TN: 2006 Clos des Papes, Chateauneuf du Pape

Decanted for over an hour, served with hearty Spanish fare.

I could not get over the scale of this wine. It’s big, powerful, full-bodied, but disappointly sweet, hot and low acid, making it very heavy and viscous. All about dark fruits, bordering on raisins, with a kirsh liquor note. Lots of hot white pepper, lots of heat from the 15%+.

The last Clos des Papes that I have adored is 2001. This 2006 wine bears no resemblance to that wine, and candidly, is very similar to the 2007.

Without a doubt my palate has shifted away from Chateaunuef du Pape these last 10 years, but even still, is this wine balanced?


Sniffing around here, and I see that there are a couple recent notes on the 2004, including this one from Howard Davis, which parallels mine (though his notes are far better quality than my scribbles):

I love this wine and the 2007 is one of the best wines I’ve ever had. Funny.

At 15% abv, you’re 4/5 of the way to a fine Port!

I don’t really drink CDP any more, but I still have bottles of Clos des Papes and Donjon. I find both do a good job of balancing the alcohol for the most part. Haven’t had the 06 Clos des Papes, but the 00 is wonderful right now and I recently enjoyed the 04. Haven’t bought any since then.

I haven’t had the 06, but 08-11 are wines that exist at the edge of what I can enjoy. There are less expensive CdPs (Vieux Donjon, Charbonnieres, Charvin, Usseglios, Domaine de Ferrand) I would probably be happier owning several bottles of vs. one Clos des Papes. That said, I can drink it, and there are many other Grenache-heavy or oaky wines I find genuinely unbearable.

And that said, I don’t think I would have said the same about the scattered Clos des Papes I got to try from the late 90s.

Robert, thanks. I haven’t tried the 2006 and I’d be interested in comments too.

However I thought it might be interesting to look at the trend in alcohol percentages in Clos des Papes in recent years because posters have mentioned it anecdotally:

2013: 14.8%
2012: 15.4%
2011: 15.0%
2010: 15.9%
2009: 15.6%
2008: 14.7%
2007: 15.5% or 15.7%
2006: 15.2%
2005: 15.3%
2004: 15.3%
2003: 15.6%
2002: 13.8%
2001: 14.5%
2000: 14.6%
1999: 14%
1998: 14%

[Source: RP except 1998 and 1999 (CT, may be rounded down).]

Our 2004 and 2006 are not in the top 4 of recent vintages. The 2001 you reference looks much more reasonable.

As I understand it, the problem Chateauneuf has is the effect of recent long hot harvesting seasons and the late ripening Grenache. To achieve phenolic ripeness of Grenache, long grape hang times are needed, pushing up alcohol and down acidity. Vincent Avril uses 20% older vine Mouvedre to offset this to some extent because it ripens earlier, but his wine is still 65% Grenache.

That’s an interesting graph, Howard. Thanks for posting it. I would not be surprised if the 2006 was actually a few tenths higher. Every impression I had from start to finish was the alcohol. I understand the counter-argument that many high-alcohol wines are sufficiently balanced to pull off 15%, but for my palate, I avoid them. As I was buying some 2010 Bordeaux, I immediately moved on when I would see the 15% on the label or read Parker’s laudatory comments on how 15% was achieved naturally.