While there was no Vieilles Vignes bottling produced this vintage, the 2018 Chateauneuf du Pape stands out for its remarkable perfume of garrigue and spice, which epitomizes the complexity attainable solely from grapes in this remarkable appellation. Tendrils of dried herbs entwine raspberries and black cherries, accented by hints of Asian five-spice powder. It's medium to full-bodied and delicately dusty in feel, generous yet softly structured, with a lingering, elegant finish. Drink this beauty over the next decade or so.
Drink 2020 - 2033
Joe Czerwinski, Wine Advocate (Sep 2020)
A blend of 80% Grenache, 10% Mourvèdre and the rest Syrah brought up in a mix of foudre and concrete tanks, the 2018 Châteauneuf Du Pape reveals a slightly deeper ruby/purple hue to go with ripe, sexy aromas and flavors of red and black currants, roasted herbs, black licorice, and smoked meats. This big, rich, nicely concentrated 2018 has rock-solid mid-palate depth and sweet tannins and a great finish, all making for one seriously delicious Châteauneuf du Pape that’s going to drink nicely for 15+ years.
Drink 2020 - 2035
Jeb Dunnuck, jebdunnuck.com (Jun 2020)
Brilliant ruby. Deeply perfumed red and blue fruit and floral aromas are complemented by suggestions of exotic spices, licorice and smoky minerals. Juicy and concentrated in style, offering appealingly sweet cherry and raspberry liqueur flavors that become livelier and spicier as the wine opens up. Shows impressive power and breadth, and the long, floral- and spice-driven finish is shaped by steadily building tannins. Note that there was no Vieilles Vignes bottling made in 2018.
Drink 2024 - 2034
Josh Raynolds, vinous.com (Aug 2021)
About this WINE
Domaine de Marcoux
Sisters Sophie and Catherine Armenier have elevated Marcoux to the very highest ranks. Today, Sophie diligently runs the winery, while her son Vincent Estevenin looks after the vineyards. Now, there are 27 hectares split into over 20 parcels: 18 hectares lie right in the heart of the prime Châteauneuf-du-Pape terroir of La Crau plateau, the remainder rest in Lirac and the other Côtes du Rhône villages. Certified as organic by Ecocert as early as 1991, this year marks four decades of rigorous organic and then biodynamic principles.
The domaine makes three main wines: a Lirac, their main Châteauneuf-du-Pape and an exceptional Châteauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes – the top cuvée from this organically certified domaine. It’s made from two parcels of outstanding, old-vine Grenache: Charbonnières, planted in ’00, and Esqueirons, planted in ’49.
Sophie Armenier comments that 2020 is elegant, supple and balanced – combining freshness and delicacy. The domaine’s approach to employing long macerations during fermentation complements the succulent characteristics of ’20 extremely well, resulting in mineral-fresh wines with silky tannins.
The most celebrated village of the Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape is the birthplace of the now indispensable French Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée system – imperfect though it may be. Compared to the Northern Rhône, the vineyards here are relatively flat and often feature the iconic galet pebbles – the precise benefits of which are a source of much debate. Minimum alcohol levels required by the AOC are the highest in France, but at 12.5% it is well below the natural generosity of Grenache, which only achieves its full aromatic potential when it is fully ripe and laden with the resultant high sugars. Syrah and Mourvèdre contribute the other defining elements in the blend, adding pepper, savoury spice and structure to the decadent Grenache. There are a further 10 permitted red grape varieties which can be used to adjust the “seasoning”. Of the five white varieties permitted, it is Grenache Noir’s sibling – predictably perhaps – Grenache Blanc, which dominates, though Roussanne shows a great deal of promise when handled well, notably at Château de Beaucastel.
Grenache (Noir) is widely grown and comes in a variety of styles. Believed to originate in Spain, it was, in the late 20th century, the most widely planted black grape variety in the world. Today it hovers around seventh in the pecking order. It tends to produce very fruity, rich wines that can range quite widely in their level of tannin.
In many regions – most famously the Southern Rhône, where it complements Syrah and Mourvèdre, among other grapes – it adds backbone and colour to blends, but some of the most notable Châteauneuf du Pape producers (such as Château Rayas) make 100 percent Grenache wines. The grape is a component in many wines of the Languedoc (where you’ll also find its lighter-coloured forms, Grenache Gris and Blanc) and is responsible for much southern French rosé – taking the lead in most Provence styles.
Found all over Spain as Garnacha Tinta (spelt Garnaxa in Catalonia), the grape variety is increasingly detailed on wine labels there. Along with Tempranillo, it forms the majority of the blend for Rioja’s reds and has been adopted widely in Navarra, where it produces lighter styles of red and rosado (rosé). It can also be found operating under a pseudonym, Cannonau, in Sardinia.
Beyond Europe, Grenache is widely planted in California and Australia, largely thanks to its ability to operate in high temperatures and without much water. Particularly in the Barossa Valley, there are some extraordinary dry-farmed bush vines, some of which are centuries old and produce wines of startling intensity.