Just wondering what other people think. When I was in my Aussie Shiraz and Cal Cab phase, these wines were a nice, Old World alternative, but I have since been wary of overextracted fruit bombs. Are recent CNdPs in this mold? For people with actual tasting experiences, would the 2010s be nice for someone who is looking for varietal/regional character, as opposed to the grapey versions that have dominated, to my taste, essentially each supposedly great vintage since the 1990s. For what it is worth, I fully admit that I simply don’t get CNdP. Thanks.
I dont know alot about Rhone but Im guessing the wines of the northern rhone would be more your style.
For me, Northern Rhone > Southern Rhone and it’s not even close.
I like northern and southern Rhone wines, and I don’t like over extracted new world wines. CNdP can be a minefield, but there are balanced wines to be found. 2010 is definitely a better vintage than 09 or 07. If you’re looking for elegance, though, look for some 08 on blowout. Charvin, telegraphe, and Donjon are three to try.
Good question – by which I mean that I’ve wondered the same thing. My guess is that the fact that CNdPs can still show earthier hot stone and graphite components even when very ripe is a mitigating factor for people who otherwise don’t favor gobs of fruit.
Imho, Grenache is much like Pinot Noir in that it doesn’t handle heat/over-ripeness very well. That said, try a CdP from Clos du Mont-Olivet. I haven’t had any of the more recent vintages, but the 2005 is as comparatively close to a more elegant style as I can think of. People often suggest Rayas as another CdP made in a less ripe style but I’ve never had the privilege of tasting one.
I stay away from the lauded vintages, and stick to off vintages (e.g., 2008, 2004). 2007 and 2009 were definitely too ripe for my tastes. Supposedly 2010 is much more “classic” but the few that I’ve tasted are fairly big, rich and ripe, with some exceptions (2010 Clos des Papes, for example, is a huge, dense, intense wine, which would be hard to distinguish from a lineup of Paso wines).
I spoke with Robert Kacher about CdP alcohol/ripeness a couple of weeks ago and he says Grenache isn’t really ripe until it finishes fermenting at 16.5% or higher, and that the other grapes dilute the alcohol. Not sure how similar that sounds to Pinot Noir.
I’d save up and buy yourself a bottle for some special occasion. Rayas is really incredible stuff.
Barring that, drop me a line if you come through St Louis sometime!
Stay away from hot vintages ('03, ‘07), stay away from super cuvees that spend time in small/new oak. Keep with traditional (foudre or, better, concrete made/aged) CdP. Check out Harry Karis’ guide for wine making and style. Buy those that are “T”. In my opinion (Rayas being the exception that proves the rule), price is not an indication of quality. If I was restricted to only one red wine for the rest of my life, it would be Charvin, who, not coincidentally, makes only one CdP, no super cuvees, and whose wines never spend time in wood.
Absolutely, you’re right that CdP is obviously more than just Grenache and I’m not gonna pretend to know all of the winemaking specifics, only going off of how the “bigger” examples made in warmer vintages taste in relation to my palate…hence the “imho” part of the comment.
for the super kind offer and I will absolutely make an effort to try some Rayas!
This is spot on, the 08’ Telegraphe almost got me to buy CNP again as I am so burnt out on the over the top, extracted wines, the 08’s are really nice.
Now that I’m not on a phone…
I really like the flavors of some southern Rhone grapes when they’re not over the top. My rules of thumb:
- As above, stick to Karis’s “traditional” producers
- Stick to producers who make only one wine (i.e. no super cuvee)
- Don’t spend more than $100. Otherwise you’re likely to end up with an oaky, extracted mess
If you want to know if these wines are for you, I highly recommend buying a 2010 Saint Cosme CdR Deux Albions. It’s ready to go now and has an earthy/mineral side that I can’t get enough of. Under $20.
The nice thing about these wines is that you get some fruit and a relatively full body, but there is some acid and structure. They’re not like cult cabs. If you buy right, you can find ripeness with balance. There’s definitely a place in my cellar for southern Rhones.
Just had a 2003 Charvin, highly recommended as a classic CdP.
My advice would be to try and taste as many as you can.
CdP is something like Burgundy where I would say it has given me some of my best drinking experiences and also some real head scratchers.
Once you find which producers you like and which vintages suit your taste, you can find CdP that is elegant, complex and balanced.
Of the 2010’s I’ve tasted so far, I would highly recommend Vieux Donjon.
Clos des Papes is also excellent and I purchased it for my cellar, but to my palate, Donjon was extremely close if not equal in quality and it’s roughly half the price. So, it’s a great introduction to traditional CdP from 2010.
I may be in the tiny minority, but I was not that impressed with the St. Jean super cuvees, especially the Ex Machina, which, to me, had a finish like nail polish.
If you can get your hands on a 1998 or 2001 Charvin, you can get a real good idea of how great some of these wines can be with some age.
Another very good entry point is 2008 Pegau Reservee, which is being closed out at give-away prices by at least one retailer.
I’m not claiming to be right or wrong, just offering the opinion of a man who knows far more than I do about the wines.
What age do you like them at? Maybe it’s not that you don’t get it, you’ve just been drinking them too young. For my taste, no vintage of CDP since the 90s is remotely ready to drink; around 20-25 years is optimum for better vintages like 89-90. I’d avoid 03 (unbalanced, too tannic) and 07 (very ripe) and going back, 98 (ripe, ageing erratically). Other than that, it’s very much about producer. 96 Beaucastel is a lighter vintage I’ve enjoyed.
I swear I can taste the white wine in CNdP.
I know that the odds would say 99-1 it’s just some psychosomatic disconnect.
But still - something about CNdP just ain’t right.
So what happens with the super cuvees that are 100% Grenache?
I try to avoid the super cuvees in riper years and tend to prefer the CDPs that have higher concentration of Mourvedre and Syrah. The 100% grenache CDPs in ripe years burn the heck out of me.