2016 Vieux Donjon Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Year: 2016
Appellation: Rhone
Country: France
Wine Spectator: 95
Wine Advocate: 94
Vinous Media: 95
Jeb Dunnuck: 98
Red Wine
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"This offers a blitz of bay leaf and juniper notes out front, followed by a racy and tightly coiled core of red and black currant, damson plum and cherry fruit flavors. Lots of brisk iron and garrigue accents rifle through the finish. Clear, precise and streamlined, this should age wonderfully. Best from 2020 through 2040. 7,000 cases made. -JM " (WS)

"The full-bodied 2016 Chateauneuf du Pape is a solid effort. Blueberry, cherry and garrigue notes mark the nose, while the palate is firm but silky, with a fine balance between ripeness and grip. I've seen some internet criticism of this estate for moving to a riper, more modern style, but I don't understand that—unless good cellar hygiene is now considered a problem in certain circles. This is a relatively traditional, balanced example of Châteauneuf, with spicy, savory elements combined with generous fruit. A blend of 75% Grenache, 10% each Mourvèdre and Syrah and 5% Cinsault that weighs in at 14.8% alcohol, this foudre-aged wine should drink well for a couple of decades.

It was a delight to visit Claire Michel and her brother, François Michel, at this family domaine in the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Both of their parents owned vineyards, so it's a decent-sized estate, with 16 hectares of vines (including a single hectare of white varieties). The first estate bottling took place in 1967, so the 2016 represents the 50th vintage. When François said the vintage is "a mix of 2009 and 2010," Claire chimed in to say, "Round like 2009," and François finished with "Structured like 2010." The white is a blend of Clairette and Roussanne that sees only stainless steel and never undergoes malolactic fermentation. The red is partially destemmed, fermented in concrete and aged in foudres. No 2008 was available for tasting, but I was offered the 2015 and 2010. I may have slightly underestimated the 2015 when I tasted it blind last year, but it was substantially similar to my previous note. The 2010, said Claire, "had a long period when it was closed. It's starting to open." As previous Wine Advocate reviews of this wine have noted, it may be the best wine ever made at this estate." (WA)

"Vivid ruby-red. An exotically perfumed, expressive nose evokes ripe cherry and black raspberry, and cola, licorice and floral pastille notes add complexity. Shows impressive depth as well as energy on the palate, offering sweet dark fruit, lavender and spicecake flavors supported by a spine of juicy acidity. In a suave, graceful style for the vintage, showing outstanding clarity and a sexy floral nuance on the strikingly long finish, which features harmonious tannins and a sneaky mineral quality" (VM)

"The 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape is unquestionably the greatest wine made from this estate to date and surpasses the 1998, 2007, and 2010. Checking in as a normal blend of 75% Grenache, 10% each of Syrah and Mourvèdre, and the balance Cinsault, it offers a heavenly bouquet of blackcurrants, ground pepper, new saddle leather, garrigue, and an assortment of exotic spices. Deep, full-bodied, incredibly concentrated, yet with the purity, elegance, and finesse that makes this vintage so special, it can be drunk any time over the coming two decades or more. Bravo!" (JD)