2009 Clos des Papes Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Year: 2009
Appellation: Rhone
Country: France
Wine Spectator: 96
Wine Advocate: 95
Vinous Media: 93-95
Red Wine
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"Sinewy and reserved, with a light dusting of cocoa powder over the tangy damson plum, red licorice and cassis notes. The long, supple finish, with a lovely wafting note of Lapsang souchong tea, is packed with minerality and tight-grained tannins that will need time to fully evolve. One of the more backward 2009s, though this should pick up steam in the cellar. Best from 2013 through 2025. From France." (WS)

"The 2009 is showing better out of bottle than it was last year. Gorgeous kirsch liqueur notes, raspberry jam, forest floor, spice box, new saddle leather and a peppery spiciness are all present in this deep, voluptuously textured, open-knit Clos des Papes, which is atypically forward, luscious and approachable already. These wines often need a good 5-10 years of cellaring in the more structured vintages, but the 2009 is gorgeous from the get-go. This full-bodied, deep, concentrated wine has a deep purple color and should drink well for 20-25 years without ever really closing down. Readers may want to think of this as a slightly more concentrated version of the 2003, which is one of the great stars of that vintage.

This is one of the great estates in Chateauneuf du Pape, with a history that dates back to the mid-1700s. I believe the Avril family first estate-bottled wine in 1896. Clos des Papes, with its 90+ acres of vines spread among 24 separate parcels in the appellation, is one of the traditional hallmarks of classic, long-lived Chateauneuf du Pape. Everything is aged in old wood foudres, no old vine or luxury cuvee is produced, and the red wine is a classic blend of 65% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre, 20% Syrah, and the rest Vaccarese, Counoise, and Muscardin. It is generally not fined or filtered after aging 15 months in these old wood foudres. The white wine is an equal-part blend of Grenache blanc, Clairette, Roussanne, Picpoul, Bourboulenc, and one could argue that it might possibly be the longest-lived dry white of the appellation. Tasting here is always a treat, but it takes a while to work through all the different lots and then look at the potential assembled version of the 2010. I was consistently rating each foudre between a low of 92 or 93 to a high of mid- to upper-90s. That is as impressive as 2010 is. Avril told me that the average alcohol in 2010 was high on all the different lots, which is in keeping with recent vintages. (The 2003 was 15.6%, and the 2007 was 15.7%, while the final assembled version of the 2010 is 15.9% and the 2009 is 15.6%.) The 2010, paradoxically, has relatively high acidity compared to other top vintages. Since I had a few extra moments, Vincent opened a 1998 Chateauneuf du Pape blanc, which I rated 93. I thought it was still very fresh and lively. Of course, he ended our tasting with one of the all-time classics of Chateauneuf du Pape and of Clos des Papes, the 1990, which is close to perfection." (WA)

"Deep ruby. Intensely perfumed cherry, garrigue and flowers on the nose, plus notes of licorice and smoky Moroccan spices. At once fleshy and sappy, with incisive, spicy red fruit flavors complicated by herbs and floral pastilles. Finishes spicy and with superb intensity, echoing the spice and floral notes emphatically. This sample was a blend from five of Avril's giant, mostly old foudres Avril averred that "14.5% alcohol is the jumping off point for high-quality grenache, any less and the flavors aren't complete. This should be just above that so it will be fresh and balanced." (IWC)

Winery Notes:
As with many houses in the region, the cépage for the red wine at Clos des Papes is based on a majority of Grenache (65%), with smaller quantities of Mouvèdre (20%) and Syrah (10%). The remainder of the blend consists of small amounts of some of the lesser-known varietals approved in the appellation, namely Muscardin, Counoise and Vacarèse. The wines spend their infancy in tank and are then transferred to large foudres for an élevage which lasts approximately 14-15 months.