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Cuvee du Vatican Chateauneuf-du-Pape Reserve Sixtine 2005

Rhone Red Blends from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
  • RP94
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Winemaker Notes

"One can imagine that the 2005 Chateauneuf du Pape Reserve Sixtine is even more backward than the regular bottling. Saturated black/purple in color with a classic nose of a walk in a pine forest intermixed with roasted herbs, black cherry liqueur, cassis, and something I often pick up in this wine, an almost earthy, peppery meatiness that, for lack of a better description, reminds me of a high-class steak au poivre dish at a French bistro. This is full-bodied and deep – a wine built/made for connoisseurs who have the patience as well as the cold cellars to store it. Give it 3-5 years of bottle age and drink it over the following two decades. This is one more estate that has come back strong because of a change in generations with the young, competent Jean-Marc Diffonty replacing his father, one of the grumpy but personality-filled characters of Chateauneuf du Pape. Yet from a winemaking standpoint, the father was inflexible and unwilling to change. Diffonty has lower yields and introduced a new blend, the Reserve Sixtine which is a blend of 50% Grenache and the rest Syrah and Mourvedre, the latter two components spending time in small oak barrels."
-Wine Advocate 92-94

"Dark red. Intense oak spice notes and dusty herbs accent bright red berry aromas. Sweet and silky, with powerful raspberry and kirsch flavors, supple tannins and excellent thrust on the finish. This is wonderfully bright and energetic, with the balance to repay cellaring."
-International Wine Cellar 92-95

Critical Acclaim

RP 94
The Wine Advocate

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Cuvee du Vatican

Cuvee du Vatican

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Cuvee du Vatican, , France - Rhone
Cuvee du Vatican
Jean-Marc Diffonty is the 4th generation at the domain and has been responsible, since his father Félician Diffonty left the charge in 1993. Félician Diffonty was the mayor of Chateauneuf du Pape 1965-1995 and it was him who in 1958 named the domaine Cuvée du Vatican - with blessings by the pope! In 1996 Jean Marc was made president of the Young Winemakers of Châteauneuf du Pape.

Napa Valley

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One of the world's most highly regarded regions for wine production and tourism, the Napa Valley is the AVA that brought worldwide recognition to California winemaking. The area was settled by a few choice wine families in the 1960's who bet that the wines of the area would grow and flourish. They were right. The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when vineyard lands were scooped up and vines were planted throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, from large conglomerates to small boutiques to cult classics. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux blends. Whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Within the Napa Valley lie many smaller sub-AVAs that lend even more character specifics to the wines. Furthest south is Carneros, followed by Yountville, Oakville & Rutherford. Above those two are St.-Helena and the valley's newest AVA, Calistoga. These areas are situated on the valley floor and are known for creating rich, smooth Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. There are a few mountain regions as well, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs. Those include Howell Mountain, Stags Leap District, and Mt. Veeder. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from more time in the bottle to evolve and soften.

Zinfandel

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Unapologetically powerful, heady, and fruit-forward, Zinfandel is often thought of as a truly Californian grape, though in fact it is anything but. This variety has followed an intriguing trajectory to reach its adoptive home, beginning, surprisingly, in Croatia. Originally known as Tribidrag, it first made its way to southern Italy where it became known as Primitivo. From there it eventually migrated to what is now unarguably its most successful outpost, in California, and has thrived throughout the state. Of course, this is also the grape of White Zinfandel, a sweet pink wine that enjoyed great popularity in the 1980s and 90s. Though White Zin still has a significant following, today the variety is increasingly associated with the red version.

In the Glass

Zinfandel commonly features a bold, plush texture and notes of dark plum, blackberry, sweet spice, black pepper, dark chocolate, leather, and licorice, and can often be described as “jammy” and a little bit sweet. Very ripe examples may express a hint of dried fruit like raisin, fig, or prune. Despite its significant alcohol and weight, Zinfandel has very smooth, gentle tannins.

Perfect Pairings

Zinfandel is a powerfully flavored wine, mingling happily with bold food like brisket, lamb shanks, pork ribs, or anything barbecued. If care is taken with regards to alcohol levels, Zinfandel’s hint of sweetness can work well with milder Indian-spiced dishes like lamb curry.

Sommelier Secret

Thanks to its popularity both for home winemaking and as communion wine, many Zinfandel vines were able to survive prohibition, leading to the abundance of "old vine" Zinfandels. These low-yielding vines tend to produce wine that is concentrated, complex, and elegant.

HPR564682_2005 Item# 91466

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