Lastly, the 2020 Châteauneuf Du Pape Sanctus Sanctorum is always all Grenache from a single parcel of very old vines in the La Crau lieu-dit. I wouldn't be surprised if there was a touch of whole cluster here, but in general this cuvée is mostly destemmed. Brought up in equal parts new and once-used demi-muids, it offers a brilliant array of kirsch liqueur, blackberries, herbes de Provence, and scorched earth, with just a kiss of classy background oak. This is never the biggest or richest wine in the lineup (it's also never the deepest colored), but it's a wine that brings incredible intensity, depth, and complexity while staying flawlessly balanced. It needs just a few years in the cellar and should evolve for two decades. It's a singular expression of old vine Grenache that I wish every reader could taste.jd
Very alluring and while densely packed this is very silky and refined in feel. Presents perfumed raspberry cherry and plum puree notes laced with sandalwood incense and rooibos tea. Flirts with exotic as the fruit hangs on the finish where a sweet wood spice hint echoes late. Approachable for its beguiling nature but there's no rush at all. Drink now through 2040. ?J.M.
There are two new demi-muids of the 2020 Chateauneuf du Pape Sanctus Sanctorum pure Grenache grown on red clay soils the only Grenache in the cellar that goes into wood for aging. Cedar and menthol notes accent black cherries blackberries and raspberries. The fruit is kaleidoscopic the wood luscious and the wine full-bodied lush and velvety and long on the finish. In both 2022 and 2023 I had a chance to sit and taste with Vincent Maurel and his nephew Valentin who recently completed his enological studies. The opportunity to compare and contrast the 2020 and 2021 vintages at this benchmark estate makes for compelling "work." Other members of the next generation are expected to join the business in the next several years with Vincent's son Hugo currently studying enology in Spain and his niece (Valentin's sister) Claire studying commerce. The future of this family estate of 48 hectares seems secure although as Vincent points out "The estate which arrived from my father grandfather and great-grandfather is not a cash machine." All of the various cuvées that emerge from the modern cellar in the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape are consistently excellent but the Maurel family seems to excel in difficult vintages. Perhaps it was just the different behaviors of the vintages post-bottling but I actually preferred the fragrance and perfumes of the 2021s at this domaine. Vincent Maurel described the year as marked by frost then being relatively cool and rainy resulting in more elegant softer wines. Most of the estate wasn't damaged by the frost (only about 10% according to Vincent) so it was a question of spraying regularly and staying on top of mildew pressure much like in 2018 or 2011. He seemed to prefer the 2020s saying "I love this year because all the different elements are in their place. The right balance you have the structure you have the maturity but you also have the freshness." Quantities of the 2022s will be very limited and some cuvées may not be bottled as much of the family's holding are in la Crau which was heavily impacted by the hailstorm that swept across that portion of the appellation on August 14. Fans may therefore want to buy up ample stocks of the 2020s and 2021s reviewed here. Published: Oct 12 2023