2016 Chateau Cabrieres, Chateauneuf du Pape “Les Silex de Cabrieres” Rhone Valley, France.
The pure and fruit forward Les Silex de Cabrieres Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge is an all tank raised version from Chateau Cabrieres that is made up of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah from mainly younger vines set on a calcareous plateau that has a scattering of the classic galets, the large round river stones that give some of these Chateauneuf sites their signature look, with a base of clay, sand and limestone soils. This bottling is showing very nicely with primary red fruits and subtle earthy elements, spice and dried dark florals, it isn’t a Chateauneuf to bury in the cellar it is for immediate pleasure and this highly regarded vintage makes it even more compelling with briar laced boysenberry, tangy currant, dark strawberry and juicy plum fruits of the fresh Grenache leading the way, pushed up by the light gamey and truffle notes from the Syrah, giving this easy Rhone some added complexity, it finishes with good fruit concentration and roundness, especially joyous considering it was aged without any wood. This Les Silex de Cabrieres Chateauneuf du Pape is pretty attractive and makes for a quality fresh example, in particular it has the stuffing and opulence to go great with meals and or will a range of hard cheeses. With air and time in the glass a deeper sense comes through along with hints of tar, licorice and savory tones adding a bit of extra dimension here, which maybe highlights the focus on the growing of the grapes from this single vineyard location of the northern area of Châteauneuf-du-Pape zone, which has a slightly cooler climate that adds to the vibrance of this wine.
The Chateau Cabrieres, run by the Arnaud family, with the famous winemaker and consultant Philippe Cambie over seeing the production here, employed an inox, all stainless fermentation here with micro-oxygenation to bring out soft fruitiness in this more clean and sleek Les Silex de Cabrieres Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge bottlings, helping it develop its soft texture and supple medium bodied palate. The upper end cuvees here at Chateau Cabrieres see classic cement cuves and some small barriques and come from much older vineyard selections that include more Mourvedre as well as small does of more legal varietals in the final blends, unlike like this modern style Les Silex, which is more for youthful consumption and much less brooding in nature. The grapes used in the Silex were all de-stemmed and saw a 20 day maceration and fermentation before being raised, as mentioned, in tank for close to six months, where it gets the blasts of oxygen, before being bottled with a light filtration, again to promote an ease of use style. I had not had these wine before and I enjoyed the dark garnet colored 2016 very much and can imagine having a few more bottles over the next 3 to 5 years, for a prestigious region wine, it is very non pretentious, very much more like a quality Cotes du Rhone with its personality and more a bistro country offering, rather than a collectable bottle with its bright flavors and ripe/sweet tannins. The property has been in the Arnaud family for many generations and has a historic castle in the middle of the estate with the winemaking here dating back to 1344 at least, though there is some evidence of early Roman efforts happening here too. Many thanks to friends Maddie and Martin, who visited Avignon and brought back bottles to share.
($35-50 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive