Weekend Vinopolpick- October 11th

October 11, 2014

The Rhone Valley in 2012

The Rhone valley is comprised of two distinct growing regions: the North, which focuses almost exclusively on red Syrah wine, and the South, which is known for Grenache-based red blends.  Winemaking dates to the Roman era for the region as a whole, and has undergone several revivals including during the 13th century when the Pope moved to Avignon in the South.  The 2012 vintage was a challenging year for the North and a phenomenal vintage for the South.

Travel with us as we take an in-depth look as these two regions and the 2012 vintage.

Northern Rhone

The Northern Rhone is tiny in comparison to the South, accounting for around 10% of total Rhone wine production.  Its continental climate produces harsh, windy winters and warm summers.  To maximize ripeness levels, vineyards line the steep hillsides of the region.  It is difficult land to work and many vineyards require the use of ropes and pulleys to access the vines.

Syrah is the only red wine grape permitted in Northern Rhone wines with AOC designation.  Although most of the AOCs allow winemakers to include small percentages of white wines in their reds, many opt for 100% Syrah.

The North is home to the famous region of Hermitage, but also offers Syrah wines from less well-known regions.  Cornas is a tiny appellation that only recently has received some of the attention it deserves.  Officially designated in 1938, it is least affected by the cold le mistral winds.  The wines are long-lived, robust and powerful.  Cote-Rotie is known for an elegant and perfumed style of wine.  Although up to 20% Viognier is allowed in the wine, many winemakers use exclusively Syrah.  The vines are exposed to extreme winds and soil erosion on the steep hillsides.  Wines from the Cote Blonde in the Cote-Rotie are from limestone-rich soils.  Typically they are elegant and more approachable in their youth.  Wines from the Cote Brune are grown on iron-rich soils and are denser and more structured.  Saint Joseph wines range in style from heavy and dense when sourced from vineyards near Hermitage to light and fruit-forward.  Croze-Hermitage is produced from flatter vineyard land surrounding the hill of Hermitage.  The wines are usually bright and fruit-forward.

While the South enjoyed a dry, sunny harvest in 2012, Northern producers had to work hard to avoid mildew during the spring.  Buds broke early this year, as early as late March, but further growth was halted by a cool period at the start of April.  Heavy precipitation throughout April and May led to concerns over mildew.  The best growers were able to hold it at bay through careful maintenance.  Despite the early bud break, flowering was not able to occur until mid-June, making it one of the latest in 15 years.  The weather was dry during the summer, at times stressing the vines and in some areas stopping fruit set and proper maturation.  Grapes achieved excellent tannin maturity and density of flavors during the long ripening period.  Harvest began around mid-September and ended during the first week of October.


Northern Rhone Wines
Available Here Now

Saint Cosme produces several Northern Rhone wines from vineyards under contract with the Gigondas-based estate.  Louis Barroul, the owner of the estate, personally oversees vineyard management and harvest of these sites.  

Saint Cosme Cote Rotie 2012 ($79.95) $69 special, 21 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 92-94 points
“(made from whole-cluster serine grown in the Cote Brune and aged in a 50/50 combination of new and one-year-old barriques): Brilliant ruby. Smoke-accented cassis and cherry-cola on the nose, with suave floral and Indian spice nuances adding an exotic touch. Sweet dark berry preserve and violet pastille flavors show very good depth, with a peppery, spicy quality emerging with air. In an elegant style, finishing smooth, sweet and very long.” ST

Saint Cosme Crozes-Hermitage 2012 ($34.95) $29 special, 24 bottles available
Wine Advocate 90-92 points
“The 2012 Crozes Hermitage shows more oak in its dark fruits, chocolate, graphite and licorice-driven personality. Medium to full-bodied, rich and nicely concentrated, it has the stuffing to handle a year or so in the cellar and shine for upwards of a decade.” WA

Saint Cosme Saint-Joseph 2012 ($39.95) $33 special, 20 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 91-93 points
“(all serine): Dark purple. Vibrant black and blue fruit aromas are complicated by olive, violet, black tea and smoky minerals. Juicy and precise on entry, then fleshier in the mid-palate, offering intense, mouthcoating cassis and blueberry flavors given spine by tangy acidity. Shows excellent clarity on the sweet, seamless, very persistent finish.” ST

Vincent Paris’ first release was the 1997 vintage, which he produced with assistance from his Uncle Robert Michel, a well-regarded Cornas grower.  His wines are produced from his 6 hectares of estate vineyards and from 2 hectares rented from his uncle.  The vines are heavily pruned to reduce yields to only four bunches of grapes per vine.

Domaine Vincent Paris Cornas Granit 30 2012 ($59.95) $49 special, 27 bottles available
Wine Advocate 92-95 points
“Looking first at the 2012s, the Cornas Granit 30 offers a gorgeous bouquet of spring flowers, liquid rock and assorted black and blue fruits in its stylish, perfumed and elegant style. Full-bodied, rich and still youthfully grapy, this pure, balanced and classically styled Cornas will benefit from short-term cellaring and keep for 15-20 years.” WA

Domaine Vincent Paris Cornas Granit 60 Vieilles Vignes 2012 ($69.95) $59 special, 23 bottles available
Wine Advocate 94-97 points
“Similarly styled, yet slightly richer and more tannic, the 2012 Cornas Granit 60 has incredible notes of black raspberry, powdered rock, graphite, licorice and liquid violets. Also full-bodied, with superb concentration and depth, as well as a firm tannic spine, this gorgeous effort should be given 4-5 years of bottle age and consumed over the following 10-15 years.” WA

Northern Rhone Wine
Arriving October 16th

Maison Nicolas Perrin Crozes-Hermitage 2012 ($29.95) $24 pre-arrival special
Wine Spectator 92 points “This red offers a broad, fleshy feel, delivering flavors of dark plum, cherry and blackberry embedded with notes of fruitcake, black licorice and sweet spices. The toasty frame is well-integrated, and the sanguine-tinged finish offsets the fruit. Drink now through 2015.” WS



Southern Rhone

2012 in the Southern Rhone: Many of France’s major wine regions struggled in 2012 , however, the Southern Rhône stands apart, having enjoyed a dry sunny year. While yields are lower than average, crops were healthy and boasted strong ripe characteristics as harvest extended in late October. As weather patterns turn toward warmer climates overall, winemakers in cooler areas of the Southern Rhone expect to see more success than the warmer counterparts, with controlling ripeness the main key in producing quality wines. 2012 wines from the Southern Rhone seem to be marked by their fresh fruit characteristics and silky structure.
The Southern Rhône, much larger with more rounded hillsides, accounts for 90 per cent of the region’s production. The distinctly Mediterranean climate here makes for spicy wines made from a multitude of grapes. As the Rhône flows south the Mediterranean influence increases, warming vineyards more consistently year-round. The famous mistral wind keeps the hot summers dry, and helps reduce mildew and fungal disease. The mistral also, according to some, has a drying effect on grapes, causing them to lose water and acidity, helping produce the more concentrated and dense wines that this area is known for.

In the Southern Rhône, red, white, rosé and fortified wines are made. The majority are blends – 13 varieties are permitted with the main red grape being the sun-loving Grenache, but Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault are also widely grown. Southern Rhône wines share a similar rustic quality with the Northern Rhône, but have much more expressive fruit as well as being more approachable when young.

Most of Southern Rhone’s production comes from the Côtes du Rhône AOC, a vast area with many different terroirs. While Côtes du Rhône can come from a vast area around the southern end of the Rhône Valley, Côtes du Rhône-Villages comes from a tightly defined area an eighth as big on particularly favorable land northwest of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the main stand outs in the area being Cairanne and nearby AOC Rasteau. Cotes du Rhône-Villages is one of France’s best-value appellations, since the appellation was formed in 1966, five of the nearly 20 villages have been granted their own appellation status, a testament to the fine wines that can be found from this area.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape is the star AOC of the region, famous for its full-bodied, Grenache-based reds and its equally rich and delicious whites. There is considerable variation in how the wines are made, as is allowed by AOC regulations, but, whether modern or traditional, the wines of Chateauneuf du pape are known for a quality level that the surrounding areas strive to reach. The reds are made predominantly from Grenache, supplemented by Syrah, Mourvèdre and, to a decreasing extent, Cinsault, while the relatively rare whites are made from a more variable recipe including Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Bourboulenc and Roussanne. With a multitude of talented producers such as Beaucastel, Domaine de la Janasse, Vieux Télégraphe and Clos des Papes, Chateauenuf du Pape is the place to look for excellent, age worthy wines.

Other major Southern Rhône designations, both recently given AOCs outside of the Cotes du Rhone Villages designation and known for their an excellent value, include Gigondas and Vacqueyras. Gigondas tends to be made in a style similar to its neighbor Chateauneuf du Pape, but is situated in a rockier, more mountainous terrain, imparting an earthier counterpart to the Grenache dominant wines. Celebrated producers such as Saint Cosme and Pallieres are situated in this area, producing highly sought after wines each year.  Vacqueyras, an area that has steadily gained popularity in recent years, is known for slightly lighter wines that are approachable young and reasonably priced.

2012 Southern Rhone Wines – Available Now

Domaine du Trapadis Rasteau 2012 ($19.95) $16 special 2 bottles available      

Domaine Lafond Roc-Epine Cotes du Rhone 2012 ($17.95) $14 special 28 bottles available      

Domaine Alain Voge Cotes du Rhone Les Peyrouses 2012 ($24.95) $19 special 7 bottles available
Wine Advocate 90 points
“Already in bottle and made from 100% Syrah, the 2012 Cotes du Rhone Les Peyrouses is a fresh, lively and supple effort that gives up ample plum, black raspberry and mineral notes to go with surprising depth and richness on the palate. Showing outstanding length, this smoking value should be purchased by the case and consumed over the coming 4-5 years.” WA

Domaine Boisson Cotes du Rhone Villages Cairanne Cuvee L’Exigence 2012 ($34.95) $28 special 13 bottles available
Robert Parker 91-93 points
“Even better and getting a ‘Wow’ in the notes, the 2012 Cairanne l’Exigence (70% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre aged in concrete and older barrels) is a serious effort that readers should snatch up. Deep, dark and layered, with thrilling purity of fruit, integrated acidity and fine tannin, it shows the vintage purity and freshness with it dark berry, cassis, spice and tinges of wood on the nose. It’s gorgeous stuff and will age gracefully for upwards of a decade.”

Domaine Bosquet des Papes Chateauneuf-du-Pape A la Gloire de Mon Grand-Pere 2012 ($79.95) $59 special 8 bottles available
Robert Parker 94-96 points
“Looking just as good, with a slightly more approachable profile, the 2012 Chateauneuf du Pape A La Gloire de Mon Grand-Pere is a field blend of close to 100% Grenache that comes from the Gardiole lieu-dit. Aged all in demi-muid, it is an awesomely textured, seamless effort that boasts knockout aromas and flavors of kirsch, wild strawberries, herbs de Provence and red licorice. Not quite as backwards or concentrated as the Chante Le Merle, it should be approachable at an earlier age and drink brilliantly for 15 years or more. Drink 2015-2027.”

Clos des Brusquieres Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2012 ($49.95) $39 special 17 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 92-94 points
“Tasted in three components. #1: Intensely perfumed in a distinctly pinot way, offering intense red berry and floral scents and a strong mineral component. Weightless and pure, with superb focus and depth. #2: Deeper cherry and dark berry character, with notes of licorice and black tea. Shows serious depth and power, with strong finishing grip. #3: Even richer than #2, offering bitter cherry and dark chocolate aromas and flavors and a hint of candied violet. The ultimate wine should be richer than usual for this estate, whose wines are always among the purest and most delineated of the Chateauneufs that I taste every year.”

Paul Avril Clos des Papes Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2012 1.5L ($299.95) $259 special 6 magnums available
Wine Spectator 97 points
“A stunner, with a gorgeous cassis aroma that soars from the glass, reinforced by a core of cassis, cherry and plum pâte de fruit, hoisin sauce, warm ganache and well-roasted apple wood notes. Hefty, but suave and seamless. The finish lets graphite and licorice elements glide through. The structure is dense, polished and perfectly integrated, resulting in lovely length. Should be a beauty after cellaring. Best from 2017 through 2032.”
Wine Advocate 95-98 points “Tasted from multiple foudres, the 2012 Chateauneuf du Pape is stunning! Showing surprising depth and concentration in the vintage, with full-bodied richness and texture, all of the samples showed perfumed, complex aromatics, fantastic mid-palates and serious back-end structure. Less forward than the 2011, with plenty of oomph, it will most likely require short-term cellaring to come around, and have a broad drink window.”

Chateau Fortia Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Baron 2012 ($41.95) $31.90 special 33 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 89-91 points
“Inky ruby. Blackcurrant, incense and dark chocolate aromas, with a meaty topnote. Juicy, firm flavors of dark berries and bitter cherry are complicated by nuances of smoke and succulent herbs. Youthfully taut and gripping on the finish, trailing notes of licorice and bitter chocolate. Pretty serious, even brooding in character right now.”

Chateau Fortia Chateauneuf-du-Pape Tradition 2012 ($37.95) $29 special 36 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 89-91 points
“Deep ruby. Pungent aromas of cassis, blackberry, licorice and floral pastilles. Taut and focused, with bright acidity enlivening the dark fruit and bitter chocolate flavors. Finishes spicy and long, with chewy tannins and lingering notes of licorice and smoky minerals.”

Domaine Lafond Roc-Epine Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2012 ($49.95) $39 special, 11 bottles available
Wine Advocate 91-94 points
“The 2012 Chateauneuf du Pape Roc-Epine should surpass the 2011 and be up there with the 2010 in terms of quality. Rich and layered, with plenty of black raspberry fruit, licorice, pepper and tobacco leaf aromas and flavors, this medium to full-bodied wine has fantastic purity, good overall freshness and ample richness and texture. Drink 2014-2022. ”

Le Vieux Donjon Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2012 ($69.95) $49 special 6 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 92-94 points
“(75% grenache, 10% syrah, 10% mourvedre and 5% cinsault): Vivid ruby. Sexy, expansive aromas of raspberry preserves, potpourri and Asian spices show impressive clarity. Sweet, seamless and pure, offering intense red fruit and floral pastille flavors and notes of allspice and anise. The velvety, focused finish shows superb length and harmonious tannins.”

Mas de Boislauzon Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Quet 2012 ($119.95) $89 special 12 bottles available
Wine Advocate 94-96+ points
“Even more impressive and a candidate for the wine of the vintage, the 2012 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee du Quet (pronounced “kay”) is a blend of 80% tank-aged Grenache and 20% barrel-aged Mourvedre. A big, massive wine, with decadent roasted herbs, black and red fruits, licorice and scorched earth, this full-bodied, mouth-filling and brilliantly concentrated effort doesn’t lack for texture or richness, yet remains fresh and very drinkable. It should drink well for 15-20 years. Drink 2014-2032. Run by the brother and sister team of Daniel and Christine Chaussy, this brilliant estate covers just over 20 acres in Chateauneuf du Pape, most of which are in the northern part. They produce up to three Chateauneufs in top vintages and one white. In addition, their Vin de France and Cotes du Rhone Villages are always superb and sell for a song. Note: there was no Cuvee du Quet or le Tinto produced in 2011, and no Tinto in 2012.”

Domaine Pierre Usseglio et Fils Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee de Mon Aieul 2012 ($119.95) $99 special 12 bottles available
Wine Advocate 94-96 points
“Easily one of the top wines in the vintage, the superstar 2012 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee De Mon Aieul is 100% Grenache that was aged 90% in concrete tank and 10% in demi-muid. Gorgeous all around, with incredible polish and purity, it offers up copious kirsch, licorice, toasted spice and crushed flowers with a seamless, full-bodied profile. Elegant, remarkably fresh and with fine tannin, it’s hard to resist even now. Nevertheless, it should benefit from a year or three in the cellar and have 15 years of longevity. Drink 2016-2027.”

Domaine Saint-Damien Gigondas La Louisiane Vieilles Vignes 2012 ($39.95) $33 special, 3+ cases available
Wine Advocate 93-95 points
“Slightly richer and my favorite of the ‘12s, with full-bodied depth and richness, the 2012 Gigondas Louisiane delivers classic spice-box, licorice, herbs, ground pepper and sweet Grenache driven fruit in a seamless, sexy and textured package. It shows the purity of the vintage, yet has knockout richness and fruit. Drink it over the coming decade.” WA

Domaine Saint Damien Gigondas Les Souteyrades 2012 ($39.95) $31.90 special, 3+ cases available
Wine Advocate 92-94 points
“The 2012 Gigondas Souteyrades is a perfumed, elegant version of the cuvee and exhibits classic berry fruit, spice-box, licorice and wild herb aromas and flavors. Medium to full-bodied, pure, layered and textured, with building richness and fine tannin, it should be reasonably approachable on release, yet age gracefully for 12-15 years.” WA

Domaine Saint-Damien Gigondas Vieilles Vignes 2012 ($37.95) $29 special, 3+ cases available
Wine Advocate 92-94 points
“Looking at Saurel’s 2012s, the 2012 Gigondas Vieilles Vignes is a medium to full-bodied, awesomely textured effort that reveals loads of black raspberry, licorice and ground herbs. Already approachable, it nevertheless has fine tannin, beautiful mid-palate depth and impressive balance. It should impress for 10-12 years.” WA

In 2006, after working at Domaine des Relanges for many years, Olivier Hillaire decided to branch out on his own when his former father-in-law, Henri Boiron, decided to retire. Olivier purchased a mere 20% of the vineyard and since then has used his experience to produce great wines, and his charisma to become a major member of the community. Among his hand- picked and cherished plots, there grows Grenache grapevines that are over 110 years old, planted in 1899 and contained in his cuvee bottling, Les Petits d’Armand, which he named after his grandfather Armand.

Domaine Olivier Hillaire Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2012 ($59.95) $44 special 22 bottles available
Robert Parker 93-95 points
“Looking at his traditional cuvee, the 2012 Chateauneuf du Pape (a blend of mostly Grenache) is a thick, massive effort that got a big ‘wow!’ in the notes. Showing spectacular aromas and flavors of raspberry, spice, licorice and Provencal herbs, it hits the palate with full-bodied richness, layers of sweet tannin and fantastic mid-palate depth. Fruit loaded and a hedonistic dream, it should dish out tons of pleasure over the coming decade. Drink 2014-2023.”

Domaine Olivier Hillaire Chateauneuf-du-Pape Les Petits Pieds d’Armand 2012 ($119.95) $99 special 12 bottles available
Robert Parker 95-98 points
“Even better, and possibly the wine of the vintage, the 2012 Chateauneuf du Pape Les Petits d’Armand is about as fabulous an expression of old vine Grenache as you’re likely to find. Massive and decadent, yet lively and fresh, it offers up a sweet bouquet of berry fruits, licorice, incense, flowers, garrigue to go with full-bodied richness and depth, thrilling purity, good freshness and blockbuster length. Gorgeous all around, it should drink well on release, yet last for 15+ years. Don’t miss it! Drink 2014-2027.”

The Saint Cosme estate is located in the heart of Gigondas in the Southern Rhone. The Chateau at the center of estate was built in the 16th century over the remains of a Gallo-Roman era villa and wine cellar. In 1995, Louis Barruol took over from his father, Henri. From the family-owned vineyards that line the foothills of the Dentelles-de-Montmirail mountains, Barruol produces several Gigondas wines, known for their powerful fruit and surprising elegance.

Chateau de Saint Cosme Gigondas 2012 ($44.95) $38 special 50 bottles available
Wine Advocate 90-92 points
“Moving to the releases in barrel, the 2012 Gigondas (60% Grenache and the balance mostly Mourvedre, with some Syrah) has plenty of potential, with juicy black raspberry, sweet spice, licorice and toasty notes as well as medium to full-bodied richness and depth on the palate. Nicely balanced, it shows the purity of the vintage, as well as a relatively approachable style that should allow it to drink nicely on release.”

Chateau de Saint Cosme Gigondas Hominis Fides 2012 ($119.95) $89 special 23 bottles available
Wine Advocate 93-96 points
“Despite coming from sandy soils, the 2012 Gigondas Hominis Fides has a masculine, structured and almost burly profile. Underbrush, black raspberry, crushed rock, pepper and black licorice are just some of the notions here, and it hits the palate with full-bodied authority and richness. I expect it will flesh out nicely once in bottle, but it should still warrant 2-3 years in the cellar and have the capacity to keep for 20 years.”

Chateau de Saint Cosme Gigondas Le Claux 2012 ($119.95) $89 special 33 bottles available
Wine Advocate 93-96 points
“More aromatic and complex compared to the Valbelle, the 2012 Gigondas Le Claux exhibits notions of potpourri, leather, graphite and flowers to go with a full-bodied, elegant and pure profile on the palate. It too doesn’t lack for fruit or structure and should have 15-20 years of ultimate longevity.”

Chateau de Saint Cosme Gigondas Le Poste 2012 ($119.95) $99 special 8 bottles available
Wine Advocate 94-97 points
“The 2012 Gigondas Le Poste might just be the star of the three single vineyards in 2012. More fine and elegant, with thrilling lavender, flowers, forest floor and sweet berry fruit, it is full-bodied, seamless and carries masses of fine tannin in its pure, refined texture. Gorgeous all around, it too should have upward of two decades of longevity.”

Chateau de Saint Cosme Gigondas Valbelle 2012 ($79.95) $66 special 33 bottles available
Wine Advocate 92-94 points
“A bigger, richer effort, the 2012 Gigondas Valbelle is brilliant! Seamless, full-bodied, rich and beautifully textured, as well as with considerable structure, it offers notions of creamy raspberry, creme de cassis, toast and licorice in its impressive, layered personality. It got a big “Wow” in the notes and should be a wine to grab up on release.”

2012 Southern Rhone Wines – Pre- Arrival

Arriving October 17th :

Domaine Raymond Usseglio & Fils Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Girard 2012 ($49.95) $39 pre-arrival special 
Wine Advocate 89-92 points “Almost identical, the 2012 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Girard is a slightly tweaked blend of 85% Grenache, 5% Mourvedre, 5% Syrah and the rest Cinsault and Counoise, that’s aged in a combination of concrete, oak tanks and barrels. Voluptuous, textured and layered, with sweet black raspberry, licorice, spice and leafy herbs, it’s a medium to full-bodied, fruit-loaded effort to drink over the coming decade. Drink 2014-2024.” WA

Domaine Raymond Usseglio & Fils Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Imperiale 2012 ($79.95) $66 pre-arrival special
Wine Advocate 93-95 points “A field blend of close to 95% Grenache (from 100+-year-old vines) that’s aged all in concrete, the 2012 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Imperiale is one of the stars in the vintage. Offering up gorgeous Grenache character, with ripe blackberry, kirsch, licorice, old pepper and earth, it is a full-bodied, rich and voluptuously textured effort that possesses fantastic purity, loads of fruit and grippy tannin. It should be reasonably approachable on release, yet benefit from a handful of years in the cellar. Drink 2016-2027.”

Domaine Charvin Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2012 ($79.95) $66 pre-arrival special
Wine Advocate 93-96 points “More backwards and tannic, the 2012 Chateauneuf du Pape (same blend as the 2012) was tight and structured at the time of this tasting (as was the 2011, which was much more approachable and open when I tasted it from a bottle in the U.S.), with serious pepper, herbs de Provence and assorted darker berry-styled fruit. Cutting a broad path across the palate, with full-bodied richness, bright acidity and edgy tannin, it should soften up over the next year and be reasonably accessible with short-term cellaring. A solid 12-15 year drink window sounds about right. Drink 2016-2027. Consistently producing lively, fresh and elegant efforts that never lack for structure or richness, Domain Charvin is run by the soft spoken and generous Laurent Charvin. The winemaking here is very traditional, with some stem inclusion and aging completely in tank.” WA

Domaine de Ferrand Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2012 ($69.95) $56 pre-arrival special
Wine Advocate 91-94 points “Moving to the Chateauneufs, and a blend of 95% Grenache, 2% Mourvedre, 2% Mourvedre and 1% Bourboulenc, the 2012 Chateauneuf du Pape is a fresh, elegant and medium to full-bodied effort that offers up notions of crushed flowers, sappy underbrush and licorice. Very fresh, yet with solid mid-palate depth and perfect balance, it should be approachable on release and have over a decade of longevity. Drink 2014-2024.” WA

Chapelle Saint Theodoric Chateauneuf-du-Pape La Guigasse 2012 ($79.95) $69 pre-arrival special
Wine Advocate 92-94 points “As to the 2012s, both showed beautifully from barrel, and if the 2011s are any guide, have some upside. The 2012 Chateauneuf du Pape La Guigasse (same blend/elevage as the 2011) offers up a gorgeous bouquet of sappy herbs, garrigue, rosemary and mulled blackberry and currant fruit. Impressive all around, it shows the purity and freshness of the vintage and has medium-bodied richness, good mid-palate concentration and chewy tannin. Short-term cellaring might be in order here and it should have 12-15 years of total longevity. Drink 2015-2027.” WA

Arriving  December 2014:

Domaine du Vieux Telegraph is one of the better known names in Chateauneuf du Pape. The Brunier family has been producing wines at in the appellation for over 100 years. Vieux Telegraph was founded in 1898 by Hippolyte Brunier, the great, grand father of the current owners. One of the largest land holders in the Chateauneuf du Pape appellation, they use 54 hectares for the production of red wine. 6.5 hectares are used to to grow white wine grapes. Primarily owned by Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe, La Crau is by far Chateauneuf-du-Pape’s most famous lieu-dit or vineyard. Vieux Telegraph comes from fruit planted in La Crau on a terroir that is littered with large and small rocks and stones. Vieux Telegraph is usually a blend of 65% Grenache, 15% Mourvedre, 10% Cinsault and 10% Syrah.

Vignobles Brunier Domaine Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf-du-Pape La Crau 2012 ($89.95) $69 pre-arrival special
Robert Parker 93-95 points “The top wine of the estate, the 2012 Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf du Pape (which is always a blend of 65% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 15% Mourvedre and 5% Cinsault and other grapes, from 65-year-old vines) is a classic example of the cuvee and possesses gorgeous aromatics (kirsch, garrigue, big minerality and background meatiness), medium to full-bodied richness and a firm, tannic spine. As is common, it will require a handful of years in the cellar to come around and have 15+ years of longevity. Drink 2016-2027.”