2016 Saint Cosme, Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge, Rhone Valley, France.
The historic Chateau de Saint Cosme, one of the best Gigondas estates, also make an exceptional collection of Northern Rhone and Southern Rhone wines, including this ultra stylish Chateauneuf du Pape, which is an outstanding value from a fantastic vintage. Crafted by Louis Barruol, who’s ancestors (family) bought the noted ancient Gallo-Roman villa site in 1570, which most probably already had its own vineyard, as they found winemaking cellars there, and the estate’s existence as a wine growing property is documented as well in famous letters written by Jean de Chalon, Prince of Orange back in 1416, the modern wines are some of the best in the region. The 2016 version of Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge, a blend of about 50% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre, 10% Syrah, 7% Cinsault and 3% Clairette (Blanche) the white grape, and it comes from top sites in La Crau, Valori and Christia, and saw a 100% whole cluster fermentation, with aging being done in used oak casks, mostly puncheon with a few small barrels. Barruol, notes that 2015 and 2016 vintages being warm and ripe needed the whole cluster to achieve depth and complexity, adding that “The stem is part of the fruit and helps terroir expression, just like the pips – taking them out, in my opinion, is nonsense and a great loss.” All which I whole agree with, this wine, as well as almost all of his reds are wonderfully expressive and ripe, but stay fresh and sublimely balanced, and while I loved the 2014 in a cooler year and loved the 2015 with its silken texture, this 2016 is even better still with its unbelievable length and vivid fruit core, certainly it is one of the best values in Chateauneuf you will find. There is not many wineries that can match Saint Cosme for quality and price in the Rhone and this wine delivers a performance well above its cost, in fact I’ve tried wine triple the price that were not as seductive as this one.
This 2016 is extremely weighty and rich, feeling hedonistic and opulent on the full bodied palate, it is strikingly different from Saint Cosme’s Gigondas, which feels cooler, darker and more vibrantly spicy, while this Chateauneuf is really all about the fruit and texture with layers of black raspberry, candied plum, cherry and a hint of pomegranate with fig paste, herbs de Provence, dried floral incense, a touch of savoriness along with creme de cassis, sweet Thai basil, salted black licorice and cedar notes. This deep purple/crimson wine has a powerful and youthful presence, but opens easily and flows luxuriously, its tannin structure velvety, making it even a joyous wine even now, though robust cuisine really helps unlock its full personality and seductive charms, best to have with serious proteins! Barruol goes on to say that, Châteauneuf and Gigondas, while generally similar Grenache based blends, are like the yin and the yang, alpha and omega – they are different in virtually every way, and I love the contrast of the two, and while I usually prefer, as does Mr Barruol, the estate grown Gigondas, but that choice in a vintage such as this a lot harder and this wine absolutely rocks. Savvy collectors will be rewarded for putting Saint Cosme’s Chateauneuf(s) away for 5 to 10 years, I honestly doubt I could keep my hands of them that long, especially this 2016, which is drinking very sexy indeed, and with air the dense fruit subsides slightly to allow earth and spice to shine through giving an added dimension to this already excellent wine. Saint Cosme, across the range, has had three amazing vintages in a row with 2015, this 2016 and the upcoming 2017 all proving to be fabulous, so be sure to check them all out, from their 100% Syrah Cotes du Rhone to their single cru and or appellation serious wines, like this Chateauneuf, their Gigondas of course and their set of northern Rhone reds.
($39 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive