2012 Château La Nerthe, Châteauneuf du Pape “Cuvée des Cadettes” Rhône Valley, France.
The beautiful dark fruited 2012 Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvée des Cadettes, which was made from about 39% Syrah, 37% Grenache and 22% Mourvèdre, plus 2% other varietals, is really turning on the charm in the bottle at this stage and I imagine much better than most would have expected from the vintage with a cooler toned personality and fine detailing, it is really lovely and textural in the glass. Layers of blackberry, plum, currant and cherry fruits flow on the medium bodied palate with hints of graphite, incense, peppery spices, loamy earth, cedary wood notes and minty anise. Everything folds together nicely, supple tannin, and the oak has slipped perfectly into the background, allowing the wine’s purity to shine now, adding blueberry compote, chalky stones, mineral and subtle framboise as the La Nerthe Cuvée des Cadettes opens up, making it a very rewarding wine to enjoy now, if you’ve have this in your collection. I really appreciate the less hot feel, freshness and this one goes well with array of cuisine, especially Fall and Winter meat dishes. This old vine bottling has its fans and it was really a treat to try this dark garnet wine with its heady fruit density, but good balance, and maturity of form. The winery suggests pairing the Cadettes with beef, lamb and venison, as well as casseroles or a rich stew, or as I might recommend, a selection hard cheeses. It was great to see just how good these La Nerthe offerings are again, as I haven’t had many in recent years, with this 2012 being an impressive effort, I am grateful a friend brought this well cellared bottle to a recent blind Rhône tasting.

One of the classic of the region, Château La Nerthe, a property that dates back to the middle 1500s, is the only true château in Châteauneuf du Pape and has long been a blue chip winery to collect, with their Cuvée des Cadettes being their top bottling. The historic Château was built in 1736 and Château La Nerthe was one of the first estates in the Southern Rhône to bottle their own wines, the terroir has all of the favored elements within the vineyards, including sections with the iconic galet stones. There’s always been a more modern and hedonistic approach to the winemaking here at La Nerthe, being early converts to 100% de-stemming and in the use of new oak in their Châteauneufs, in fact at one time La Nerthe was the most expensive and sought out wines in the Southern Rhône. La Nerthe has been certified organic since 1998 and the vines are set on sloping hillsides with sandy-clay and stony soils with a large mix of varietals that allows the estate to make complex and elegant wines. This Cuvée des Cadettes, the winery notes, is not a selection made in the cellar, but a wine crafted from a unique, 20 acre vineyard planted with 85 to 100 year old vines, with a bit more Syrah and Mourvèdre than is typical, but with a selection all of the allowed grapes, which along with the Grenache makes the Cadettes richly flavored and complex. The winemaking here saw a tank maceration and fermentation lasting close to three weeks and then wines are racked into concrete tanks to finish malolactic fermentation. Then wine is pressed and aged for 12 months in 100% small French oak barrels, which gives this wine is extra degree of luxuriousness. La Nerthe hired a new winemaker, Rémi Jean, in 2019,and I’ll be interested to see how the latest releases are looking.
($119 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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