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Châteauneuf-du-Pape: Best Buys

CHATEAUNEUF DU PAPE BEST BUYS

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Full-bodied reds with gobs of sweet fruit and tannins pair perfectly with big meat dishes. If this is what you crave, the reds of Châteauneuf-du-Pape rarely disappoint. These wines are blends of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre (there are 15 additional grapes which are also permitted in the blend). Red Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines are usually rich and hedonistic.

The reds of Châteauneuf-du-Pape are where I cut my teeth on fine French wines. What’s the bottle that did it for me? It’s the classic Châteauneuf-du-Pape from Clos des Papes (Paul Avril). The rich palate and perfect blend of fruit, meat, and leather notes held on to me and since then, I’ve never looked back (Avril was one of the key people responsible for creating the appellation and his wine still remains a collectors favorite today).

The bottle that did it for me. You can see my Vivino tasting notes were pretty sophisticated back then 🤣.

Today there are many collectible Châteauneuf-du-Papes that easily reach several hundred dollars a bottle. Luckily, you don’t need to spend that much money to drink world-class wine in this appellation. There are hundreds of producers that create great Châteauneuf-du-Pape at reasonable price points.

This isn’t an article about Rayas, Beaucastel, Clos des Papes, or Henri Bonneau. Those wines are excellent with prices that can command several hundred dollars a bottle. This is an article about bottles of Châteauneuf-du-Pape that reach greatness without breaking the bank. All of these wines (with the exception of one) can be found for 60 USD and under per bottle.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape Recent Vintages

Consumers have a lot of choices thanks to the latest vintages of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The region has been blessed with four excellent vintages in a row. The 2018s are starting to hit the market now but there are plenty of 2015s, 2016s, and 2017s still available. After tasting extensively tasting through the vintages, here are my impressions.

2015 – Regarded as an exceptional vintage. Along with 2016, these two vintages rank among the greatest vintages in the region. These wines tend to be darker in color with more concentrated and dark fruit flavors. Tannins are tough in these wines and they are just starting to really unfurl now.

2016 – My favorite of these four vintages. The wines tend to be Grenache dominant and lighter in color. The fruit is in more of the red fruit spectrum with vibrant acidity (not a common theme in Châteauneuf-du-Pape). These wines are a joy to drink now and should age beautifully. Alcohol levels in these wines are slightly lower than the other three vintages.

2017 – Very similar to the 2015s. These wines are darker in color with tough tannins. They might not be as long-lived as the 2015s but time will be the ultimate test.

2018 – Another vintage where dark fruit and color dominate. These wines are just starting to reach the market and are like 2017 with softer tannins. They should drink beautifully the minute you take them home.

Wine Recommendations:

You can find out more about our scoring system on the WINE RATING page.

  • Domaine Giraud, ‘Grenaches du Pierre’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2018

The Domaine Giraud, ‘Grenaches du Pierre’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape is pure Grenache from 100-year-old vines, only raised in concrete. Intense notes of dried strawberry, meat, black pepper, garrigue, and a touch of wax. Intense notes of fruit on the mid-palate. Complete wine from start to finish. Extra sweet and fine-grained tannins. The high alcohol might bother some but nonetheless, it’s an exciting wine. Score: 94/100

  • Cellier des Princes, Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2018

Cellier des Princes is a cooperative. This is mostly Grenache with just a touch of Syrah and Mourvèdre aged in concrete. Notes of stewed strawberry, cherry, peppered meat, and rose petal. Super silky mouthfeel with some bitter tannins. Plenty of pleasure and complexity. It might not be a long-lived wine, but it’s a ton of fun to drink now. Medium-bodied, balanced CDP. For a wine that can be found around the world around 25 USD, this represents a screaming value. Score: 91/100 – BEST BUY

  • Domaine du Calcernier, ’La Fortune du Pot’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2016

Domaine du Calcernier is a tiny, garage winery. Their ‘La Fortune du Pot’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape is made of Grenache and Mourvèdre from the Lieu-dit (vineyard area) of La Crau. Notes of mahogany, thyme, stewed strawberry, leather, and pepper – very complex. A big, rich red with plenty of refinement. There’s enough fruit and structure to last in the bottle. This can be drunk now but it really needs more time in the bottle to spread its wings. Handles the 16% ABV well and reminds me of a wine from well-regarded producer Clos des Papes. Score: 94/100

*We also highly recommend the Domaine du Calcernier, ‘Les Notes d’Aline’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2017. It’s a unique blend of Grenache and Cinsault.

  • Domaine des Chanssaud, ‘Chanssaud d’Antan’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2015

The Domaine des Chanssaud, ‘Chanssaud d’Antan’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a reserve wine and made of 90% Grenache with the rest Syrah and Mourvèdre. The grapes are organically certified and come from old vines. The Mediterranean brush and brown herbs come out first and are accompanied by strawberry, cherry cola, and chocolate notes. The incense and garrigue notes are what stand out the most, not the fruit. If drinking young, this wine needs a lot of time to air before serving. The nose is gorgeous, I just want a little more from the palate. Score: 90/100

  • Domaine Pegau, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Lawrence 2013

The ‘Cuvée Lawrence’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape by Domaine Pegau is made in the same way as their standard ‘Cuvée Réservée’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape. the only difference is that the ‘Cuvée Lawrence’ is kept in the barrel longer and released with bottle age. It’s the most expensive wine in this article but does offer value because it gives you the opportunity to taste mature Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

This is made of Grenache with a slew of other permitted varieties. My bottle is a little corked but there is enough here to feel. Notes of leather, mocha, cherry, strawberry. Full-bodied, yet elegant. There’s a good balance between savory and fruit notes. Intense minerality with fine tannins. Long, leathery finish. Score: 94/100

*The Domaine Pegau, ‘Cuvée Réservée’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2017 is also highly recommended.

  • Domaine de Ferrand, Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2016

Domaine de Ferrand is a tiny, certified organic producer. Their Châteauneuf-du-Pape is mostly Grenache (85%) with Mourvèdre, Bourbolenc, Syrah, and Cinsault that sees no wood. This again smells like a Red Burgundy. The leather, earthy, and soil notes come to the forefront. Fruit notes include strawberry, red raspberry, and licorice. Refined on the palate with endless depth. Alcohol is under control, long finish. Tannins are tough and chewy. Score: 94/100

  • Domaine de Ferrand, Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2017

This is an absolute STEAL in the world of fine wine. The Domaine de Ferrand, Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2017 is mostly Grenache (85%) with Mourvèdre, Bourbolenc, Syrah, and Cinsault that sees no wood. Notes of strawberry, spiced dried plum, leather, and white pepper. This baby acts more like a Red Burgundy. It’s constantly changing in the glass and has many layers of flavor. Many people would never pinpoint this as a Mediterranean red. The alcohol is in check and it really acts like a cooler climate wine. No hard edges with chewy tannins with a long finish. Score: 94+/100 – BEST BUY

  • Domaine du Grand Tinel, ‘Alexis Establet’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2016

The Domaine du Grand Tinel, ‘Alexis Establet’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape is 100% Grenache from old vines. What a stellar wine. It’s like a blend of the Northern Rhône and Southern Rhône. Intense notes of dried strawberry, bacon fat, herbs, meat, and pepper. Full-bodied, this has generous amounts of fruit on the palate. The alcohol is high but integrated well. Fine-grained tannins and a spicy finish. Super complex, this is outstanding and also steal in the world of fine wine. Score: 95/100 – BEST BUY

  • Domaine des Pères de l’Eglise, ‘Le Calice de Saint Pierre’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2018

The Domaine des Pères de l’Eglise, ‘Le Calice de Saint Pierre’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape is made mostly of Grenache with a touch of Mourvèdre and Syrah. Notes of cherry, beef jerky, dried strawberry, mocha, and pepper. This is a modern, clean Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It’s a full-bodied with generous fruit. This is surprisingly approachable now. Once it gains complexity with bottle age, this could be brilliant. Very well done oak management. Score: 90+/100

  • Domaine des Pères de l’Eglise, ‘L’Heritage de Pollus’ Châteaeuneuf-du-Pape 2017

The ‘L’Heritage de Pollus’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape is 100% Grenache aged in demi-muids (600L casks) for 15 months. This is a big, ripe wine. Notes of stewed strawberry, raspberry, rare steak, and mocha. This is a style of wine that reminds of me some Napa Cabs or big Shiraz from Barossa. Fine tannins and the density to age well. Put this in your cellar for another 5-7 years so the baby fat can fall off. It’s a very good wine but doesn’t taste like a typical Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Score: 92/100

  • Domaine La Fagotière, Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2017

The Domaine La Fagotière, Châteauneuf-du-Pape is half Grenache with Mourvèdre and Syrah. It’s tight on the nose at first and needs air to show its best. Violets jump out of the glass here along with cherry, strawberry, meat, and mocha. Very elegant palate with supple tannins. The acidity comes out here along with a streaky mineral note on the finish. This is a delicious, straightforward Châteauneuf-du-Pape that is sure to be a crowd-pleaser with the stuffing to age well. It’s certified organic and can be found at the lower end of the price spectrum for red Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines. Score: 92/100 -BEST BUY

  • Domaine Galevan, Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2016

The Domaine Galevan, Châteauneuf-du-Pape is Grenache with a touch of Mourvèdre. There’s a note of soy sauce and leather here with the stewed strawberry, cherry, and plum notes. There’s a rustic, meaty quality to this wine which I enjoy. The fruit is really ripe on this full-bodied wine with supple tannins. More of a traditional style of wine. Score: 90+/100

  • Domaine Bosquet des Papes, ’A la gloire de mon Grand-Père’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2017

Bosquet des Papes is a classic producer that brings excellent quality and their wines age well. The ‘A la gloire de mon Grand-Père’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape is 98% Grenache with a touch of Cinsault and Clairette. Clean and focused flavors of strawberry, sour cherry, sun-baked soil, and white pepper notes. Traditional yet clean Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Full-bodied and plenty of fruit. The tannins are pretty chewy and astringent now but this should do well with some medium-term aging. Score: 93/100

  • Domaine Bois de Boursan, Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2017

Bois de Boursan makes classic, old-school Châteauneuf-du-Pape out of a tiny cellar. This is mostly Grenache with Syrah, Mourvèdre, and 5% other permitted grapes. Incredibly complex with notes of sour cherry, white pepper, game, leather, and violets. This is an elegant wine, not a big bruiser, this is a wine with plenty of layers, firm tannins, and a long finish. These wines age gracefully and this should be no exception. Score: 95/100 – BEST BUY

  • Domaine Les Cailloux, Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2016

The Domaine Les Cailloux (Andrè Brunel), Châteauneuf-du-Pape is Grenache with Mourvèdre, Syrah, and Cinsault aged in mostly concrete. Notes of strawberry, beef jerky, soil, plum, and a boatload of pepper. Full-bodied but not overly bruising. Everything about this wine is in harmony. It’s a fantastic example of Châteauneuf-du-Pape with a super spicy finish. This is what I want Châteauneuf-du-Pape to taste like! Great wine from a legendary producer. Score: 95/100 – BEST BUY

  • Domaine Les Cailloux, Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2017

The 2017 from Domaine Les Cailloux is made from Grenache with Mourvèdre, Syrah, and Cinsault aged in mostly concrete. This is darker and denser than the 2016. Notes of smoked meat, plum, cherry, leather, and black licorice. This is a wine that has a great interplay between fruit and earth. Very complex even though it is so young. Powerful tannins on the backend suggests this should be great in the cellar. Score: 92+/100

  • Château de la Gardine, ’Peur Bleue’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2018

The Château de la Gardine, ‘Peur Bleue’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape is equal parts Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre aged in stainless steel and made with no sulfites added. This wine has more pure fruit and incense notes than the standard Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Notes of blue fruit, black cherry, licorice, stem, and incense flavors. This is clean without flavors of oak. There are no brett or leather notes here. Chewy tannins and a good finish. This needs a lot of time to breathe to show its true colors. Score: 92+/100

*This wine is bottled with a little CO2 for protection, so make sure to decant and shake out the small bubbles.

  • Domain Chante Cigale, Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2017

The Domaine Chate Cigale, Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2017 represents a new direction for the winery and one we mightily applaud. It is Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre with a hint of Cinsault aged in stainless steel and concrete. Dark in color with a meaty, gamey nose that pops out of the glass. Notes black raspberry, red plum, pepper, and sage also emerge. This is round with rich, mouth-coating fruit. It’s ripe but not stewed. The tannins and sneakily firm. Beautiful wine, I really like this fruity but non-oaky style of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Score: 93/100

  • La Bastide Saint Dominique, ’Secrets de Pignan’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2017 

The La Bastide Saint Dominique, ‘Secrets de Pignan’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape is 100% Grenache. Big, ripe, and structured but don’t dismiss it as a jam bomb, there’s a lot going on here. Plenty of stewed strawberry, stewed beef, pepper, and smoke. This has real power in the mid-palate. Tough tannins. Put this aside for several years to allow tertiary notes to form. Score: 94/100

  • La Bastide Saint Dominique,‘Les Hespérides’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2017

The La Bastide Saint Dominique, ‘Les Hespérides’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a 50/50 blend of Grenache and Mourvèdre. I thought the high proportion of Mourvèdre would make this wine too powerful but that’s not the case. Full-bodied and rich with plenty of dark cherry, ripe strawberry, stewed meats, mocha, and pepper. It’s round on the palate and the tannins have a ripe, chewy character to them, they aren’t overly drying. A big boy Châteauneuf-du-Pape that needs air if you open it young. Score: 92+/100

  • Domaine Mas Saint Louis, Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2015

Domaine Mas Saint Louis produces old-school Châteauneuf-du-Pape and has older vintages available for purchase. This is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre with other permitted grape varieties. Showing some development now with sweet cherry, dried strawberry, crushed rock, tomato leaf, and pepper. This is full-bodied and round, it’s got the perfect amount of fruit, development, and tannin structure at this point. Long finish. Score: 93/100

  • Domaine Mas Saint Louis, ’Grand Réserve’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2017

The Domaine Mas Saint Louis, ‘Grand Réserve’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape is the top wine of the estate. It’s a blend of Grenache and Mourvèdre. This is darker and denser than the other two Châteauneuf-du-Pape bottlings from this estate. Full-bodied and ripe with darker fruit notes of cherry, stewed strawberry along with meat, leather, and pepper notes. It’s massive and round on the palate with fierce tannins. This wine has a future in the cellar. Score: 92/100

  • Château Sixtine, Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2018

The Châteaue Sixtine, Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre aged in large oak casks. This is big and intense. There are notes of blue fruit, raspberry, dried strawberry, pepper meat, and garrigue. This is a full-bodied monster. There are tons of sweet fruit and pepper on the palate. It finishes with big tannins but they have a wonderful ripeness and savoriness to them. Score: 93/100

  • Château Mont Thabor, Châteauneuf-du-Pape

This beauty from Château Mont Thabor is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Cinsault made with whole clusters and aged in old barrels for a year. Very pretty nose with violets, cassis, black cherry, and smoked meat. This almost smells more like a pure Syrah than a Châteauneuf-du-Pape red.  It’s intense and mouth-filling. The fruit is intense upfront but the wine has a savory quality to it. Tough tannins and high acidity. This is one of the rare CdP rouges that I’d love to see aged for 10+ years. Score: 93/100 – BEST BUY

*******

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Thanks to the Fédéracion des Producteurs de Châteaneuf-du-Pape and the wineries for arranging samples to be sent. The opinions expressed in this article are unsolicited and have not been paid for in any way by governmental bodies, enterprises, or individuals. We do not sell editorial content as that would destroy the legitimacy of our reviews and the trust between Exotic Wine Travel and its readers. On occasion, we extend the option of purchasing the wines we review or/and the products we spotlight. Some of these product links are set up through affiliate programs, which means Exotic Wine Travel gets referral credits if you choose to purchase these items via the links we provide.

DR MATTHEW HORKEY
DR MATTHEW HORKEY
Author | Speaker | Wine Nerd
https://exoticwinetravel.com

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