Leads with warm ganache and fig bread notes followed quickly by raspberry reduction accents that take some time to unwind. Showcases plum pâte de fruit sanguine and black licorice notes with a flicker of Turkish coffee underscoring the finish and giving this a decidedly dark profile in the end. Grenache Syrah Mourvèdre Cinsault Vaccarèse and Muscardin. Best from 2024 through 2038. ?J.M.
As usual, the 2020 Châteauneuf Du Pape Vieilles Vignes brings more richness and depth without losing any sense of elegance or balance. Blackberries, ground herbs, chalky minerality and loamy earth flow to a ripe, medium to full-bodied, seamless, incredibly elegant 2020 with tons of character. It will evolve for 10-15 years as well.
A bottling for the American importer (Eric Solomon/European Selections) the 2020 Chateauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes is blended to the same proportions as the main cuvée (75% Grenache 15% Syrah and the rest a mix of other permitted red varieties) but it includes more old-vine Grenache. It's all destemmed and reached 16% alcohol this vintage so it's a slightly bigger richer wine loaded with black cherries and dried spices. Full-bodied concentrated and velvety it's a lush long-finishing beauty that should drink well for over a decade. 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