55% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre, 10% Syrah, 5% others. Certified organic. Cask sample tasted at the domaine.
Fragrant and fine aromatically with cherry and kirsch notes. Palate rich, suave and supple, the Grenache component to the fore. Tannins are really fine and integrated, offering length and persistence and devoid of any aggression. Not the power of some vintages but elegant and pure in style.
Drink 2026 - 2038
James Lawther MW, JancisRobinson.com (November 2021)
A very Clos des Papes vintage,' says Vincent Avril, and I know what he means - a vintage that naturally delivers the kind of fresh, elegant wines that this estate is famous for. A tasting of several foudres points to a natural, easy, balanced wine.
The Mourvèdre is excellent here this year and adds great depth to the fresh and delightful Grenache with notes of black tea, black cherry and iron. Elegant and very fine.
Drink 2023 - 2042
Matt Walls, Decanter.com (October 2021)
The 2020 Châteauneuf Du Pape showed brilliantly and is certainly one of the stars in the vintage. Based on 55% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre, and the rest Syrah and other permitted varieties, it shines for its elegance and purity, offering a wonderful core of red and black fruits, medium to full body, silky, incredibly polished tannins, flawless balance, and already complex notes of flowers, sappy garrigue,
Provençal spice. It has the estate's incredible ability to bring wonderful intensity and richness while staying graceful and seamless. It reminds me slightly of the 2012, possibly the 2006, and while it already offers pleasure, it will evolve for 20+ years in cold cellars.
Drink 2022 - 2044
Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com (November 2022)
About this WINE
Paul Avril et Fils
With Vincent Avril at the helm, Clos des Papes is one of the most highly regarded properties; not only in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but in the world of wine. This family estate has been certified organic for 15 years, with high attention to detail translating into impressively low production levels. Given that the vines here average over 50 years of age, they are firmly prepared and able to withstand many ordeals, including Mistral winds at 140 kilometres an hour, severe heatwaves and drought conditions. Thankfully, they were spared from the latter two in 2020.
When you visit this iconic estate, what stands out most is the complete focus on the vineyard and the absolutely hands-off approach in the cellar. The wines are amongst the purest expression of terroir you could ever wish to taste. There is a magic here that transcends the liquid in the bottle – Clos des Papes is a nonpareil of sheer brilliance.
Vincent is exceptionally happy with his ’20 wines, saying, “I can tell you ’20 is, I think, a great year that will stand the test of time. A very balanced, fine vintage with great freshness, silky tannins and good length in the mouth. Everything was climatically united, both for the red and the white. Currently, ’20 reminds me of ’05 and ’07.”
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.
White Rhône Blend
In the north, the white wines of Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, St-Joseph, and St-Péray are produced from blends of Marsanne and Roussanne. Generally Marsanne is the dominant partner and it lends colour, body and weight to the blend, as well as richly scented fruit. Roussanne, a notoriously low yielder and pernickety to grow, produces intensely aromatic wines which contribute bouquet, delicacy and finesse to the blend.
Until about 15 years ago there was very little interest in southern Rhône whites as it was widely believed that the combination of dull non aromatic grapes and the baking summer heat meant quality wine production was nigh impossible. Since then the quality has improved markedly through the introduction of cool fermentation techniques and increased plantings of northern Rhône white grapes.
The base of many blends is still Grenache Blanc, a widely planted variety producing fresh wines with apple-like fruits, often with hints of aniseed. Ugni Blanc is still found in many blends, as is Clairette though their general lack of character and definition has led to a reduction in plantings. The future for southern Rhône whites appears to lie with Roussanne, Marsanne, and, increasingly, Viognier.