This was our third comparison of reds from Châteauneuf du Pape (the last time was in January 2011), and we all left wondering why we waited so long to try these again. These were impressive wines, with dense textures, lots of intensity, and high alcohol.
Our winner was a ten-year-old wine that was still very youthful and concentrated, while at the opposite end was a pricy bottling from a prestigious producer that left us disappointed overall. The best value of the night came in at second place, showing freshness and balance in a recent vintage.
First Place: Domaine de la Janasse Châteauneuf du Pape 2009. Looked unfiltered. Tasters found scents of seaweed, iodine, low tide, tomato, and rotten egg. Some of us were reminded of Petite Sirah. Ali detected "olive juice in a can", while Diana found "shellfish rotting on a mud flat." Dark and intense on the palate, with notions of chocolate, slate, silt, crushed up rocks, beef blood, salt, plums, ink, and licorice. Nice lasting aftertaste, featuring an herbal quality. Received points from everyone, and was David and Kristin's favorite, for a total of 27. Andy's bottle. About $55.
Second Place: Domaine du Vieux Lazaret Châteauneuf du Pape 2015. Aromas of cherry, dust, rose petals, asphalt, tar, blackberry, licorice, and a little burnt sugar. Ali felt that "it tastes like cheese and wine, creamy runny cheese", while others found flavors of cherries, oysters, leather, and cheese. Smooth texture, with an aluminum quality on the bright finish. Ends on an up note, and is almost refreshing. Everyone gave this some points, and was Ali and Matt's favorite, for a total of 20. Matt's bottle. About $36.
Third Place: Patrick Lesec Châteauneuf du Pape Pierres Dorées 2010. Diana found scents of "lily of the valley", while others were reminded of a springtime meadow, with an elegant, vegetal, freshness to it. With air, aromas of wet earth, toasty oak, fresh herbs, peat, British honeycomb, spearmint, eucalyptus, and caramel emerged. Dark and intense in the mouth, this was powerful and deep, showing some tannin. Ali was reminded of "liquid duck confit", while Diana noted that "it sort of reminds me of pool water, but also has all this dark stuff." Warming spices on finish, with Matt finding "pine -- resinous" qualities. Diana's favorite of the night, and only David neglected to give this any points, for a total of 19. David's bottle. About $43.
Domaine la Manarine Châteauneuf du Pape Pied de Baud 2015. Spicy nose, like pepper, cinnamon, and cloves, but also scents of seaweed/nori, Fruit Stripe gum, green tea, hops, red grapefruit, rising bread, and ginger beer. Diana was reminded of a "fresh breeze off the ocean." Tasty. Delicious. Brighter than some of the others, with a red grapefruit note, plus smoke, ashtray, cinnamon, raspberry, and watermelon. The lightest mouthfeel, with a complex tanginess. Andy's favorite of the night, with a total of 9 points. Kristin's bottle. About $46.
Domaine de Pignan Châteauneuf du Pape 2014. Complex nose of cough medicine, clover, honey, dairy, leather, bubble gum, flowers, licorice, tomato skin, butter, and sugar cookie. Kristin said that this was "the kind of funk I like", and compared it to Michael Jackson. Plump and rich palate, offering flavors of pepper, clove, chocolate, and red grapefruit. We were feeling the alcohol a bit more on this one. Not as much acidity as some of the others. Received 9 points. Diana's bottle. About $35.
Roger Sabon Châteauneuf du Pape Prestige 2013. We uniformly disliked the nose on this one, with scents reminiscent of cheese, diarrhea, dirty diaper, barnyard, rotting hay, and animals. Very fecal. Andy noted that "I think the baby went to McDonald's." Plenty of funky flavors, like a stable or sweaty animal. A cigar note. David detected an "unwashed Euro", but Ali later noted "an acceptable level of fecal." Andy was reminded of "panhandler money." Both Kristin and Ali thought this improved with air. No points. Ali's bottle. About $80.