BARGAIN RHONE: Vieux Donjon 2015
With many of the tiny production, mega-cuvée Châteauneuf du Papes now commanding crazy money, one can lose sight of the incredible value this region offers. The truth is that the Rhône arguably offers a quality/value ratio unmatched throughout France, if not the whole of Europe; in a recent Rhône review for Antonio Galloni’s VinousMedia website, Josh Raynolds sums it up perfectly: “in many cases these releases come far closer to the quality of their limited-production high-end siblings than price differentials would suggest.”
One of the very best value, traditionally-styled Châteauneuf du Papes is the brilliant Vieux Donjon. The Domaine is owned by Lucien and Marie José Michel, with the winemaking now firmly in the hands of their talented daughter, Claire Michel – who cut her teeth at California’s Harlan Estate before taking over the family business. The wine is a powerful, traditional, but beautifully concentrated style with the potential to age for 15 or more years, particularly in the top vintages; we have tasted mature examples which have retained beautiful shape, fruit and structure.
Rather than confusing matters with multiple bottlings, this is a straightforward operation: they produce just one red Châteauneuf du Pape and a limited quantity of white. The red is always a rough blend of 75% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre and the balance a mix of other local varieties. The total production is a mere 4,000 cases, roughly half that of Chateau de Beaucastel.
Jeb Dunnuck is a huge fans of the Domaine that he considers as follow “Along with a small handful of other estates, I consider Claire Michel’s le Vieux Donjon at the top of the heap when it comes to classic, age-worthy and traditionally made Châteauneuf du Papes.” We’ve long been huge fans of these wines too and believe that at this price, the 2015 is an unapologetic steal.
- Price: £310.00
- Pack Size: 12 x 0.75L
- Status: IB
- Quantity: 25
- ETA: Autumn 2017
Tasting Notes and Scores
I loved the 2015 Châteauneuf du Pape from Claire Michel and it’s a classic blend of 75% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre and 5% Cinsault, mostly from rolled stone terroirs, that was partially destemmed and brought up all in foudre. It’s a downright sexy, voluptuous 2015 offering textbook notes of kirsch liqueur, ground pepper, herbes de Provence, and incense. It picks up more dark fruit with time in the glass, is full-bodied, has plenty of fat and glycerin, and ample tannin, although they’re so polished you have to hunt for them. This gorgeous example of traditionally made Châteauneuf du Pape that’s going to drink beautifully for 15+ years. Jeb Dunnuck <>