2003 Clos des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rhône France Wine Tasting Note

  1. 2003 Clos des Papes (Châteauneuf-du-Pape)

    1. Concentrated, lush and full bodied, the powerful wine kicks off with jammy black cherries, pepper, figs and Provencal herbs. Not exactly delicate, this is more focused on the volume and stylistic character. There is a touch of dryness in the finish that is not off putting, but part of the wines character. There is no touch of heat or over-ripeness here. Still young, this is not your grandmother's Clos des Papes.

      95 points - Tasted
    2. Much better than a bottle tasted a few months ago, still, while there was a lot to like here, with its jammy kirsch, spice, earth and peppery profile, this is not a wine I'd hold for more development. Drink up over the next few years is my advice.

      93 points - Tasted
    3. Hopefully, as my instincts say, this was an off bottle. Much of the freshness and red fruit were missing, and instead, the wine showed an intense jammy, fig like quality that was far too overripe, and flabby. This was from the same case as other bottles that have been stunning. So, sadly, your guess was as good as mine.

      89 points - Tasted
    4. Not as robust as it was during the prime of its youth, but then who is? Layers of sweet, ripe, very ripe and over ripe dark red fruits, licorice, spice, earth, herbs and kirsch liqueur are all over the place. Rich, lusty, but not over the top, this is not a wine to hold from here.

      94 points - Tasted
    5. Perfectly ripe cherries, lavender, pepper and garrigue, with a faint hint of prune in the nose. Silky, soft and plus, with a great sense of purity, there is nothing over the top, or out of place in this wine. The sweet, ripe, cherries and kirsch carry all the way through. One could quibble and with the minor sense of heat in the finish, but that does not detract from the experience. At 11 years of age, this could be in the sweet spot.

      94 points - Tasted
    6. Ripe scents of black cherry liqueur, raisins, pepper, black raspberry, spice and kirsch lead to a full bodied, packed youthful Chateauneuf du Pape. This is a very ripe, concentrated, powerful style of Clos des Papes that some tasters like more than others.

      95 points - Tasted
    7. Smokey black cherry, garrigue, lavender, all spice, kirsch liqueur, fresh cut herbs and intense black raspberry scents create the compelling perfume. Dense, corpulent, concentrated and packed with layers of sweet, ripe, juicy fruit, this wine grabs your attention without an apology.The wine fills your mouth and coats your palate with layers of fruit and flavor. This seems young and should only get better over the next decade or two... This is not a wine of finesse. But it is a delicious wine of Chateauneuf du Pape.

      96 points - Tasted
    8. When this wine was first delivered to the states, it stirred an intense controversy over the Internet. Awarded a high score by Robert Parker, some tasters called the wine a mess. I've enjoyed stunning bottles of this wine at times. On other occasions, the wine seemed like it suffered heat damage at some point. One specific friend has opened it numerous times and everyone of his bottles have been flawed. All my bottles have been sublime. At dinner last night, a guest brought a bottle and clearly, the wine endured damage along the way. The wine was light in color, flavor and density. There was an enjoyable level of kirsch, garrigue and herbs, but that is not what the wine delivers at its best. It was not a bad tasting experience, but this bottle was at best average.

      89 points - Tasted
    9. This sports one of the darkest colors I’ve seen in a young Chateauneuf. Intensely concentrated with massive layers of ripe, dark and peppery, ripe red fruit. Full bodied, alcoholic and richly concentrated, I'm not sure why this wine invites all the controversy.

      95 points - Tasted
45 CDP1 Wine Tasting Notes, Ratings

Clos des Papes Vineyards, Wines, Winemaking

The vineyard of Clos des Papes consists of 35 hectares of vines that are spread over 24 separate parcels in the Chateauneuf du Pape appellation for the production of their wine. 4 hectares in their cooler terroir are reserved for grapes used in the production of Clos des Pape Blanc, their white Chateauneuf du Pape wine. 31 hectares are used to plant grapes for their red Chateauneuf du Pape. Part of what makes the wine of Clos des Papes special is the range of different terroirs and soils their vineyards are located in.

The vineyards of Clos des Papes have a wide array of terroirs ranging from the rocky soils of La Crau to areas of sand, limestone and gravel soil. Perhaps some of the complexities found in Clos des Papes are in the wine due to different soils their vines are planted in. They also have some of their best Grenache vines planted in sandy soils in the west and and southeastern part of the appellation. In the northeastern part of the appellation, you find they have more of their vines planted in the on soils littered with rocks, stones, clay and limestone.

Most of these vines are devoted to red wines. Only 10% are reserved for production of the white wine. The white wine of Clos des Papes made its debut in 1955. At Clos des Papes, they practice biodynamic farming. In 2010, the property earned the right to be certified "Agriculture Biologique."

Clos des Papes remains one of the top wines in the region. Prices have risen, but so has the quality. The wine has the ability to age and evolve for 2 decades or more. 2007 remains the finest wine they have produced to date. However, a recently tasted bottle of 1945 Clos des Papes showed just how well this wine ages! That bottle was the greatest fully mature Southern Rhone wine I have yet tasted.

The best vintages of Clos des Papes are: 2016, 2015, 2012, 2010, 2009, 2007, 2006, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2001, 2000, 1998, 1995, 1990, 1989, 1979, 1978, 1961, 1959 and 1945.

If an award for the most consistent producer in Chateauneuf du Pape were given out for wines made over the past 60 years, or even longer, surely, Clos des Papes would be a contender to win the prize! This is easily borne out when looking at the list of top vintages from the property since the 1940's.

Clos des Papes produces 2 wines, a red Chateauneuf du Pape and a Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc.

Clos des Papes Rouge is produced from about 65% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre, 10% Syrah and 5% from other varietals that range from Muscardin, Vaccarese to Counoise. It is the goal of Clos des Papes to always include a large portion of Mourvedre in the blend whenever possible, for its spicy qualities and structural backbone. On average, the vines are at least 50 years or older. Yields are kept low. For an example, the young vines are on average 28 hectoliters per hectare while the older vines often have yields of less than 21 hectoliters per hectare. They have some ov their best vines planted close to the village, and in the La Crau and Courthezon lieux-dits.

The grapes are 100% destemmed at Clos des Papes. The first vintage they began destemming their grapes 100% was 1991. Clos des Papes co ferments all their different grape varietals. Vinification takes place in temperature controlled, stainless steel tanks. The wines are fined and not filtered. The wine is aged in old foudres for about 15 months before bottling. The production of Clos des Papes is close to 7,100 cases per year.

Clos des Papes Blanc which made its debut in 1955 is produced from a blend of 20% Roussanne, 20% Grenache Blanc, 20% Clairette, 20% Bourboulenc and 20% Picpoul. The wine is vinified and aged in stainless steel tanks for 6 months. The average annual production is close to 1,000 cases per vintage.

Serving and Decanting Clos des Papes with Wine, Food Pairing Tips

Clos des Paapes is best served at 15.5 degrees Celsius, 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The cool, almost cellar temperature gives the wine more freshness and lift. Young vintages can be popped and poured, or decanted for an hour so. This allows the wine to soften and open its perfume. Older vintages might need very little decanting, just enough to remove the sediment. Clos des Papes is best served with all types of classic meat dishes, veal, pork, beef, lamb, duck, game, roast chicken, roasted, braised, stewed dishes, sausage and cassoulet. Clos des Papes is also good with Asian dishes, hearty fish courses like tuna, mushrooms pasta, eggplant and tomatoes.

The white wine of Clos des Papes is best served with a myriad of different seafood dishes, shellfish, crab, lobster, sushi, sashimi, chicken, pork and veal, as well as Asian cuisine.

Clos des Papes also produces the value priced, Southern Rhone wine, Petit Vin d'Avril.