The 2009 is showing better out of bottle than it was last year. Gorgeous kirsch liqueur notes, raspberry jam, forest floor, spice box, new saddle leather and a peppery spiciness are all present in this deep, voluptuously textured, open-knit Clos des Papes, which is atypically forward, luscious and approachable already. These wines often need a good 5-10 years of cellaring in the more structured vintages, but the 2009 is gorgeous from the get-go. This full-bodied, deep, concentrated wine has a deep purple color and should drink well for 20-25 years without ever really closing down. Readers may want to think of this as a slightly more concentrated version of the 2003, which is one of the great stars of that vintage.
Deep ruby. Intensely perfumed cherry, garrigue and flowers on the nose, plus notes of licorice and smoky Moroccan spices. At once fleshy and sappy, with incisive, spicy red fruit flavors complicated by herbs and floral pastilles. Finishes spicy and with superb intensity, echoing the spice and floral notes emphatically. This sample was a blend from five of Avril's giant, mostly old foudres Avril averred that "14.5% alcohol is the jumping off point for high-quality grenache, any less and the flavors aren't complete. This should be just above that so it will be fresh and balanced."
This year for the first time he's made a blended cuvée for tasters because he found the blend in the glass didn't last very well. We tasted each of his five separate cuves: one Grenache dominated and rich; one with more Syrah and liquorice and stricter; one all cherry charm; one very sappy with lovely ripe tannins.
The blend: still a little reduced even after a long walk of swirling round the chai but there is class here. But it's meaty and masculine. He thinks it will close up fast after bottling in May 2011. A bit of liquorice and leather on the nose but wonderful richness on the palate, glorious breadth and the tannins are nowhere to be seen! Majestic. Great power but no beast, early signs are very good indeed. Structure and fine tannins, lightly leathery, starts to close a little on the end but it's really a miracle of improvement over the five lovely ingredients. Drink 2020-2035
I tasted through various foudres of the 2009 Chateauneuf du Pape and it is unquestionably a top-flight wine for Clos des Papes that is seductive and forward by the standards of this estate. It reminded me of the precocious style of the 2003, and Avril told me the 2009 is less alcoholic than either the 2003 or 2007, and the pH is a normal 3.75. Yields were a very small 20 hectoliters per hectare, largely because of their selection process and the drought. Every foudre I tasted was beautifully pure displaying a deep ruby/plum color, sweet kirsch and black raspberry fruit, full body, decent acidity (they never acidify here) and sweet, velvety tannins. This should turn out to be a mid-90-point wine that will take a back seat to the 2007, possibly even to their monumental 2006, but will surpass what they did in 2008, 2005, 2004, 1999 and 1998. The 2009 is a beautiful success that should drink well for 15+ years.