August 29, 2007
Châteauneuf-du-Pape Tasting

Another in a series of dinner/tastings, this was held at the Canyon Lodge American Grill (at The Aliso Creek Inn) in Laguna Beach. Everone ordered off the menu, so no attempt is was made to match dishes to the wines. That said, all the carnivores instinctively ordered the rack of lamb.


  • 2005 Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc La Crau -
    Lovely notes of candlewax, sweet lemon, and floral aromas. Nice minerality through midpalate and very good balance.
  • 2005 Ampelos Viognier - Santa Ynez Valley
    Light notes of white and yellow peach, with the slightest hint of floral aromas.
  • 2004 François Chidaine Montlouis-sur-Loire Les Tuffeaux - Montlouis-sur-Loire
    Flinty and a bit steely initially, the mouthfeel is something akin to waxy, but not quite. Nice enough, though I wouldn't go looking for it.
  • 1990 Bosquet des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape -
    This had a slight bricking at the rim of the otherwise medium garnet color. Funky, produce-laden scent (wet lettuce), with a bit of candied strawberry and very nice smoky quality to the spices. Spicy mouthfeel, with almost a sense of hot pepper, fading flavors through the latter palate. Better nose than mouth.
  • 1998 Domaine de Beaurenard (Paul Coulon et Fils) Châteauneuf-du-Pape -
    Medium-dark ruby color. Very smoky, with a mint/menthol quality, and lightly grilled meats. Tasty, very nice balance, with wild strawberry and rhubarb flavors and a sense of tannins on the palate. This is going to be wonderful with a few more years on it.
  • 1999 Domaine de la Solitude (Lançon Père et Fils) Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Barberini -
    This baby was corked (reeked of TCA), though with some heavy swirling you could sense what might have been there. Bummer.
  • 2000 Éric Texier Châteauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes -
    Beautiful ruby-garnet color. Fascinating nose of red and black fruit, melon, seemingly perfect ripeness, a sappy almost resin-like quality, and orange zest. Young in mouthfeel with moderate tannins, yet the fruit comes pumping through. Big concentrated and chewy, with a hint of bretty quality to the dark fruit. Very very long finish. Really nice!
  • 2000 Clos des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape -
    Medium garnet color. Vague hint of stemmy/whole cluster quality, big ripe effusive new World nose with tons of red and black raspberry. Excellent balance and structure; has the barest hint of volatile acidity (VA).
  • 2000 Domaine Paul Autard Châteauneuf-du-Pape -
    This nose smelled French! Smoky and brooding red and black fruit, Kalamata olive, capers and spices. Almost a roasted quality to the fruit (think Cote Rotie), with mouthwatering acids and very long finish.
  • 2001 E. Guigal Châteauneuf-du-Pape -
    Lovely orange blossom and floral scents aren't quite enough to mask the obvious hint of brett in the nose. Acid-based balance in mouthfeel, but the Guigal seems to deliver more sweeter substance on the palate than the previous '00 Autard.
  • 2003 Saint-Cosme Châteauneuf-du-Pape -
    Knockout nose of beef bourgogne and portobello really jack up the intensity in the nose. Here is a case where mouth follows nose: lots of meaty qualities, drippings, charcuterie, etc. This was a decidely different take on CdP, but I loved it.
  • 2003 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape -
    This was a worthy substitute for Clos du Mont Olivet that didn't materialize. Lovely nose of raspberry and floral aromas, with a spicy orange infusion. Excellent balance, delicious red and black flavors, and nice long finish.
  • 2003 Domaine du Vieux Lazaret Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Exceptionelle -
    Dark ruby-garnet in color. Very smoky, with a Cote Rotie quality. Touches of balsamic and mushroom add to the spicy dark fruit. Beautiful balance, excellent fruit and spice, and very long seamless finish. Excellent!
  • 2004 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape -
    Effusive nose of very ripe fruit spice and soy. Huge and chewy mouthfeel, this wine seemed riper and sweeter than the '03 version, bordering on a prune-like quality.
  • 2004 Clos des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape -
    Smooth yet a bit shy throughout, this wine could easily be mistaken for slumbering at the moment. I sat with this for awhile to see if it came out of it's shell, but it never really did. Hey, maybe is IS slumbering.
  • 2005 Cuvée du Vatican Châteauneuf-du-Pape -
    Interesting backnotes in this wine had me thinking there was a very healthy dose of Syrah in there. A bit dark and brooding, with a peppery streak, along with some tarry aspects. Well balanced and smooth, this seemed to hit more bass than treble notes.
  • 2005 Domaine Pierre Usseglio & Fils Châteauneuf-du-Pape -
    The nose of this wine also betrayed some Syrah, confirmed by the back label stating that it was indeed 50/50 Grenache and Syrah. Nose of crushed oranges and red fruit lying on an asphalt road (yes, I liked it). Big rich and mouthfilling, with excellent balance and wonderful flavors. Nice enough nose, but a definite WOW mouthfeel!
  • 2005 Domaine Paul Autard Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée La Cote Ronde -
    Just huge throughout. This seemed almost Petite Sirah-based, with it's nearly impenetrable heavy mouthfeel, yet ironically smooth finish. Hell of a wine, but very backward right now.
  • 2005 Domaine de la Janasse Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Chaupin -
    Spicy dark red fruit, with a bit of cured meat. Big with nice tannins, very good balance of acids, juicy fruit-filled mouthfeel, with a nice kick of tannins at the entry and at the finish.
  • 2004 Domaine Isabel Ferrando Châteauneuf-du-Pape Colombis -
    If one wine in the flight could be described as New World-like, this would be it. Very spicy nose of dark fruit, it almost screamed Aussie. Nice profile, seemingly no heat, but a very big wine, with just a slight bitterness on the extended finish.


August 4-5, 2007

Finding myself up in Santa Barbara County for the annual Clos Pepe BBQ, I took the opportunity to pay a another visit to Jonata vineyards (the large Ballard Canyon property owned by the Screaming Eagle pair, Charles Banks and Stan Kronke), and try a few wines as well. also on the docket, a stop at Departure wines, and finally a long-time-coming visit to Buttonwood Winery to see how their new winemaker, Karen Steinwachs (former assistant winemaker at Fiddlehead ) was doing in her new digs - and how she was getting along with Bordeaux varietals.

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