Domaine de Marcoux Chateauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes 2017
The Vieilles Vignes, a cuvée made entirely from old-vine Grenache, made in vintages where the Grenache is abundant, rich and complex. It is sourced from the sandy soils of Charbonnières (planted 1900) the limestone marl of Esquierons (planted 1900/1949) and the gravelly red clay of Gallimardes (planted 1934/1959). It is aged entirely in 350L barrels for 18 months.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Made from 100% old vine Grenache sourced from the Charbonnière and Esquierons lieux-dit, the 2017 Châteauneuf Du Pape Vieilles Vignes showed brilliantly from tank last year, and it certainly didn’t disappoint this go around. In the upper tier of the vintage, it offers a rock star bouquet of pure black raspberries, kirsch liqueur, garrigue, exotic flowers, and Asian spices. Full-bodied, concentrated, and incredibly seamless on the palate, it’s one of those wines that carries an amazing amount of richness and depth yet magically stays light on its feet, elegant, and graceful. Grenache doesn’t get much better. Give it 3-4 years and enjoy bottles over the following two decades of more.
From vines planted in 1900, the 2017 Chateauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes leads with aromas of cola, raspberries and dried spices. There's none of the chocolaty excess seen in the regular cuvée, but this full-bodied wine reflects the heat of the year in its slightly coarser than usual tannins. It's full-bodied without being heavy or overdone, just chewier than normal, and likely to age a bit quickly.
In 1990, the Domaine became the first in the Chateauneuf-du-Pape to implement biodynamic farming practices. Their youngest vines are 40 to 60-years-old, and in short, the sisters do as little as possible to the harvested grapes. This domaine, as critic Stephen Tanzer put it, is "the essence of Chateauneuf-du-Pape."
In 2003, Robert Parker named Sophie and Catherine on his list of "Wine Personalities of Year," writing, "Over the last 12 years, the biodynamically farmed vineyard has risen to the top of Chateauneuf-du-Pape's quality hierarchy. The two red wines produced have been stunning, with the regular cuvée of Chateauneuf-du-Pape one of the finest in the appellation, and the limited production Cuvée Vieilles Vignes one of the world’s truly magnificent wines."
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.