2009 Cuvee du Vatican Cotes-du-Rhone Villages

Year: 2009
Appellation: Rhone
Country: France
Wine Spectator: 89
Red Wine
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"Dark, ripe and focused, with mulled black currant and plum sauce notes laced with baker's chocolate and graphite hints. Displays a nicely fleshy finish. Drink now. 2,500 cases made." (WS)

Winery Notes:
The Cotes du Rhone Villages Cuvee du Vatican has always been considered as the "younger brother" of the famous Chateauneuf du Pape. It is well worth questioning this assuption, however. This is a wine that has long since proved its credentials and which continues to astound us by its vitality. A true vintage wine, it reveals its attractions for the greatest pleasure of one and all. This endearing wine will always be present at table wherever good living and good humor are the rule.

The Diffonty family goes as far back as 1673. At that time, they were already involved in agri culture and cultivated vines as well as olive and cherry trees. Gradually, the vines became the dominant culture. There is typical rich French history with this estate. In 1900 the Diffonty family owned a mere 2 hectares of vineyards and over the years grew their holdings steadily. In 1958 the Cuvee du Vatican trademark was created and blessed by the Pope.

Father of current owner Jean Marc Diffonty, Felicien, was mayor of Châteauneuf du Pape for thirty years from 1965-1995. A year later (1996) Jean Marc was made president of the Young Winemakers of Châteauneuf du Pape. Some years later a new ageing room for their barrels was built and just this year (2008) Jean Marc bought his brother out of the estate and now runs it with wife Karine.

The property currently owns 23 hectares of AOC Châteauneuf du Pape. White wine is made from 1 hectare. The blend for the classic red cuvée comes from 70% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 10% Mourvedré and 5% Cinsault. The grapes are not de-stemmed. The fermented wine is matured for 18-30 months in old foudres. Cuvée Reserve Sixtine comes from old vines: 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 20% Mourvedré. The yield is limited to 25 hl./ha. The wine is first matured in steel tanks and then for about one year in new barriques (60%) and old foudres.

A further 10 hectares of Côtes du Rhône Villages and 4 hectares of Côtes du Rhône are owned by the estate.

Cuvee du Vatican is a fantastic example of what Châteauneuf du Pape should taste like. This estate's profile has risen over the years and a sure sign of this was grabbing 19th spot on Wine Spectator's top 100 wines back in 2005.