Friday, August 27, 2010


This post is going to be on wines and ratings. I've actually learnt something while drinking! The Rhône valley vineyards lie almost due south of Burgundy. It's divided neatly into north/south regions at the town of Valence. Rhone valley wines are different from the Bordeaux and Burgundy due to the blend of the 2 to 13 different grape varietals.

There are two great grapes of the Northern Rhône:

Syrah - the noble red wine grape (often called Shiraz outside France)
Viognier- for white wines
Interestingly, a small proportion of some reds Marsanne and Roussanne are also grown for white wines.

In the Southern Rhône a large variety of grapes is permitted.

Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsaut for reds
Grenache Blanc, Picpoul, Roussanne and Marsanne for whites.

This time, I want to talk about the great wines of Southern Rhône which is mostly known for its red wines which includes the famous Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Châteauneuf-du-Pape means "The Pope's new castle" and, indeed the history of this appellation is firmly entwined with papal history. Châteauneuf-du-Pape is traditionally cited as allowing 13 grape varieties, but the 2009 version of the AOC rules in fact list 18 varieties, since blanc (white), rose (pink) and noir (black) versions of some grapes are now explicitly listed as separate varieties. In theory this means the wine-maker has various options at his or her disposal each vintage depending on how individual grape varieties have performed. In practice, most Châteauneuf-du-Pape is made up of the 3 highest quality grapes: Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah.

The wines are normally packaged in distinctive, heavy and dark bottles and embossed with papal regalia and insignia (official items of attire and decoration proper to the Pope).

I got very excited when it comes to trying new wines. The last time I had a CdP and I really love it was at Oenotheque in Singapore and this time, we had 5 bottles lined up for tasting. My friend wanted to see what ratings I (EL) would give to the wines as compared to RP (Robert Parker), ST (Stephen Tanzer) and WS (Wine Spectator).

Plateau de La Crau is by far Chateauneuf-du-Pape's most famous lieu-dit (named vineyard). The vineyard is owned primarily by Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe, one of the most classic Chateauneuf's, but also producer Henri Bonneau maintains a firm position there. And it was a pleasure that we start with a Blanc from this domaine.

Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe CdP Blanc 2008

As described by WS, this is a ripe, honeyed style with grilled hazelnut and heath notes up front, followed by bitter orange, nectarine and lemon zest. This has nice length and drive.

The colour is of pale gold and the bitter orange and zesty palate makes this a very nice and refreshing white as an aperitif.

EL: 90 RP: 91 ST: 90 WS: 92

Domaine La Roquete CdP 2007

As described by RP, this is the finest tradition cuvee yet made. It possesses a deep ruby/purple-tinged colour as well as a bouquet if blackcurrants, black cherries, garrigue, pepper, and lavender. It's full-bodied, ripe and exceptionally elegant, pure wine to drink now or cellar for 12-15 years.

I don't quite agree because I think this is probably too elegant that it lacks body or maybe I just prefer more robust wines.
EL: 89 RP: 93 ST: 91 WS: 92

Domaine Les Pallieres Gigondas Terrasses du Diable 2007

The sensational 2007 bottle reveals gloriously sweet black cherry and black raspberry fruit intermixed with notions of licorice, loamy soil and roasted herbs. With terrific fruit density, a full-bodied richness and striking elegance and precision, it should drink well for 15 or more years, as commented by RP.

I did taste the licorice and herbs for this wine and I must say that this is better than the previous one!

EL: 93 RP: 93 ST: 91 WS: 92

Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe CdP Rouge 2006

As described by WS, this is a very grippy style, with lots of sweet tapenade, tobacco, hot stone and braised chestnut notes weaving through a core of dark currant and fig fruit. There's a nice twinge of lavender on the structured finish.

I felt that the finish was long and good and definitely there were some hints of tobacco and chestnuts.
EL: 92 RP: 92+ ST: 92 WS: 93

Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe CdP Rouge 2007

As WS puts it - packed, in a brawny, muscular style atypical for this lush vintage, with a gravelly undertow to the currant paste, braised fig and dark licorice notes. Picks up even more steam on the finish, with grilled mesquite, mineral and garrigue notes and a long, hot stone-filled finish.

This wine was superb and I knew that the 2007 was supposed to be a great vintage.
EL: 95 RP: 95 ST: 93

According to RP, 2004 is a good year, 2005 an excellent one; 2006 is at least very good and as for the southern Rhones, 2007 is the greatest vintage in the last 30 years! These wines are meant to be drunk in their exuberant youthfulness.

It was quite a fun dinner where I had to rate the wines before the points given by the various wine connoiseurs were revealed to me. While I was on the spot with almost all the bottles, it was a miss with the Domaine La Roquete because I didn't really like it.


Sean said...

this is educational! the 95-point one sounds very intriguing ... i'm pretty sure i've never tried such a high-rated wine before :D

eiling lim said...

Sean: Thanks. I found myself to be learning too as I write this post. I've even tried a 99-100 pointer! It's really glass licking good!

uLi.佑莉 said...

Wah! Really need to be very expert and very knowledgeable in this area la if to write a post like this! Geng!!

suituapui said...

Wines? Zzzzzzzz..... I'm waiting for your post on the lacy undies you bought. Must model them yourself, ok? Muahahahahaha!!!!

boo_licious said...

Very interesting and I'm sure the tasting must be great since they have such high points. Lucky gal.

eiling lim said...

uLi: Not really an expert but I learn as I go..

STP: No way!! You wanna model them?

Boo: yeah it was very good and definitely will cost me an arm and a leg if I were to buy them myself.

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