Saturday, July 1, 2006

TN: 2003 M. Chapoutier "La Bernardine", Chateauneuf-du-Pape

[$40/750ml, 14.5% Alc.]

100% Grenache.

Soil / Terroir: Quaternary terrace, with a surface of rolled stones coming from the former bed of the Rhône.

Harvesting: The grapes are carefully selected during the harvest ; this selection is compulsory for the wine to be given the Appellation.

Vinification: In vats made of concrete covered with exposy resin, because grenache is very sensitive to oxydation. The grapes are 100% destemmed before being placed in vats. Fermentation lasts from 15 days to 3 weeks at a temperature which does not exceed 32°C.

Maturation: In oak barrels and vats for 12 to 15 months.

TN: First glass out of the bottle (the rest being decanted). Clear and penetrating ruby red color. One sniff and I was very happy! I'm getting focused dark fruits, definitely plums there, and then it's smokey, gamey, barnyard (good way) and a bit oak vanilla. I also detected some coffee nose there (Java or Sumatra?). Full bodied with bright lively acidity. Blueberries emerges in the mouth. The acid was a plus, considering how hot the 2003 growing weather was all around France and Europe. Still very tight and tannic being fresh out of the bottle. Somewhat spicy and hot finish. 40 sec finish.

After 2.5 hours in the decanter: the wine turns fruitier than before. Perdominantly blueberries and plums, framed with oak and a hint of vanilla. There is a bit of gamey-ness left, but it has somewhat dissipated. Coffee and liquirice are present. Still tight and the tannin somewhat coarse. I believe this wine has a long bottle life ahead, albeit the alcohol is a bit hot in the back.

10 hours in the decanter: of cherries, red fruits and violet. Tannin was still unrelentlessly tight and puckery, no sign of mellowing out.

3+ stars (g - vg)


toki said...

R. Parker had an article in the latest "Food & Wine" about this area. The next bottle / bottles on my menu!

~ Phyll said...

Toki, I tasted this wine in participation of a Chateauneuf-du-Pape taste off at winexiles. I didn't realize that, in addition to Parker's article in Food & Wine, it is also the main cover subject in the latest Wine Spectator magazine.

It seems these wines invited good reactions among individual participants:

2001 E. Guigal CdP
2003 Les Beaux Cairois CdP
2001 & 2003 Chante Cigale CdP

My humble opinion is that, if you want to open it now (or very soon), don't get the one I tasted as it's still too tight for enjoying by itself or with food. Good potential though.