have yet to taste their wines, but keep hearing stellar things about them.

Ok, I had drunk a glass of the Clos des Papes 2007 and left the rest in the fridge overnight.

The next day, I took it out of the fridge and let it sit in the kitchen for an hour to get to room temperature or slightly below. What a wine ! I can now understand the high ratings for this as it has developed cosiderably with some air overnight. Still that creamy component, still very easy to drink with no hard edges, but what aromatics! Full impact on the tongue and the aftertaste just leaves you speechless. Great balance. Needless to say, I didn´t need any help in finishing the bottle. 95-97 CZpoints. My guess is that I will like the Janasse VV or the Deus Ex even more, so I am curious to try these.

I have to dig out the 2005 from the cellar as this made me curious on how it has developed. I haven´t tasted it since fall last year.


I also went over to Chateauneuf this morning to pick up my wines, as I have done for several years…
Clos des Papes are a pleasure to deal with - very open and customer friendly. They have really set out to encourage a loyal personal customer base - it sounds obvious but we all know not everywhere is like that. I also admire their policy of only having one cuvée.
Looking forward to checking out the first bottle of 2007, and the 2008 white.

Judging from the domaines you visited I think that perhaps its a little bit premature to conclude there is no crisis in Chateauneuf du Pape. There are several hundred growers in the appellation and I am aware of at least a few that feel the pain. In addition, there will be very limited demand for the 2008 vintage after a string of great vintages in the Southern Rhone.

When it comes to Clos des Papes I agree that the folks there are nice without a doubt, but its a little bit hit and miss when it comes to being able to buy at the door step. I was at the domaine in late April and the 2007 wasn’t yet relaeased for sale. When I was there again just last week, there was still some cases left but not many and the white was totally sold out. So you basically have a window of 1-2 months where you can buy the wine there and then its gone. Also, Monsieur Avril has hiked the price significantly in recent years - he usually raised the price by EUR1 per year. I paid EUR33/btl for the 2004 and EUR34 for the 2005 there - the 2007 is now EUR43. I don’t mind that Avril hikes the price, but at EUR43 I have probably bought my last case at the domaine. In particular when I can still drive down to Domaine Charvin and buy the Chateauneuf du Pape for EUR21 there.

In general I am not aware of more than a few domaines where you can’t buy the wines at the door, so agreed from that perspective Chateauneuf is great without a doubt.



You really need to reserve some, Peter - when a wine is in such demand that’s the way it is.
However, when I went yesterday I was surprised to see the red was still available - the white is obviously in much smaller quantities.
I do agree that the price has gone up sharply over the last couple of years, and I thought twice before ordering, but I don’t regret it. If I had known Charvin was available at €21 I would have gone there as well.
Couldn’t resist opening a bottle: here is my note.

Having picked up my case from the domaine, I couldn’t resist opening one. Decanted one hour. Deep red colour, flirting with black. Perfectly delicious, in the heavyweight categoryand style. It’s very much the “iron fist in a velvet glove” - power and elegance. The fruit is very dark, kirsch like, pure and intense. It almost, but not quite, conceals the 15.2% alcohol, on the nose and the finish. The finish is long and spicy. Perfectly approachable now for those, like me, who can’t afford to wait 20 years or more for the finished article.

Jeff, agreed. Reserving is the way to go. I do have a lot of Clos des Papes in my cellar so I think I am good for now. It will be interesting to see how Avril prices 2008…

Man, the 2007 Clos des Papes, I tasted it at the domaine. It is soooo young. I’m impressed you opened one. I will try to wait until 2015 to open the first.

but its a little bit hit and miss when it comes to being able to buy at the door step

Peter, as was said before, a simple email would have secured you the bottles you wanted. I am not saying that it is extraordinary that they sell ex-Domaine, just happy that a wine that is in such demand all over the world can be bought by just dropping by.

On the topic of “crisis” and the wine business it is obvious that - like Bordeaux - those who have built up a brand and a loyal customer base can survive much better than those who sell their bottles for 4 Euros. I am aware of producers who just “give up” because they do not earn money with their wines. But that is mainly outside Chateauneuf for CdR producers. One example is the “Tricastin” appelation (Coteaux du Tricastin) some 30 kms from Chateauneuf. Their curse is the widely known “centrale nucleaire de Tricastin”. This nuclear power plant, easy to see from the A7 autoroute destroys all brand value that the appelation has as people associate Tricastin now with this plant. Add to this a bit of slumping sales everywhere and voila, people go bankrupt. A vintner I frequently go to for their “chambre” is very happy when he can sell his wine for more than 2-3 Euros. Some of his Rosee is sold in bulk for 60 cents/liter. That is near Vaison la Romaine.

But I think this would warrant an seperate topic. I am back in Chateauneuf for the Fête de la Véraison in 4 weeks and will see what I can find out about land prices (vinyards) in and around Chateauneuf. Usually this is a good indicator of the situation.


I have just returned to finish off the 2007 Clos des Papes bottle. What I described as the heavyweight category has moved to Sumo, but still perfectly well mannered in the Clos des Papes tradition. In particular the finish has strengthened, becoming beautifully spicy, tannic and long. Very much in line with your experience, Christian.