TN: 2006 Clos des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape

  • 2006 Clos des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
    Bought on release and refrigerated stored since. Properly decanted and drunk over three evenings (during which time neither the bouquet nor palate changed much). A deep black red colour. On bouquet, a compote of stewed red and black berry fruit with iron filings, bloody barbequed meats and cherry cola. There’s also a whiff of glycerol alcohol noticeable on the nose. On palate, it’s similar with flavours of kirsch, hung game meats, dried herbs, red liquorice and metals. It’s unctuous, juicy and dense. The tannins are somewhat coarse and it’s lacking a little acidity but, for me, the biggest problem is just too much alcoholic heat on the back palate. It’s a very well made wine with plenty of stuffing to obscure as best as is possible that alcohol. It’s better with food but, to my palate, the 15.2% alcohol (on the label, it may be higher) makes the wine too much when drunk on its own.

Posted from CellarTracker

Thanks for this excellent note.

I believe 2006 Clos des Papes is slowly coming out of a rather long closed/dormant/unattactive period.

Jeb Dunnuck (professional reviewer from TWA) tasted it quite recently at the Domaine (where bad storage/heat damage can safely be excluded), and likewise reported that it was closed.

Here’s a few notes (T=tasted at a tasting, nB= tasted non blind, dB= tasted double blind) to show you how disappointing I found it a few years ago. One friend (familiar with and fan of the Domaine) tasted it earlier this year and too found it awkward, so the time may not yet be ripe for pulling corks on this (probably/hopefully) very fine Clos des Papes.

2006 Clos des Papes

10-10 2014 nB
Tasted with Paul Bang who wrote the note with which I agree.
Plummy, even slightly pruny, somewhat minty scent. Slight, pleasantly medicinal Kirsch like elements. Actually a bit muddy and malted without much nerve and freshness.
Pruny, full-bodied taste with fine freshness to balance the beautiful, fine grained tannin and somewhat flabby singed fruit. Malt, prunes and iodine create a medicinal impression.
Reasonably long but awkwardly unknit aftertaste which leaves an unsavoury impression of fermented ryebread on the palate.
Oddly enough it improved quite a bit over an hour. The rating reflects the final impression.

10-19 2014 nB
Dark, maturing colour.
Plummy, muddled, a bit unclean with whiffs of oxidation. Rich, but not exciting
with licorice and clumsy acidity. Rather sluggish with flabby taste leading to a burning finish with furry acidity. Frankly not much better than the aromas.
Even the mother of all root days couldn’t possible be responsible for such a mess!
Conclusion: This vintage of Clos des Papes should presently be avoided. Try again when you feel lucky…*

04-09 2016 TnB
Very good, maturing colour.
Still a trifle unyielding and “transitional” nose, but there is nice fruit, salinity and fragrant hints of what’s to come, but also cardboard-like traits of clumsiness. Not nearly as awkward as when last tasted in 2014 (from the same case).
The taste has spicy richness and bright freshness. Complex, but a bit coarse and muffled.
Taste big and concentrated with a tannic core of iron and chewy extract. This will be terrific when it fully emerges from its rather long, closed phase.
Long,dry aftertaste. Try again in two years (and at least five from magnum).

*12-14 2011 dB
This older note is included because the bottle came from the same perfectly transported/stored case as the three above.
Between dark and medium deep, mature colour.
Wonderful maturing, traditional CdP of the highest class. Cool, fragrant with hints of resin and grapefruit oil on a blanket of rich, understated fruit (strawberries are prevailing). The complex aromas reveal further nuances with swirling. Terrific!
Taste substantial and mouthcoating in a gloriously majestic way. Difficult to spit there’s an earthy, tarry zest to the liqueur like fruit culminating in a spicy, expansive finish which is highly impressive. Chocolaty, ultrasoft tannins support the long aftertaste leaving a piquantly bitter trace on the tongue. Bravo!


Nice detailed notes, Howard!

Remember our discussion from last year?

My sentiments exactly.

Robert, thanks for the reminder. I remember our discussion but had forgotten it was about the 2006 CdP.

Peter, for my palate, the problem is that unlike oak, alcohol does not integrate (or disappear from) a wine with time, so my experience with my other two bottles is unlikely to improve much … Of course, YMMV.

By coincidence, yesterday I saw a 2014 Chateauneuf offer with many wines at 15.2%+ alcs. The 2014 CdP is dialled back to 14%, so perhaps they’re trying to correct the trend of the mid 2000s …

Howard, I have very often experienced (confirmed by looking up all my notes of a number of randomly chosen CdP’s) that alcohol can poke through during certain stages of a wine’s lifespan, while still not pose any problem when the wine is ready for prime time drinking.

The lower alcohol in the 2014 comes from dilution (rain) and because of the fact that Grenache had difficulties in reaching full maturity in this average year.

Jean-Paul Avril told me that the Grenache grapes harvested at ideal ripeness and used for Clos des Papes will result in a wine with an alcohol content of 15.5%. The finished red Clos des Papes nearly always contain 65% Grenache.


I, too, was alarmed at how porty and spiritous this wine got in the last couple of years. It was lovely in the early days, but as it has aged it’s come to resemble the wines of the super-ripe, new-wave school more and more. Which is not what one is looking for when one buys Clos des Papes.

I wonder whether the decision to start destemming in, if I remember correctly, the mid-1990s, has made the wines fundamentally less age-worthy? I don’t see the wines from the late '90s or 2000s having the same longevity as what was produced in the '70s and '80s.

Every one of my Clos des Papes from between 95 and 01, including the unfairly maligned 98, is still going strong. To my palate the change in this wine occurred with the 03 (which at the time I put off on the vintage, but which vintages since, at least to 06, when i gave up on the domaine). Really this is stylistic. There are people who love the wine now and others who think it is over the top rocket fuel. I don’t see any basis for one side convincing the other, but I have no doubt people will try.

Are you including '96 and '97 in that statement about going strong? Just curious.

No, I’ve never had them and its a pertinent response. I have had the Charvin 96 and 93 recently, and though both have aged colors, they taste surprisingly young and fresh. At a Gigondas tasting last week, I had an 87 (that first number is not a typo) Grappilon d’Or–an ostensibly off year from a domaine with no particular reputation for aging that I know of–and while it was a grande dame of a wine, like Lady Bracknell, it still had all the best lines. It is surprising how well some of these supposedly off vintages, with lower alcohol, age. In the case of the Gigondas, I was in a room full of ITB people, who all agreed.

Right. To my palate it’s time to drink both of those vintages up chez Clos des Papes. '96 was admittedly challenging but '97 should still be decent; '94 still is, after all.

By contrast, I have had enough experiences similar to your positive surprise with the '87 Grappilon d’Or to believe that the aging potential (in the best sense) of traditionally-made Southern Rhone wines is in fact considerable, their expressiveness when young notwithstanding.

Clearly there are stylistic factors at play here, principally picking at more advanced maturity, but ripeness per se is not the only factor here. The 1989 Rayas is a pretty ripe, heady wine, but it is also extremely youthful and unimpeachably classic. And Pégaü wines always seem to be similarly ripe to Clos des Papes, yet I see recent vintages aging entirely correctly. So I do wonder if destemming is relevant here—as part of a general aesthetic shift at the domaine.

I’m neither a chemist nor a winemaker, so I really don’t know more about aging than what I have experienced and what I have been told (which may have been either truisms or falsisms). Charvin, who never destems, nevertheless thinks, for instance, that acid preserves freshnesss. Stems add tannin and therefore stuffing, so to speak, and tannins necessitate aging, but they do not, so to speak, permit it. That may be incorrect, but I’ve had my share of wines whose tannins have outlived their fruit. On the other hand, maybe stems add other things. What would I know?