I have a confession to make. I’m an unabashed lover of Chateauneuf du Pape. There, I said it. And I am proud of it! If you’re also a fan of wines from the Southern Rhone Valley, you’re in luck. With the exception of 2002, it’s been really difficult to find a vintage from the last several years that has not produced good wine. The plethora of good vintages has helped keep prices down for most wines. This is important because for some odd reason, Chateauneuf du Pape remains the wine world’s best kept secret.
Yes, at the top end, the best of the best Chateauneuf du Pape wines can be expensive. But once past that rarified level, most great Chateauneuf du Pape remains affordable. OK, I admit, I prefer the depth and concentration found in 2010 over the easy to like charms of 2011 Chateauneuf du Pape. But there are some very nice wines from this semi-maligned vintage that are worth looking at.
2011 Chateauneuf du Pape is a drinker’s vintage. The wines offer more complexity, depth and riper fruit than found in 2008. 2011 Chateauneuf du Pape are wines of pleasure made to consume while waiting for the more tannic 2010 to age and develop. It’s interesting to note that while many of these wines are high in alcohol, several are in the 15.5% alcohol range, they do not show any sensation of heat. At their best, they are fresh, lively and fun to drink.
That is not to say that the better wines are not going to get better. They are. But most 2011 Chateauneuf du Pape wines at all ends of the price spectrum are ready to drink on release and will probably show best during their first decade of life.
The following wines were not tasted blind. They were all tasted in June, 2014 in Chateauneuf du Pape.
2011 DOMAINE DE BEAURENARD BOISRENARD – A hint of oak is matched with sweet black cherry in the nose and fleshy, plush textures. The wine ends with a touch of oak and round, sweet red berries. Modern in style, I liked it, but others might not like it as much. This blend of 13 varietals turned out to be 14.5% alcohol. 91 Pts
2011 DOMAINE BOIS DE BOURSAN CUVEE DES FELIX – Menthol and crisp, peppery red berries pair with soft, silky textures and a polished, cherry finish. From a blend of 65% Grenache, 25% Mourvedre, 5% Syrah and the remainder coming from assorted varietals, the wine reached 14.5% alcohol. 91 Pts
2011 DOMAINE DU BOSQUET DES PAPES CHANTE LE MERLE VIEILLES VIGNES – Blending 85% Grenache, 10% Syrah and 5% Mourvedre produced a wine with a smoky, incense and red berry nose. Fresh, silky, lush and concentrated, the wine ends with a blast of kirsch liqueur in the finish. This should get better with a few years of age. 92 Pts
2011 CLOS DU CAILLOU LES QUARTZ – With 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah in the blend, the wine is mineral driven, with dark, peppery, red fruits and herbs in the nose, finishing with silky, fresh, sweet kirsch and spice. 92 Pts
2011 CLOS DU CAILLOU RESERVE – Charcoal, barbecue, herbs and ripe, red berry notes create the inviting fragrance. In the mouth, the wine is lush and polished, making the intense fresh, spicy fruits come alive. Clearly, this is one of the top wines of the vintage. Produced from 60% old vine Grenache and 40% Mourvedre, the wine reached 16% alcohol without any sensation of heat. 95 Pts
2011 CAVE SAINT PIERRE LA TIARE IMPERIALE – Medium bodied, fresh red berries are complicated by dark, juicy plum and spice in the easy going finish. 89 Pts
2011 LA CELESTIERE CUVEE CONFIDENTIELLE – From 100% Grenache, the wine is packed with silky, polished, juicy plums and cherry notes with a fresh, peppery, sweet, red fruit finish. The wine reached 15% alcohol. 91 Pts
2011 LA CELESTIERE LA CROZE – Polished, fresh and pure, the elegant, silky, cherry dominated wine was produced from 100% Grenache. 88 Pts
2011 LA CELESTIERE LES DOMAINES – Elegant and forward, the wine serves up soft, sweet, cherries and spice in the medium bodied finish. Produced from a blend of 70% Grenache, and 30% Mourvedre, the wine reached 14.5% alcohol. Give it a few years to soften. 90 Pts
2011 CHAPOUTIER CROIX DE BOIS – Anise and fresh cherries on the nose lead you to a medium bodied, forward, fresh, elegant kirsch wine from 100% Grenache that is ready for drinking today. 91 Pts
2011 CHAPOUTIER BARBE RAC – Pure, sweet, vibrant and silky, the supple textured wine delivers a lot of polished ripe, lush fruit in the finish. Produced from 100% old vine Grenache, the wine reached 14.5% alcohol. 93 Pts
2011 DOMAINE DE LA CHARBONNIERE LES HAUTES BRUSQUIERES – Silky, polished and smooth, the fresh, sweet, black raspberries make an appearance and leave a long impression in the finish. From a blend of 60% Grenache, 39% Syrah and 1% Counoise, the wine rechaed 15.5% alcohol. 91 Pts
2011 DOMAINE DE LA CHARBONNIERE MOURRE DES PERDRIX – From 70% Grenache, 15% Mourvedre and 15% Syrah, the wine opens with notes of barbecue, black raspberry and herbs. Elegantly elegant textured, with a medium bodied finish, the wine serves up a delicious kirsch note in the finish. 90 Pts
2011 DOMAINE DE LA CHARBONNIERE VIEILLE VIGNES- Blending 90% Grenache with 10% Mourvedre produce a plush, polished black cherry, spice and peppery wine. Open in style, easy drinking silky, fresh fruits appear with a touch of dryness in the 15.5% alcohol finish. 90 Pts
2011 DOMAINE DE FONTAVIN DAVID ET GOLIATH – 95% Grenache and 5% Syrah produced a medium bodied, silky wine with sweet, black cherries and a hint of jam. The wine is fresh and forward in style and reached 15% alcohol. 90 Pts
2011 CHATEAU FORTIA CUVEE DU BARON – Bright, fresh, herbaceous red fruits and a crisp red cherry finish. The wine was produced from a blend featuring a whopping 44% Syrah, 44% Grenache and 12% Mourvedre. 89 Pts
2011 DOMAINE GIRAUD LES GALLIMARDES – This delicious wine pops with flowers, cherries and earthy scents that bring you to a mouthful of freshness, flavor and silky textured, ripe, spicy, sweet red berries. There is a good prolonged sensation of freshness in the finish. The wine was produced from 90% Grenache and 10% Syrah. 93 Pts
2011 DOMAINE GIRAUD LES GRENACHES DE PIERRE – Made from 100% old vine Grenache, this lush, soft and silky Chateauneuf shows good richness and sensuous textures from start to finish. There is a blast of fresh, cherry and jam in the end note that lingers. This is another star of the vintage. 94 Pts
2011 DOMAINE DU GRAND TINEL ALEXIS ESTABLET – Fennel, pepper, fresh herbs and notes of plum are followed by a layer of elegant, ripe, sweet red cherries and spice. Produced from 100% old vine Grenache, the wine reached 15.5% alcohol. 92 Pts
2011 DOMAINE DE LA JANASSE CHAUPIN – Polished and plush, sweet and spicy, this 100% old vine Grenache wine is open, lushly textured and serving up a lot of lusty charm. The wine reached 15.5% alcohol without any touch of heat. 93 Pts
2011 DOMAINE DE LA JANASSE VIEILLES VIGNES – Full bodied, rich and polished, the fruit is fresh, ripe and expresses purity, length and supple textures. Produced from a blend 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre, the wine reached 15.5 alcohol. 94 Pts
2011 DOMAINE L’OR DE LINE CUVEE PAULE COURTIL – Medium bodied and all about the finesse textures found in the soft, red berries. Produced from a blend of 40% Grenache, 40% Mourvedre, 10% Syrah and the remainder made up of various grapes planted in a field blend, the wine reached 15% alcohol. 89 Pts
2011 LE MAS SAINT LOUIS LES ARPENTS DES CONTREBANDIERS – Sweet jammy, red fruit notes, with hints of fruit cake and spice lead to an open, elegant, forward wine. 89 Pts
2011 LE MAS SAINT LOUIS GRANDE RESERVE – Red berries and citrus scents lead to an elegant, medium bodied, fresh, red berry wine. From a blend of 75% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre, 10% Syrah with assorted varietals making uo the remainder of the blend. The wine reached 14.5% alcohol. 88 Pts
2011 DOMAINE DE MARCOUX VIEILLE VIGNES – Kirsch liqueur and garrigue on the nose are made even better by the soft, polished, elegant, layers of supple red fruits and spice. From 100% old vine Grenache, the wine reached 15% alcohol and is clearly one of the stars of the vintage. 94 pts
2011 DOMAINE DE LA MEREUILLE LES BAPTAURELS – 5 spice, blackberry and red plum on the nose. The palate enjoys soft, silky textures and a polished, accessible finish. From 100% Grenache, the wine reached 14.5% alcohol. 90 Pts
2011 DOMAINE DU PERE CABOCHE EISABETH CHAMBELLAN – Starts off with sweet ripe cherries and kirsch, with a blast of freshness and strawberry jam in the lively finish. Produced from a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre, the wine reached 15% alcohol. 89 Pts
2011 CHATEAU MAUCOIL PRIVLEGE – Light in color, soft in texture, ripe in fruit and forward in its cherry and red plum character, the wine was produced from a blend of 50% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 12% Mourvedre, 8% Cinsault and the remainder coming from assorted varietals, the wine reached 15% alcohol. 90 Pts
2011 DOMAINE DE NALYS LE CHATAIGNIER – Better on the garrigue, earth, pepper and red fruit nose than the medium bodied, red berry finish. From a blend of 95% Grenache and 5% Mourvedre, the wine reached 15% alcohol. 89 Pts
2011 DOMAINE DE NALYS RESERVE – From a Syrah dominated blend featuring 70% Syrah, 20% Grenache and 10% Mourvedre, the wine reached 14.5% alcohol. Medium bodied with forest notes and cherry tones, the wine end with crisp red fruits and herbs. 89 Pts
2011 DOMAINE SAINT PREFERT RESERVE AUGUSTE FAVIER – Licorice, earth and black cherry scents prime you for the silky, plush, round layers of sweet, red fruits in the finish. The wine was made from a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 10% Syrah, reaching 15% alcohol. 92 Pts
2011 DOMAINE SAINT PREFERT COLLECTION CHARLES GIRAUD – Black cherry liqueur scents are all over the place before you feel the polished red fruits and tannins in the rich, concentrated, fresh finish. Blending 60% Grenache and 40% Mourvedre, the wine reached 15% alcohol. 93 Pts
2011 DOMAINE SERGUIER REVELATION – From 90% Grenache, 5% Mourvedre and 5% made up from various allowable varietals, the wine opens with sweet, ripe, fresh cherries. Medium bodied and forward, this is made in an elegant, fresh style, drink this wine young. 87 Pts
2011 DOMAINE DES TROIS CELLIER MARCEAU – Blending 67% Mourvedre, 17% Grenache, 8% Syrah and 8% Counoise, the wine reached 15% alcohol. With a nose of licorice, spice box, kirsch and earth, there is good freshness in the wine. Forward in style, drink it young, or age it a few years. 89 Pts
2011 DOMAINE RAYMOND USSEGLIO CUVEE IMPERIALE – From a blend of 95% Grenache and the remainder coming from assorted field blend varietals, the wine kicks off with black raspberries, kirsch and licorice. Plush, round sweet, ripe, plummy fruits and minerality are found in the finish. 92 Pts
2011 DOMAINE RAYMOND USSEGLIO LA PART DES ANGES – Espresso bean and spice box blended with black and blue fruits lead to an intense, rich, fat, juicy modern styled wine with purity and length. There is good potential for this wine to improve. From a blend of 70% Mourvedre, 20% Grenache and 10% Syrah, the wine reached 14.5% alcohol. 93 Pts
2011 CHATEAU DE VAUDIEU VAL DE DIEU – Elegant, fresh and inviting, with its clean sweet kirsch flavors and aromatics, the wine is sweet and polished in character. Produced from a blend of 66% Grenache, 27% Mourvedre and 7% Syrah. The wine reached 15% alcohol. 91 Pts
Depending on your point of view, I have two more reports to publish on my June tastings in the Rhone. Both reports are on the 2012 vintage. I will start editing my tasting notes over the next few days. If memory serves me, the articles should cover about 170 wines. I hope to have both articles published next week.