TN: 1970 Domaine de Nalys Chateauneuf de Pape

I’m going to assume that this is Domaine de Nalys because, although the bottle doesn’t state the domaine, the proprietor is listed as Philippe Dufays (the proprietor of Nalys from the mid 1950s to the mid 1970s), and the wine is labeled as Chateauneuf de Pape…

In any event, I didn’t have particularly high expectations for a nearly 40 year old Chateauneuf that was labeled somewhat generically. Once we identified the producer, further research indicated that Dufays apparently used carbonic maceration in his approach to winemaking, which lowered my expectations further given the claim in Parker’s old Rhone book that the wines should be drank-up within the first 4 to 6 years.

On to the main event…

The fill level was excellent – perhaps only 3cm below the cork – which is an outstanding fill for a 4 decade old wine. The cork required a bit of work to remove, but was largely intact after being worked-out with an Ah-So. The wine had an alluring sweet perfume… another good sign. Pouring it into the glass, the wine definitely showed signs of age, with the ruby core surrounded by shades of orange and some browning as it thinned-out at the edges of the glass bowl. Now for the real test… and it passed with an unexpectedly-good performance. Medium bodied, with fine balance, and well-resolved tannins. Plenty of sweet fruit remaining – flavors of licorice, dried cherries, and leather. Clean… not a hint of brett. The wine is clearly in decline, but far far more alive than I would have anticipated. And, most importantly, it was very enjoyable… this performed well above my expectations!

Thanks to Errol Kovitch for inviting me over to try this wine (from my birth year no less)

Yup, definitely above expectations. Jim, I think that you hit the tasting note spot on for flavors. However, IMO, there was enough sweet fruit to make me think that while perhaps the wine might be in decline, it seems to be a pretty gradual downwards slope. I sense that if we would have had this bottle at age 50, it would still have been a wonderful drink. All in all, it was the great balance that made this wine so nice to drink, it really didn’t take us too long to gulp down 3/4 of the bottle, and by comparison, a 2000 Chateau Saint Martin de la Garrigue Bronzinelle that I opened with my dinner was almost work to drink.

Good point… there was alot of sweet fruit left. Given the fill level, the fruit, and the obviously-good storage, this could well continue to drink well for quite a while.

And it also leads me to question of the conventional wisdom regarding carbonic maceration… at least under the conditions for this wine, it clearly resulted in a wine that had loads of aging potential.