TN: Clos des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2020-2003 vertical

Okay, you have successfully badgered me down about a largely semantic point made in a casual comment on a wine message board. Congratulations on this significant debating victory and enjoy all the glory that comes with it. I will go back to trying to have some fun thinking about wine.


Does anyone have any thoughts on whether 90-100% grenache blends tend to be more “problematic” for those who are unhappy with where CdP has been going in recent years?

I’ve never done any kind of formal or wide-ranging comparison, but based on my anecdotal tastings I had developed a theory that I preferred blends with more mourvedre to the 100% (or close) bottlings, in part because the former had less of that overripe/pruney/porty/hi-abv thing going on. But having '11 Rayas and a '12 Saouma at a dinner last week (both 100% grenache) kicked that theory in the teeth as both wines were very light and elegant (at least for a CdP) and delicious. Oviously Rayas is Rayas and shouldn’t be used as a comparison for anything but not so the Saouma. So I’m back to asking the original question.

Obviously lots of other factors are at play but in any “all else being equal” scenario, do you find a) that the blend with more mourvedre is more likely to avoid these characteristics, b) the 90+% grenache blends are more likely to avoid these characteristics, or c) the blend makes no difference really compared to the other factors at work.

1 Like

Charvin after Rayas. I know you wrote etc, but Charvin is special. Like a great Cote de Nuits Grand Cru


Thanks, Otto! Nevertheless, such a bummer to read those tasting notes, as Clos des Papas has long been one of my favorite producers.

I will say that I’ve had two recent (this past summer) experiences with Pierre Usseglio’s 2019 CdP and both occasions it was wonderful - not “hot” and no raisiny or pruny flavors, but instead very intense, fresh fruit. I’ve been hoping the few other 2019s I’ve purchased (including Charvin, Clos du Mont Olivet, Pegau and Clos des Papes) would be similar, i.e., not “hot, pruny,” etc. I realize those other producers aren’t “Clos des Popes,” but many posters here seem to be saying this is a problem throughout CdP that has persisted for a decade or more.

Anyone had a '10 Clos de Papes recently? I’ve got a lone bottle, and don’t have a good sense of whether to drink or hold.

You have to understand that if somebody comes in and starts to talk about “semi-modern” producer in a thread about a producer normally considered to be one of the traditionalist stalwarts of the region, that is bound to raise a few questions in my head. This was not about debating, but instead wanting to know if I had missed something very important and what some people see “traditionalist” and “modernist” when it comes to wine and how these things seem to differ quite wildly from one region to another.

And I’m sorry for making you feel so offended but I have no idea when people really mean something when they write things here and when they are just casual comments thrown around without much afterthought. Calling Clos des Papes is a “semi-modern” producer was simply such a statement I couldn’t let it pass without more detailed inspection. And I want to add that I nevertheless appreciated all your input here.

Rayas is Rayas.

When it comes to Grenache, I don’t really like Grenache but I often like Garnacha. For some reason the French versions of the variety (even more so when it comes to the new world) are softer, lower in color and acidity and higher in alcohol with more sweeter-toned fruit, whereas in Spain the wines are darker in color, higher in acidity, more tannic, often lower in alcohol and not as sweet in fruit. The difference between Rhône and Catalonia can be quite significant, and Sierra de Gredos is a completely different story altogether.

But Rayas is one of the few producers who can make impressive wines from Grenache. The wines do feel more “Rhône” than “Garnacha”, but without the typical pitfalls. Lenzenwöger’s Definitely Red is another superb 100% Grenache from Rhône.

This much I’ve understood! I just couldn’t add it to the list because I have never had a Charvin Pape.

1 Like

For me, the changeover in Clos des Papes came with the 2003. Because of the nature of that vintage, I gave them a couple of more tries, but after 2005, I was out. I loved the 00s and 01s and the wines before that, but not since, really.

On what makes a CdP modern or traditional, absence of obvious spoof in the cellar–new oak, non-ambient yeast, etc.–is not sufficient. Since Cambie, seeking overripeness and high alcohol–although climate change pushes in that direction–is also part of the issue. Not liking CdP is one thing. Not liking rocket fuel is another. For me, Clos des Papes become rocket fuel from 03 onward. I haven’t tasted any vintage after 05 or 06, but your tasting confirms that it has not gone back.

I think that’s been true of a number of CdP producers, that 2003 was a kind of boundary. There is a shop near me that used to have horizontal tastings of some of the better producers, and I liked fewer and fewer of them (and 2003 was generally horrible). Still bought a little Vieux Telegraphe for a few years.


Fantastic tasting notes and thank you for being so honest! I like (not love) CdP however would I drink it every night? Hell no, I feel Beaucastel and Clos des Papes are probably the top of the bunch, but also are very much a fruit bomb when young, far away from finesse and elegance. Also I do agree that with Al% creeping up that can sometimes be overwhelming, I am on the fence, I buy a couple of bottles a year but would not buy any of these wines by the case.


I generally agree with this. Haven’t had a Papes since the 05 but had many wonderful bottles from the 90s. It’s a shame but I’d expect more of this from “outlier traditional” producers in regions that will be impacted by climate change.

1 Like