"The 2007 Chateauneuf du Pape Collection Charles Giraud is off-the-charts! More voluptuous and hedonistic than the 2010, it offers a smorgasbord of black raspberry, blackberry, licorice, roasted herbs and cured meats that flow to a massive, full-bodied wine that has nothing out of place. Incredibly concentrated, layered, pure and seamless, it is an incredible Chateauneuf to drink over the coming 15 years.
Located in the southern part of the appellation, this impeccably run estate is owned/managed by Isabel Ferrando, who learned winemaking in Gigondas when she worked at Raspail-Ay. Her first vintage in Chateauneuf du Pape was in 2003, and since then, the wines have gone pretty much from strength to strength. Under her Domaine de Saint-Prefert label, she releases five cuvees; two whites and three reds. While this retrospective is focused all on the reds, her two whites are consistently some of my favorites from the region and are well worth seeking out. With regard to the reds cuvees, she makes a classic Chateauneuf du Pape (not reviewed here) that’s a rough blend of 90% Grenache (from 70+-year-old vines) and the balance Syrah and Mourvedre that’s aged in demi-muids and smaller barrels. Her Reserve Auguste Favier, from 60- to 100+-year-old vines, is based largely on Grenache, but incorporates around 15% Cinsault, which gives it a more spicy, elegant profile when compared to the other cuvees. It’s aged in older barrels. Lastly, her top cuvee is certainly the Collection Charles Giraud, and it’s always a rough blend of 60% Grenache (tank) and 40% Mourvedre (demi-muid). It’s consistently one of the most impressive wines in any given vintage. In addition to these three cuvees, she also produces a Grenache-driven cuvee under her Domaine Ferrando label that comes from the La Crau lieu-dit, and is aged in smaller barrels and oak tanks. It’s also worth noting that since 2009, she’s stopped destemming, and the wines show a more spicy, complex profile, but also show slightly less over-the-top richness. In addition, since that time, the wines seem to put on weight (and color) once in bottle, and have consistently performed above their barrel reviews. Starting with the 2011s, these have all put on weight and richness since I tasted them on release. As such, they came in a couple points higher for each cuvee. Moving to the 2010s, this is an incredible vintage for Ferrando and these wines continue to gain depth and richness in bottle. For the most part, these rival the 2007s, yet are more classic and focused in style. Moving to the 2009s, this was the first vintage where Ferrando opted to not de-stem any of the wines. While I had just tasted through Ferrando’s 2004s last year as part of the 10 retrospectives that I’m now doing, I was thrilled to be able to taste back through them again. For the most part, the wines showed consistently with the prior reviews, if not slightly better on this occasion. We finished the tasting with the 2003s, which was Ferrando’s first vintage. These beauties are still going strong today." (WA)