JEB DUNNUCK – SOUTHERN RHÔNE: THE CHARMING, PROVENÇAL 2018S AND THE MORE CONCENTRATED, CLASSIC 2019S

« Readers can find additional information on the 2018 vintage in last year’s Southern Rhône Report, but to summarize, 2018 is a good, not great, vintage for the south that delivers upfront, charming, and Provençal wines to enjoy on release and over the coming decade or so. Few wines possess genuinely great concentration or depth, but are already complex, undeniably delicious, and loaded with character. While the vintage has few superstars, the quality at the mid-level is incredibly high, and unquestionably, the base cuvees from 2018 are as good as those from better vintages such as 2007, 2009, 2010, 2016, and 2017.

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The 2019s will be a step up over the 2018s and offer more depth, concentration, and richness, all while showing considerable purity of fruit and elegance. While the year will be known for its hot, dry summer, the region saw substantial precipitation late in 2018 as well as early in 2019. A normal spring (just under 100 millimeters of rainfall) saw a healthy fruit set and yields are up over 2018 and 2017. This early-season rainfall is essential when trying to understand the vintage.

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I’ll review these wines in depth next year, but in short, 2019 appears to be a beautiful, possibly exceptional, vintage for the Southern Rhône and is superior to 2018. »

– Jeb Dunnuck, jebdunnuck.com, October 6, 2020

 

Vaucluse Le Pigeoulet blanc 2019
90. Starting with the 2019 Vaucluse Le Pigeoulet Blanc, this beauty is based on Grenache Blanc, Clairette, and Roussanne brought up in foudre. This light gold hued white offers a crisp bouquet of honeyed citrus, white flowers, and salty mineral-like notes. These all carry to a medium-bodied white that’s nicely balanced, has a spine of vibrant acidity, and a classy finish. It’s well worth checking out, and while I always think these are best drunk in their youth, I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see this evolve over 7-8 years given the acidity and concentration.

Vaucluse Le Pigeoulet rouge 2019
88-90. Moving to the reds and starting with the 2019 Vaucluse Le Pigeoulet, this perennial winner offers a deeper ruby/plum color as well as a great nose of jammy black and red berry fruits intermixed with lots of peppery herbs and earth. Fleshy, medium-bodied, and already delicious, enjoy this on release and over the following 3-5 years. It competes with any number of top Cotes du Rhône out there.

Ventoux Megaphone rouge 2019
90-92. A step up in class and elegance, the 2019 Ventoux Megaphone checks in as 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah that’s from a single vineyard in the Ventoux appellation. Its deep ruby/purple color is followed by a beautifully Provençal nose of spiced red and black fruits, peppery herbs, and flowery incense. With medium to full-bodied richness, a terrific sense of minerality, notable balance, and a lengthy finish, it’s another winner from this team that will impress for another 5-7 years.

 

Gigondas 2018s

Les Racines rouge 2018
92+. Slightly deeper and richer, with a more backward style, the 2018 Gigondas Les Racines reveals a deeper ruby/plum color as well as terrific notes of ripe black cherries, roasted garrigue, scorched earth, and ground pepper. Rich, medium to full-bodied, and concentrated, with plenty of underlying structure, it’s a terrific 2018 that’s going to benefit from 2-3 years of bottle age and drink brilliantly over the following decade or more.

Terrasse Du Diable rouge 2018
92. Moving to the two 2018s, the 2018 Gigondas Terrasse Du Diable is primarily Grenache that comes from higher elevation, terraced vineyards in the eastern side of the Gigondas appellation. Offering lots of spiced red fruits, dried fruits, graphite, and some obvious minerality, this beauty is medium to full-bodied, has a seamless, elegant texture, and a great finish. It’s another no brainer Gigondas from this estate to enjoy over the next 10-15 years.

 

Gigondas 2019s

Les Racines rouge 2019
92-94+. More black currants, blueberries, peppery garrigue, licorice and mineral notes define the 2019 Gigondas Les Racines and it’s another beautifully rich, layered, textured barrel sample from this estate that’s going to benefit from short term cellaring.

Terrasse Du Diable rouge 2019
91-93+. Moving to the two 2019s from barrel, the 2019 Gigondas Terrasse Du Diable showed beautifully, with lots of red and blue fruits intermixed with notes of candied violets, cracked black pepper, and violets. It’s rich, medium to full-bodied, has a touch more mid-palate density than the 2018, and enough tannins to warrant a year or three of bottle age.

Vin De France Au Petit Bonheur rosé 2019
90. A beautifully little rose, the 2019 Vin De France Au Petit Bonheur Rosé reveals a lighter salmon hue as well as a great nose of cotton candy, dried spices, and loamy soil. With lots of minerality, medium-bodied richness, and a great texture, as well as a dry, clean finish, it’s going to shine on the dinner table and is ideal for drinking over the coming year.

 

Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2018s

Vieux Télégraphe 2018
94. The flagship of the great estate is the 2018 Châteauneuf Du Pape and it could quite possibly be one of the longest lived wines in the 2018 vintage, which in general, is a charming, forward vintage geared for consumption in the first decade of life. Revealing a more ruby, almost translucent color as well as a greal perfume of wild strawberries, blackberries, Asian spices, peppery garrigue, and flowers, it hits the palate with medium to full-bodied richness, a building, undeniable sense of minerality, plenry of mid-palate depth, and enough tannins to warrant 2-3 years or bottle age. lt has the more upfront, expressive style of the vintage yet my money is on this evolving for 15-20 years

Télégramme rouge 2018
90. The quality of the entry-level cuvée from this estate has soared over the past decade and the 2018 Chàteauneuf Du Pape Télégramme is unquestionably an outstanding wine. Revealing a deep ruby/purple color as well as Provençal notes of spiced blue fruits, ground pepper, garrigue, and violets, it has medium to full-bodied richness, plenty of mid -palate depth (which can be lacking in a number of 2018s), notable balance, and just a delicious, Provençal, ready to go style. lt’s ideal for enjoying anytime over the coming 7-8 years.

 

Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2019s

Vieux Télégraphe blanc 2019
95. One of my favorite whites from the south of France is Daniel Brunier’s Châteaneuf du Pape Blanc and his 2019 is another stunning effort. Always a blend of Clairette, Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, and Bourboulenc brought up in foudre, this beauty boasts and exotic nose of honeyed peach, quince, crushed citrus, and salty minerality, all with a floral edge. Medium to full-bodied on the palate with flawless balance and beautifully integrate acidity, enjoy this concentrated white anytime over the coming 15-20 years.

Vieux Télégraphe rouge 2019
96-98. Looking at the flagship 2019 Châteauneuf du Pape from this benchmark estate, it reveals a denser ruby/purple color as well as stunning notes of smoke red and black fruits, crushed rocks, peppery garrigue, and truffly earth. Hitting the palate with full-bodied richness, it stays tight and compact on the palate, with terrific mid-palate depth, a focused, structure mouthfeel and one great finish. This is a brilliant Châteauneuf du Pape from the Brunier family that’s going to benefit from upwards of 5-7 years of bottle age and have 30+ years of overall longevity.

Piedlong rouge 2019
93-95. Coming from the plateau in the center of the appellation and 90% Grenache and 10% Mourvèdre, the 2019 Châteauneuf du Pape Piedlong boasts a more ruby-translucent color to go with feminine, perfumed notes of wild strawberries, loamy soil, herbes de Provence, and peppery garrigue. Playing in the medium to full-bodied end of the spectrum, it has terrific overall balance, some grainy, present tannins, and a great finish. This is another terrific 2019 in the making that’s going to benefit from 2-3 years of bottle age and keep for 10-15 years.

Télégramme rouge 2019
91-93+. Moving to the 2019s, these unquestionably have another level of concentration and depth over the 2018s. Starting with the 2019 Châteauneuf du Pape Télégramme, this deep purple-hued beauty boasts a great nose of both black and blue fruits, peppery herbs, and crushed stone to go with a medium to full-bodied, meaty, mouthfilling style on the palate. It’s one of the more structured vintages for this cuvée that I can recall, and it also might just be one of the best yet.

Domaine La Roquète Clos La Roquète blanc 2019
95. The Domaine La Roquète releases are made by the team at Vieux Télégraphe. Lots of white flowers, honeyed melon, white peach, and quince like aromas and flavors emerge from the 2019 Châteauneuf Du Pape Clos La Roquete Blanc and it’s medium to full-bodied, has a great sense of salty minerality, solid mid- palate fleshy, and a dry, crisp finish. This smoking good white can be drunk over the coming 10-15 years.

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