|Village||Châteauneuf du Pape|
Really remarkable: a rich nose of deep fruit and palate that is full of griotte cherry and damson, a very dark expression. The darkest of fruit flavours but in a gloriously round and voluptuous way - just enough grip, and the juicy acidity makes it mouth-watering and hard not to swallow. Sweet and balanced fruit remains long after. There's a bit more wood here than on the other cuvées, but the shape and feel make it definitely one of Jean-Marie's wines - not too much massiveness, this remains elegant and all about seamless length. Drinking range: 2020 - 2035 L&S (Jan 2018)
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Also deeply colored, the 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Les Sables de La Crau is 100% Grenache from sandy soils, and it was raised all in demi-muids. With a huge nose of blueberries, crushed flowers, cedarwood, and baking spice, it hits the palate with a full-bodied, silky style, no hard edges, beautiful purity of fruit, and a great, great finish. It's one of the most profound wines I've tasted from this estate. Drinking range: 2018 - 2034 Rating: 96 Jeb Dunnuck, www.jebdunnuck.com (Aug 2018)
Limpid ruby. Powerful aromas of fresh raspberry and candied cherry pick up incense, lavender and exotic spice nuances with air. Deeply concentrated red berry preserve and spicecake flavors are complicated by suggestions of smoky minerals and floral pastilles. Supple, even tannins give shape to the strikingly long, mineral-tinged finish, which emphatically echoes the floral note. Rating: 93-95 Josh Raynolds, www.vinousmedia.com (Jul 2018)
I suspect the 100% Grenache 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Les Sables de La Crau will be even better than the 2015. Loads of ripe blueberries, sandalwood, spice, and incense emerge from the glass of this beauty and it's a ripe, hedonistic, incredibly sexy wine that has terrific purity, fine tannin, and a blockbuster finish. Reminding me of the Vieilles Vignes cuvée from Domaine de Marcoux (one of my favorite wines in the world), it should keep for 10-15 years. Drinking range: 2018 - 2033 Rating: 94-96 Jeb Dunnuck, www.jebdunnuck.com (Feb 2018)
Domaine Jean Royer
Jean-Marie Royer inherited his vines in 1985 and set about improving the grape varietal mix and the vinification from then. Since more than half of the domaine is in unclassified 'Vin de Table' or 'Côtes du Rhône', he has developed a marque 'Le Petit Roy' sold as 'Vin de Table' for everything that does not make it into the Châteauneuf cuvées. The Petit Roy has been a big hit in the shops.
His Châteauneufs are just gorgeous, and in the context of some of the Parkerised dottiness going on, offer refreshingly fantastic value for money. He has undoubtedly been much helped by his close friend the star oenologist Philippe Cambié, who he went to school with and also played rugby with for many years. Cambié is more famous for a full-on rather extracted style, but Jean-Marie has imposed his own, fresher, brighter style on all his wines, which are crunchy and well-defined.
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