Domaine Charvin Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2017
Located in the northwest part of the appellation, with vines chiefly in Cabrieres, Maucoil, and Mont Redon, Laurent Charvin makes one of the most elegant and seamless Châteauneuf-du-Papes. Opting to produce a single cuvée, the winemaking here is staunchly traditional, with no destemming and fermentation and aging occurring all in concrete tanks for 21 months, bottled unfiltered. This is a wine that can age 20 years from any vintage as well as be accessible quite young with just a little breathing.
Blend: 85% Grenache, 5% Mourvèdre, 5% Vaccarèse, 5% Syrah
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The 2017 Châteauneuf Du Pape is an awesome wine from Laurent, and while it shows the sunny, ripe, sexy style of the vintage, it never loses the elegance and purity that’s the hallmark of Charvin. Lots of kirsch, graphite, dried flowers, garrigue, and ample minerality flow to a medium to full-bodied, silky, incredibly well-balanced red that has a stacked mid-palate, building tannins, and a great finish. Give bottles 4-5 years of bottle age and it will cruise over the following two decades.
Brilliant magenta. An assertively perfumed bouquet of ripe red and blue fruits, Moroccan spices and incense carries a smoky overtone. Sweet, penetrating raspberry preserve, cherry, lavender pastille and spicecake flavors show impressive depth as well as vivacity. Displays superb clarity and floral thrust on the finish, which features smoothly interwoven tannins and lingering spiciness. This wine shows just how much complexity can be achieved, even in a hot vintage, in the absence of any oak, old or new.
Barrel Sample: 94-95
Marked by lifted aromas of red fruits and violets, now that it is in bottle the 2017 Chateauneuf du Pape is reassuringly excellent, although clearly not up to the level of this estate's best vintages. Cherries and raspberries are framed by firm but silky tannins on the medium to full-bodied palate, trailing slowly away into a dusty swirl of dark chocolate and cocoa-powder tannins on the finish.
Laurent Charvin has only 10 ha of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Until recently, Laurent was almost the only grower to still vinify traditionally, with whole-cluster fermentations. Now others are beginning to copy him. In addition to leaving the stems, Laurent’s élevage is uniquely in concrete tank, no barrel. Laurent is regarded as one of the top wine-makers in the appellation by Guy Julien, famous owner of the restaurant Beaugraviere in Mondragon, as well as other top sommeliers and wine writers in France, with a two-star rating by Revue du Vin de France.
Famous for its full-bodied, seductive and spicy reds with flavor and aroma characteristics reminiscent of black cherry, baked raspberry, garrigue, olive tapenade, lavender and baking spice, Chateauneuf-du-Pape is the leading sub-appellation of the southern Rhône River Valley. Large pebbles resembling river rocks, called "galets" in French, dominate most of the terrain. The stones hold heat and reflect it back up to the low-lying gobelet-trained vines. Though the galets are typical, they are not prominent in every vineyard. Chateau Rayas is the most obvious deviation with very sandy soil.
According to law, eighteen grape varieties are allowed in Chateauneuf-du-Pape and most wines are blends of some mix of these. For reds, Grenache is the star player with Mourvedre and Syrah coming typically second. Others used include Cinsault, Counoise and occasionally Muscardin, Vaccarèse, Picquepoul Noir and Terret Noir.
Only about 6-7% of wine from Chateauneuf-du-Pape is white. Blends and single-varietal bottlings are typically based on the soft and floral Grenache Blanc but Clairette, Bourboulenc and Roussanne are grown with some significance.
The wine of Chateauneuf-du-Pape takes its name from the relocation of the papal court to Avignon. The lore says that after moving in 1309, Pope Clément V (after whom Chateau Pape-Clément in Pessac-Léognan is named) ordered that vines were planted. But it was actually his successor, John XXII, who established the vineyards. The name however, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, translated as "the pope's new castle," didn’t really stick until the 19th century.
With bold fruit flavors and accents of sweet spice, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre form the base of the classic Rhône Red Blend, while Carignan, Cinsault and Counoise often come in to play. Though they originated from France’s southern Rhône Valley, with some creative interpretation, Rhône blends have also become popular in other countries. Somm Secret—Putting their own local spin on the Rhône Red Blend, those from Priorat often include Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah make an appearance.