Domaine de la Janasse Chateauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes 2018
In contrast to Chaupin, which is made from old-vine Grenache on sandy soils, the cuvée Vieilles Vignes is from old vines of Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah along with smaller percentages of other permitted varieties that are grown in these old vineyards. The wine is sourced from 4 terroirs: pebbly clay, sand, gravelly red clay and sandy limestone. Vieilles Vignes is always the most powerful and concentrated Châteauneuf-du-Pape cuvée made at Domaine de la Janasse.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The magnificent 2018 Chateauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes continues the string of successes under this label. While a bit less expressive on the nose than the other cuvées, it's impossibly voluminous on the palate. Full-bodied and expansive in the mouth, it's also rich and velvety, with ample tannic structure to support its almost overwhelming generosity. A whirl of mixed raspberries and blackberries join with salted licorice and dark chocolate, culminating in a long finish that combines more-ish salinity with the dusty essence of crushed stone.
This offers up a lushly textured set of crushed plum, boysenberry and blackberry fruit flavors scored with licorice snap throughout and laced with black tea on the finish. A subtle mineral edge peeks through the wall of fruit on the finish. For the cellar. Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. Best from 2023 through 2038.
Dark violet. A deeply perfumed bouquet evokes ripe red/blue fruits, incense and exotic spices, and a floral accent builds as the wine opens up. Sweet and expansive in the mouth, offering lush black raspberry, boysenberry and spice cake flavors that are energized by a core of juicy acidity. Shows excellent clarity and solid, spicy thrust on a long, sweet finish framed by velvety tannins.
Showing nicely, the 2018 Châteauneuf Du Pape Cuvée Vieilles Vignes shows the softer, elegant style of the vintage yet still has ample depth of fruit as well as a classic profile. Notes or red and black fruits, peppery herbs, nori, licorice, and scorched earth all give way to a full-bodied, beautifully balanced 2018. It’s already hard to resist, with silky tannins and no hard edges, and it says weightless on the palate. It’s not going to be the longest-lived version of this cuvée but it’s going to put a smile on your face anytime over the coming 10-15 years.
Domaine de la Janasse has quickly become one of the Superstar estates of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Led by the dynamic Christophe Sabon, the estate combines the best of both traditional and modern techniques to craft a collection of truly riveting wines from “simple” value-priced VDP’s to benchmark Chateauneufs.
The estate was founded in 1976 by Aimé Sabon, Christophe’s father, who still oversees the vineyards and farms organically. The property consists of 40 Hectares, spread over as many as 70 different parcels throughout the appellation.
While Aime works in the vineyards, his son, Christophe Sabon, is in charge of wine production. Christophe is a self-proclaimed “great defender of Grenache,” which still represents 75% of their vines. He manages the common rusticity of Grenache-based wines through meticulous work in the vineyards and cellar. The result is a wide range of lavishly ripe, extracted Chateauneuf-du-Papes and Cotes-du-Rhônes that are complex and yet balanced with acidity -- often in contradiction to an appellation better known for sheer exuberance and power. As Robert Parker points out: “The young and talented Christophe Sabon continues to display the sure-handed touch of a veteran winemaker”.
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, Châteauneuf-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 Châteauneuf-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 Châteauneuf-du-Pape is white wine. 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.