Grape(s): Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsault
Localization: Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone Valley, France
Tasting Notes: This estate always makes a traditionally styled wine and their 2018 Châteauneuf Du Pape is no exception, revealing a medium ruby/purple color as well as spicy, gamey notes of red and black currants, smoked game, peppery garrigue, and new saddle leather. Medium to full-bodied, with terrific elegance (which is the vintage), a gorgeous texture, and outstanding length, this is classic, old-school Châteauneuf du Pape done clean, balanced, and brilliantly! It’s going to evolve nicely for 15 years or more.
94 point Jeb Dunnuck: From an estate that seems to have hit another level over the past 5-7 years or so, the 2020 Châteauneuf Du Pape reveals a deeper plum/purple color as well as charming, complex aromas and flavors of ripe blackberries, mulberries, peppery garrigue, flowers, and orange blossom. Medium to full-bodied on the palate, it shows the more charming, mid-weight style of the vintage, has silky tannins, wonderful overall balance, and outstanding length. It's not going to match the top vintages from this estate, but it's going to put a smile on your face any time over the coming 15 years or so.
Notes: The secret to the success of Le Vieux Donjon is really no secret at all. They have tremendously old vines (many in excess of 80 years of age) and they are experts at picking only once the grapes have achieved optimum ripeness. Partial de-stemming is practiced, as is a rather lengthy maceration. The juice is then fermented in cement tanks before spending 18-24 months maturing in neutral foudres. As is the case at Clos des Papes, only one cuvée is produced.
The Domain: Le Vieux Donjon, as it exists today, was created in 1979 with the marriage of Lucien and Marie José Michel. Both Lucien and Marie José's parents owned vineyards in the region, and those holding were combined to form Le Vieux Donjon. The Domaine covers fourteen hectares of vineyards (all farmed organically), thirteen planted to red grapes and one planted to white. Michel's holdings are primarily in the North and Northwest of the AOC, but they also have small plots in the Southwest and East. Their most important parcel is Pialons, and the grapes from the 2008 come from that parcel as well as those in Cabrieres, Bois de Boursan, Les Marines and Le Mourre de Gaude. The soils are mainly limestone and clay and are studded with the famed galets roulé, the round, rust-colored stones which were left behind after the retreat of the Alpine glaciers which once covered the region.