Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2001

  • Wednesday 1 October 2003

The last in a run of four good vintages in the Rhône, 2001 in Châteauneuf-du-Pape produced some great wines with balance and length. JAMES LAWTHER MW picks his best of the year

The last in a run of four good vintages in the Rhône, 2001 in Châteauneuf-du-Pape produced some great wines with balance and length. JAMES LAWTHER MW picks his best of the year

Chateauneuf-du-Pape has been on a roll since 1998, and 2001 ends a set of four very good to excellent vintages. The wines have a rich fruit concentration, plenty of glycerol and fat, and high alcohol degrees. The best show a quantity of firm, ripe tannin and a fresh minerality, providing good length and balance. The round, supple texture of many will make them attractive early on, but this is a vintage with long ageing potential.

The key features of the year were low yields, a hot, dry summer and ideal harvest conditions. 'There was some coulure in the Grenache and consequently a smaller fruit set and naturally lower yields,' explains Jean-Paul Versino of the excellent Domaine Bois de Boursan.

Climatic conditions throughout the year were favourable to a successful vintage. Temperatures were high with 50 days over 30°C, the rainfall normal and the number of days that the Mistral blew significant. This is an important factor in the appellation, helping to keep disease (mildew and oïdium) at bay and concentrating the grapes.

The hot, dry, sunny weather during the harvest was also a positive factor. Sugar ripeness was achieved rapidly at the beginning of September but phenolic ripeness required extra time. 'Those that harvested too early had the alcohol but not full maturity. An extra week made all the difference,' says Michel Maret of Domaine de la Charbonnière. 'It was a year with great potential but one that could be thrown away at the harvest,' adds Versino.

Alcohol degrees are consequently high but the top wines all have balance and length. 'I was afraid the alcohol might be too invasive but the quality of the fruit masks this, the wines retaining an attractive consistency and freshness,' says Nicolas Boiron of Bosquet des Papes. 'I prefer the 2001 vintage to the 2000,' says oenologist Philippe Cambie, consultant to a number of top domaines. 'There are lots of fine tannins and soft but intense fruit, and a charm that comes close in style to top Burgundy.'

Tasting the 2001 vintage The wines were tasted blind in Châteauneuf-du-Pape at tastings organised for Decanter by the appellation's two syndicats, the Fédérations des Producteurs and the Syndicat Intercommunal. At each tasting the special cuvées were tasted separately from the regular wines and the best are listed separately here.

James Lawther MW is a contributing editor to Decanter, and is based in France.

Regular cuvées

Domaine Bois de Boursan***** Engaging nose of dark cherry fruit with a touch of confit. Lovely ripeness, balance and length. As elegant and rich as Châteauneuf can get. 2005–2015. £14.95–18.75 (2000); Adn, Arm, J&B, Lay

Clos des Papes***** Elegant cherry-raspberry ripeness. Rich, intense and persistent. Deceptively vigorous. 2005–2015. £23.50 (2000); Bib/ £214 (case 12, in bond); Gau/£24.99–28.95; Rae, Rbs

Les Amandiers (Raymond Usseglio)**** Dark fruit with notes of kirsch and dry herbs. Sweet, full attack, intense, balanced finish. 2005–2012. H&D

Domaine de Beaurenard **** Notes of cherry and dark fruit. Rich and plummy, glycerol and alcohol evident, tannins finely honed. 2005–2015. £16.99; BWC

Bosquet des Papes**** Fragrant nose of red fruits and spice (cinnamon). Lovely cherry-raspberry fruit extract combined with a chalky- mineral freshness. Good length. 2005–2015. £19.49; Loe

Domaine Chante-Perdrix**** Lovely lifted red berry fruit with a hint of cassis. Fresh and balanced. Elegant style. 2005–2014. N/A UK; +33 4 90 83 71 34

Domaine de Cristia**** Ripe, red fruit. Generous, mouthfilling attack, weight and volume but freshness on the finish. Delicious. 2005–2012. £11.70–13; HBa

Domaine Font de Michelle**** Red fruits with a nuance of thyme and laurel. Full, sweet attack, touch of kirsch, good depth and intensity. 2005– 2015. £123 (case 12, in bond); L&W/£137.50 (case 12, laid down abroad); Tan/£13.50 (1998); WSo

Domaine de la Janasse**** Rich, plummy extract with confit notes. Round and soft on attack, powerful tannins, fresh, balanced finish. 2005-2014. £8.50; EnW

Domaine des Relagnes**** Intense nose of dark red fruit mingled with herbs and black pepper. Lovely silky red fruit on the palate. 2005–2015. N/A UK; +33 4 90 83 73 37

Domaine des Sénéchaux**** Fragrant cherry-raspberry, almost Burgundian in style. Touch of spice, firm, fresh finish. 2005–2012. £14.95; BBR

Domaine Pierre Usseglio**** Ripe, confit, red fruits with a minerally nuance. Long, warm finish. 2005–2015. £155 (case 12, in bond); Gau

Domaine Paul Autard*** Lifted cherry-raspberry, pretty fruit, firmness on the finish. 2005–2012. t20 N/A UK; +33 4 90 70 73 15

La Bastide de Saint Dominique*** Attractive red berry fruits with a note of black olive. 2005–2012. £11.75 (1999); F&E

Domaine Chante Cigale*** Soft red fruits with a nuance of garrigue herb. Balanced, focused style. 2005–2014. £15.75; EnW, Yap

Domaine de la Charbonnière*** Fresh and fruity. Notes of summer fruits. 2004–2012 £16.95; GWW

Domaine Charvin *** Intense, dark fruits, almost blackcurrant and blackberry. 2005–2015. £215 (case 12) Lay/ £22 (limited stock); VTr

Les Clefs d'Or*** Solid, traditional style of Châteauneuf. 2006–2012. N/A UK; +33 4 90 83 71 74

Clos de l'Oratoire des Papes (Ogier)*** Creamy, cherry fruit, plenty of rich extract. 2004–2012. £15.99; Lai, Sai

Clos Saint Michel*** Red berry fruit with a touch of kirsch. Expressive, aromatic palate. 2004–2012. £18.20 (1998); CPy/£11.99 (2002); Wai

Cuvée du Vatican*** Dark fruits. Soft round attack, firm tannic structure. 2005–2012. £12.99; Lai

Château de la Gardine*** Balance, freshness and length. Tannins firm but well worked. 2005–2014. £15.99 (2000); See

Domaine Giraud*** Intense ripe, red fruits. Definite ageing potential. 2005–2015. £11.01; Asd n Domaine du Grand Tinel HHH Dark fruit and garrigue, a note of kirsch. Full bodied and heady. 2005–2012. £11.54–14.19; Ell, Hal

Mas de Bois Lauzan*** Ripe, confit fruit. Palate full and fat but with balancing freshness. 2005–2012. £15.99; BFV, DeF, SVS, Wpr, Wrt, You

Château Mont Redon**** Modern style with vanilla oak apparent. Notes of cassis and a hint of chocolate. 2006–2012. £175.33 (case 12, 1999); Per

Château La Nerthe*** Plenty of ripe, elegant fruit. Very fine, polished tannic frame. 2006–2014. £23.50 (2000); C&C

Château St Roch*** Touch of vanilla oak on the nose. Palate sweet on attack. Balancing freshness on the finish. 2005–2014. N/A UK; +33 4 66 82 82 59

Domaine de la Solitude*** Discreet nose of red fruits with a nuance of dry herbs. Quite plump and full on the palate. 2005–2012. £13.95; Hal

Special cuvées

Domaine Bois de Boursan, Cuvée des Félix***** Beautiful morello cherry nose, fragrant and intense with a hint of dry herbs. Great purity with balancing freshness and length. 2008– 2018. £35–44.20; Adn, Arm

Bosquet des Papes, Chante le Merle**** Attractive, lifted, almost Burgundian cherry-raspberry flavour and aroma. Great intensity and persistence, firm, tight tannic frame. 2007–2016. Loe (sold out)

Domaine de la Charbonnière, Vieilles Vignes**** Generous red fruit on the nose and palate – intense and finely honed. Firm tannic structure but polished and refined. Good length and persistence. 2007–2016. GWW (price on application)

Château de la Gardine, Cuvée des Générations**** Dark, spicy matière. Creamy vanilla oak on the nose and palate but well handled. Tannins firm but polished. Best of this 'modern' style. 2008–2015. £42.75 (1999); See

Domaine de la Janasse, Chaupin**** Attractive nose of crisp, dark, spicy fruit. Rich attack, lots of extract but harmonious. Firm, ripe tannins in behind. Good balance and length. 2007–2016. £32.90; EnW

Domaine du Père Pape, La Crau de Ma Mère**** Fragrant, almost perfumed nose of red berry fruit, a little Burgundian. Intense, aromatic fruit on the palate bound by a fine tannic structure. 2007–2015. £155 (case 12, in bond); Gdh

Domaine Pierre Usseglio, Cuvée de Mon Aieul**** Rich, concentrated wine with complex notes of dried fruits, kirsch, black olive and thyme. Powerful volume, weight and frame. Big, solid, traditional, but with extra dimension. 2007–2016. £195 (case 6); Gau

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