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Average critic rating : 94.0 points
Described as a “complicated” vintage by Jean-Paul, the 2003 Chateauneuf du Pape is a blockbuster-styled effort that shows the vintage’s perfumed, ripe character. Giving up plenty of spices, saddle leather, licorice and roasted herb qualities, it has a core of sweet fruit, full-bodied richness and depth, and a finish that pumps out loads of fruit. There’s still some underlying tannin here to watch going forward, but it’s hard to resist and one character-filled wine to drink over the coming 3-5 years. ||One of my favorite producers, Vieille Julienne is run by the brilliant Jean-Paul Daumen. Coming all from a cool, mostly sandy terroir located in the northern part of the appellation, these traditionally made wines possess singular characters that have both richness and depth on the palate, as well as notable elegance and freshness. They epitomize this tiny terroir and are more Vieille Julienne than they are Chateauneuf du Pape. For this tasting, we focused on his traditional Chateauneuf (which is now broken up into two cuvees, the Trois Sources and the Hauts Lieux) and his Reserve bottling, which is produced only when this tiny plot of vines offers something unique to say. Looking first at Jean-Paul’s traditional Chateauneuf (made up until 2009), it is always a rough blend of close to 90% Grenache, with smaller components of Syrah, Mourvedre, Counoise and Cinsault. Completely destemmed, it’s aged in older foudre and never sees any new wood. While it comes from a cooler terroir in the northern part of the appellation (and Jean-Paul favors harvesting on the earlier side), it never lacks for richness and is a concentrated, structured effort that benefits from cellar time. Moving to the Reserve bottling, this cuvee comes from a single plot of 100+-year-old vines, planted in what looks like pure beach sand. It’s also slightly more Grenache dominated than the classic cuvee, with the blend containing 90-95% Grenache and the balance Cinsault and Syrah. It too is completely destemmed and aged all in older foudres. First made in 1994, it’s only produced when Jean-Paul feels that the plot has something special to say.||Available in the U.S. through Vin Connect Inc., Tel. (415) 857-5740; www.vinconnect.com eRobertParker.com.August, 2014
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