Vintage report: 2011 Châteauneuf du Pape

Bumpy Ride

Following one of the best vintages of the last decade-2010-the 2011 vintage appears to be a little more irregular. Whilst some growers managed to produce beautiful wines, it will be a less clear vintage

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The 2011 growing season began with a very hot and dry spring, somewhat mitigated by rainfall in July. Poor weather at the beginning of August and exceptionally warm conditions towards the end of the month made for uneven ripening. Weather during the harvest was warm and sunny. The late-ripening grapes such as Mourvèdre tended to perform better than the earlier ripening varieties such as Syrah and Cinsault.

While this vintage does boast some outstanding wines, it pales by comparison with 2010. In general, the 2011 Châteauneuf du Papes lack the concentration, freshness and structure of their 2010 siblings. They are typically sweet, supple and plump, with high alcohols, bearing the signature of the warm and sunny weather that prevailed from mid-August. Some of the wines seem a little unbalanced at this early stage, and most wines seem set to mature precociously. All that said, some estates have made compelling wines that transcend the vintage character-and which are all the more impressive for that.

2011 Domaine de la Mordorée Châteauneuf du Pape, La Reine des Bois A deep purple colour is accompanied by notes of cool blackcurrant, blackberry liqueur, graphite and charcoal. Full-bodied and accessible, this is an appealing wine. (91-92 points)

2011 Château de Beautcastel white This wine offers expressive candle wax, honeysuckle and crisp cantaloupe melon fruit with great freshness and purity. 92 points

2011 Château de Beautcastel red This impressive and surprisingly accessible Beaucastel shows great ripeness and when I tasted it was dominated by lots of pure sweet blackberry fruit, liquorice and garrigue. Impressive density and length for the vintage complement its sweet approachability. (90-93 points)

2011 Domaine de la Janasse Châteauneuf du Pape Tradition This supple, sweet wine offers an abundance of black fruits and melted liquorice. The style of the vintage complements the Janasse style well, and this wine should be ready to drink on release. (89-91 points)

2011 Domaine de la Janasse Châteauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes Tasting like a slightly scaled-down version of the brilliant 2009 Vieilles Vignes, anyone who is familiar with that wine will enjoy this rendition of the cuvée. Very dense and full-bodied, Christophe Sabon told me this would be good, and I agree. It will be interesting to follow this wine’s evolution in foudre. (93-95 points)

2011 Domaine de Marcoux Châteauneuf du Pape Expansive aromas of dark cherries, ripe strawberry and an exotic spicy, medicine cabinet character make this full-bodied effort a very appealing wine. (90-91 points)

2011 Domaine de Marcoux Châteauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes What an impressive wine! Its dark flavour profile offers up loads of blackberry liqueur, melted liquorice complemented by more high-toned raspberry and strawberry candy notes. Rich and sweet, this was difficult to spit, even though it tasted relatively unevolved by the standards of the vintage. One of the wines of the vintage. (94-96+ points)

2011 Domaine Raymond Usseglio Châteauneuf du Pape La Part des Anges

At present this wine is tight and dominated by new wood, showing lots of creosote, tar and oak vanillin. Will it absorb it all? It has compelling density and richness, but I’m not certain. If it does it will be outstanding. (90-92? points)

2011 Domaine Raymond Usseglio Châteauneuf du Pape Impériale This impressively full-bodied and dense wine shows off aromas of blueberry, black cherry, black raspberry and tar. More forward than the 2010, it is lush and sweet but still has a substantial dose of fine tannins. (92-93+ points)

2011 Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf du Pape La Crau Lots of spice complements the blackberry and blackcurrant fruit in this wine. On the palate, however, this seemed a little slight and thin, so I wonder if it was a good sample? Perhaps small pours just made it hard to appraise. (89-91? points)

2011 Domaine Roger Sabon Châteauneuf du Pape  Cuvée Reserve With its aromas of blood, smoked meats and garrigue, this wine displays what my notes describe as ‘a bit of Pégau’. It is an impressive classic Châteauneuf, and not so far away from the level of the 2010. (89-91 points)

2011 Domaine Roger Sabon Châteauneuf du Pape  Cuvée Prestige The superiority of the 2010 sibling is less in doubt when it comes to the Prestige, but this too is a beautiful wine with a lovely layered texture and lots of mulberry fruit overlaid with some compelling nori characteristics. (91-93+ points)

2011 Domaine Roger Sabon Châteauneuf du Pape  Le Secret de Sabon Darker and deeper, and surely one of the wines of the vintage, offering up aromas of blackberry, cassis, tar and some attractively floral fruit candy notes, this will be one of the most long-term 2011s thanks to its huge endowments of fruit and tannin. (94-96 points)

2011 Domaine St Prefért Châteauneuf du Pape  Lots of raspberry and garrigue dominate the aromatics of this wine, but it comes across as somewhat drying. Small pours made this difficult to assess, but I cannot see this ever becoming an outstanding wine. (86-89 points)

2011 Domaine St Prefért Châteauneuf du Pape Reserve Auguste Favier This Cinsault-rich cuvée offers up notes of griotte cherry, blood and dried herbs, but it is also somewhat alarmingly tannic. Again, to properly appraise its texture a larger helping would have been useful. (87-90+? points)

2011 Domaine St Prefért Châteauneuf du Pape Charles Giraud Obviously much sweeter and with more textural authority, this wine shows some darker fruit along with attractive aromas of truffle and herbs. It is clearly outstanding. (90-92 points)

2011 Domaine de la Charbonnière Châteauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes Quite backward, the 2011 Vieilles Vignes shows lots of deep cassis and strawberry jam, along with some charcoal aromas. It should be unusually long-lived. (91-92+)

2011 Domaine de Pegau Very classic Pegau aromas of smoked meats, animal fur, garrigue and deep blackberry and kirsch fruit, this admirable wine shows great sweetness and an approachable texture. Better than the 2008, this wine tastes like a scaled-down version of the 2010. It is likely that a Cuvée Laurence will also be produced this year. (92-94 points)

2011 Bosquet des Papes Chante le Merle Vieilles Vignes An impressive wines, the 2011 Bosquet des Papes Chante le Merle Vieilles Vignes is deeply-colored and thick textured, with a seductive bouquet of black cherry, cassis, blackberry, licorice and some beautifully fragrant floral notes. Impressive ripeness and concentration are accompanied by an authoritatively long finish. This wine is much more supple and easy-going than its 2010 counterpart, but it does not fall far short in terms of quality, and it will be fascinating to follow its evolution. (94-96 points)

2011 Clos Saint Jean Châteauneuf du Pape The regular cuvée displays aromas of plums, black cherry, underbrush and roasted herbs, along with a hint of alcohol. This is a plump, sweet, fruit forward wine, but it lacks the concentration and persistence of the 2010. Think of it as an updated version of Clos Saint Jean’s 2009 Châteauneuf du Pape. (89-91 points)

2011 Clos Saint Jean Châteauneuf du Pape La Combe des Fous This blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Cinsault and 10% Vaccarese is terrifically impressive, exploding with scents of black raspberry and other black fruits, white flowers and lavender, along with a supple, almost delicate texture, and the layered, authoritative flavours one expects from this estate. (93-95 points)

2011 Clos Saint Jean Châteauneuf du Pape Deus ex Machina Composed of 60% Grenache and 40% Mourvèdre, the Deus ex Machina is darker, tighter, and longer on the palate than the Combe des Fous. The new barrel ageing of the Mourvèdre component is apparent at this stage in the aromatic profile that includes lots of charcoal, liquorice, roasted herbs and blackberry liqueur. This is an impressive wine which again calls Clos Saint Jean’s 2009s to mind. (94-96 points)

2011 Clos des Papes red The 2011 Clos des Papes burts from the glass with a classic nose of kirsch, flowers, and lavender. This delightful, ruby-hued wine is well-balanced and fresh, with some tar and notable structure on the palate. Vincent Avril compares this vintage’s structure to 2009, and its freshness to 2008. (94-96 points)

2011 [Cuvée Marie Beurrier] This cask, probably destined for the cuvée Marie Beurrier, displayed a deep red colour and fragrant aromas of orange peel, griotte cherry and ripe redcurrant fruit, along with plenty of freshness for this vintage. (92-94)

2011 [Réserve de Célestins] While a similar colour, the 2011 P is significantly deeper in its aromatic profile, showing darker berry fruit-even some jammy blueberries at this unevolved stage-with a rounder, more voluptuous texture. It will be fascinating to see how this wine evolves. When it is finally released it should surely be one of the wines of the vintage. (93-96+)

2011 Domaine la Barroche Pure Julien Barrot has done it again! The 2011 Pure is laden with cherry jam, liquorice, and dried lavender. Layered and voluptuous, this is clearly a big wine but its 17.3% alcohol is hidden by vast reserves of fruit and an impressive finish. Julien prefers 2010 and 2012 to this ‘solar’ vintage, but this is nonetheless one of the wines of the vintage, and any admirers of this cuvée, since 2005 one of the appellation’s most compelling wines, will need to acquire some. (94-96+ points)  

2011 Domaine la Barroche Signature The 2011 Signature was co-fermented, as Julien continues to experiment with different approaches to his ‘regular’ cuvée. It is one of the few 2011s that seems to be up to the standard of what was achieved in 2010, offering up a precise and well-integrated nose of red and black fruits (cassis), subtle herbs and some loamy soil notes, along with an impressively balanced palate impression. (90-93 points)      

Written by William Kelley

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