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It's no secret that we love the Southern Rhône wines of Laurent Charvin. "It is one of the unsung top addresses, the quality super consistent, the authenticity of the wines beyond reproach." (DrinkRhone) We've always found the Châteauneuf-du-Pape from Charvin to be one of the most unforced and expressive wines of the AOC, a product of organic farming, whole-cluster fermentations with wild yeasts and aging in concrete. There is only one cuvée of CDP Rouge from his 9 hectares, with a mix of sand, clay-limestone and galet stone soils. Depending on the crop variation each vintage, the blend is roughly 85% Grenache, 5% Mourvedre, 5% Vaccarèse and 5% Syrah, averaging about 50 years old. Which brings us to 2020...
2020: "A SILKEN, JOLI VINTAGE, ELEGANT WITHOUT BEING LIGHT" says John Livingstone-Learmonth at drinkrhone.
"In French, the adjectives “silken” and “joli” occurred frequently from the growers, who gave me some good descriptions of the vintage as they saw it. LAURENT CHARVIN, in the north-west at Orange is always well on top of matters, making just the one cuvée, with a grand amount of Grenache. He told me: “2020 is very joli, started badly with two days of frost at the end of March, especially on our Côtes du Rhône vineyards, some on the Châteauneuf. That came early enough not to hit the yield, the quality. Then there was super weather, with a correct amount of June rain, running into dry conditions, no storms. There was very little September rain, and we came up with our largest harvest since 2011. The vintage is more airborne than 2019 which is very rich-solar, while 2020 is elegant – not elegant-light, note. 2019 is powerful for the red, but 2020 bears jolis fruits, has true class, an identity.”
Here is drinkrhone's review of the 2020 Charvin CDP Rouge: "dark red; an elegant curve runs across the nose, mulberry, raspberry jelly, laurel, thyme, dried herbs, the fruit very pure. The palate is sensuous, flows well, is articulate, bears Burgundian refinement, velvet tannins, is very stately. There’s a serene, gossamer, real stylish increase in depth, essence, running into a really good finish where the juice circulates freely, is bursting with life, energy, blood-iron, herbal notes, local ID on the aftertaste. This is pure, feathery, with good inner content, good balance, gives great access to its terroir, is STGT wine (Soil To Glass Transfer) 'It does things softly; I am happy because the impression that it accentuates is the living side of the wine in the last few years,' Laurent Charvin."
(A word about reviews: drinkrhone thankfully does not use the 100 point scale, but instead uses a system of stars, two to six. This seems more respectful of the winemaker - an opinion rather than a number. Six star wines are rare - only Chateau Rayas received 6 stars in 2020. Charvin, Clos des Papes, Cristia Vieilles Vignes, Vieux Telegraph La Crau and 3 others received 5 stars in this elegant vintage)
Speaking of great Châteauneuf-du-Pape, we are happy to report that the importer's warehouse has found 30 missing bottles of our 2016 Pierre André CDP Rouge order which we can now offer. The wines of Jacqueline André transcend point scores or stars in their soulful complexity and elegance. Put some of these in your cellar!
We keep selling out of our favorite not-quite Châteauneuf-du-Papes, but more inventory arrives on Monday so stock-up on these brilliant Côtes-du-Rhônes - the 2020 "Le Poutet" from Laurent Charvin and Domaine Ferrand's deep and complex "Cuvée Antiques Vieilles Vignes."
10% Case/mixed case discount applies to all wines, arrival Monday 11/7
Judging from the 2020 CDPs that we've tasted, the vintage appears to be one of lovely, pure fruit, elegance and balance, not as "big" as the 2019s but having the ability to drink smoothly as young wines and to age for 20 to 30 years as well. Here is drinkrhone on the Charvin 2020: "dark red; an elegant curve runs across the nose, mulberry, raspberry jelly, laurel, thyme, dried herbs, the fruit very pure. The palate is sensuous, flows well, is articulate, bears Burgundian refinement, velvet tannins, is very stately. There’s a serene, gossamer, real stylish increase in depth, essence, running into a really good finish where the juice circulates freely, is bursting with life, energy, blood-iron, herbal notes, local ID on the aftertaste. This is pure, feathery, with good inner content, good balance, gives great access to its terroir, is STGT wine (Soil To Glass Transfer) 'It does things softly; I am happy because the impression that it accentuates is the living side of the wine in the last few years,' Laurent Charvin. Drink from 2025 - 2048/2050."
(Arrives 12/2) We consider Domaine Pierre André to be one of the greatest estates in Châteuneuf-du-Pape. Organic since 1980 (one of the first in the AOC) and Biodynamic since 1992. The red is 90% Grenache with Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Vaccarèse, Counoise, Muscadin and Picpoul. Some parcels are over 100 years old, with the average vine age around 65 years. The 2016 is a beautiful glass of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, showing fresh, complex aromas of ripe blackberry with cherry, spice, rose, earth, tar, smoke and floral notes. On the palate, the wine is perfectly structured, similar to the 2010, with deep blackberry and black cherry liqueur with spice, garrigue, earth and saline minerals. A great CDP for aging, this is delicious now in its vibrant youth, but will repay waiting for ten years and then enjoy until 2050! Very highly recommended. David Lillie
The Laurent Charvin "Le Poutet" is made from average 50 year-old vines (some are 90 years-old!) of 80% Grenache with Mourvedre, Syrah and Carignan in vineyards that abut Chateauneuf-du-Pape - Maucoil in the northwest and Campovin and Boislauzon in the northeast. The soils are sandy clay/limestone with galets stones. The grapes undergo a 15 to 20-day whole bunch fermentation with daily pumping-overs, the wine then spends 18 months in concrete vat and is bottled unfined and unfiltered. The resulting wine is equal to many Châteauneuf-du-Pape, offering complex aromas of garrigue and spicy red fruits with the structure to evolve and drink well over ten to fifteen years. The lovely 2020 shows "a red robe; the nose carries a light essence of cooked plum fruit, strawberry jam, pepper, peony. It’s wide, will emerge and evolve well. The palate is close-knit, herbal-peppery, lined with red cherry, brisk fruits, cut in the tannins that still stand a little on the outside. Its frame is a bit skeletal, can amplify. There is rocky powder emphasis on the close, the length good. I like its gradual upping of the tempo, depth. It has interest, hidden corners, is not an open book. “It’s very fresh, always had foundation. 2019 is powerful, but 2020 bears jolis fruits, has true class, an identity,” Laurent Charvin." drinkrhone.com
2019 is a great vintage for the beautiful Ferrand Cuvée Antique - 90% Grenache from 85 year-old vines just outside Chateauneuf-du-Pape, with 5% Syrah, 2% Cinsault, 2% Mourvèdre, 1% Grenache blanc, Clairette blanche. From DrinkRhone: "dark red; the bouquet has a deep setting of plum fruit with a crushed nutshell air above, is locked up, plenty of potential on board to expand and diversify. The attack is well sturdy, agreeably thorough, covers the ground well, sustaining into a lingering close, the juice lasting well. The Grenache plum fruit has verve and a fluid intensity, does a really good job, while the tannins are fresh, too." This drinks like good CDP but at half the price, enjoy over the next ten to fifteen years.