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Why do we love this case?

It’s a region with a fancy name, but it’s a simple concept. Basically, take old vine GSM, add or subtract some other (ten or so) legally allowed varieties, and pick it from within a warm landscape covered with stones so big and round they’re known as ‘puddingstones’. The puddingstones reflect the sun and the grapes get riper than they would otherwise while the roots stay a little warmer - and happier, I guess. The results are big, heady, spicy reds that age a long time. But because they’re grenache-based they’re not as ridiculously tannic as other big reds - these are about intensity and texture. Get amongst them.

Each pack includes a bottle of each of the following Châteauneuf-du-Papes:

Red
GSM
Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Olivier & Lafont Ombres et Lumieres Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2016
Blackcurrant
Smoky
Spice
Full-bodied
Bright
Concentrated
Vinous
French Import

There’s something deliciously American barbecue about this, like sweet-smoky Worcestershire or soy - it’s full of heady, spicy aromas of umami-driven sweet black fruits. The palate is a bundle of chalky tannins all rolled up in those silky black fruits, with lovely acid drive and a minerality that shines pure. From Baptiste Olivier and Gérard Lafont, this is a special cuvée named after the way the light plays off the special part of the northern section of Châteauneuf-du-Pape this wine was born in, near the Rayas vineyards. This seven year-old producer employs 70+ year old vines in this unique Châteauneuf and the match of modernity with history works very well indeed.

Red
GSM
Rhone Valley

Olivier & Lafont Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2016
Licorice
Raspberry
Sour Cherry
Full-bodied
Bright
Concentrated
Vinous
French Import

This is some super concentrated, sweet-sour raspberry and licorice juice here. As impressive in the glass as the bottle is. It’s got rippling, cheek-ripping tannins too, that ride like sumptuous sandpaper down the tongue. So yes, it needs some time, but it’s still effing delicious, and with much future promise.

Red
GSM
Rhone Valley

Crous St Martin Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2016
Cherry
Mulberry
Thyme
Full-bodied
Bright
Bold
Robert Parker
16/20 Jancis Robinson

This is a gorgeous example of the region and how concentrated, balanced and rich it can be all at once. It smells immediately like slow-cooked bolognese meets picking day at the berry farm. 80% grenache, with the balance split between syrah and mourvedre, it evolves quickly in the glass and the mouth, with cherry, mulberry and thyme shining through. It’s silky and polished, creamy and ripe. Will absolutely go a decade, but why wait?

Red
GSM
Rhone Valley

Raymond Usseglio & Fils Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2016
Black Cherry
Blackberry
Spice
Full-bodied
Bright
Concentrated
Jeb Dunnuck
Robert Parker

If you haven’t cottoned on yet, 2016 was pretty awesome in the Southern Rhône. Wine Spectator even gave it 99 out of 100 points, stating that “this truly rare vintage is a new benchmark.” Bring a cult biodynamic Châteauneuf-du-Pape maker like Stéphane Usseglio (heir to the Raymond Usseglio empire, and head winemaker) into the equation, and the odds are stacked, well and truly in your favour. Add some old vines and respectful making, and the result is a wine that scores don’t do justice. There’s lots of black and red fruit, a molasses-driven depth, hefty velvet tannins, layers of spice and the signature chinotto note of the Usseglio terroir. But it’s how it makes you feel - that x-factor that’s harder to pinpoint - that wins the day for this wine. Like it’s even older vine sibling, there’s a levity to the wine that goes beyond its depth and weight. Above, more accurately, I guess. It’s like it’s being pulled backwards and forwards all at once, and the result is length, wonderful length. Nothing out of place, nothing uncharacteristic. Just long, long goodness.

Red
GSM
Rhone Valley

Patrick Lesec Galets Blonds Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2016
Leather
Mushroom
Redcurrant
Full-bodied
Chalky
Concentrated
(93-95) Robert Parker
French Import

Patrick Lesec is a jovial, Robin Williams-esque kind of man, with a similar comedic twinkle in his eye. This must translate something unique into his wines, because they’re pretty special. From 75+ year old vines, this wine’s incredible. 80% grenache, with 10% each of syrah and mourvedre. Powerful, full-bodied, complex - loads of red fruit, ripe and spicy, but plenty of earthy, almost-feral notes that make this a few notches above the norm. And it ain’t easy eking a 95 out of ol’ mate Parker.

Red
GSM
Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Château Sixtine Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2016
Blackcurrant
Licorice
Meaty
Full-bodied
Round
Bold
Jeb Dunnuck
Concours General Agricole de Paris 2018
Concours des Vins d'Orange 2018
17.5/20 Richard Hemming MW - jancisrobinson.com

Who cares what the critics say, when Head Mofo Buyer, John, a fairly unflappable sort, says of this wine: “hands down one of the best wines I’ve bought - simply stunning.” And then he put it on the table. As Richard Hemming (of jancisrobinson.com) says, it’s absolutely drinkable early. Plush and silky, but dark and there’s something a little devious about it, like a very naughty, good-looking child. You know the one, who’d be skipping school and charming the teachers and the parents into getting away with it, even though they knew full well what was going on. But it’s equally complex, meaty and brooding. Years will unfold the layers and wisdom that sets this wine on its comfortable pedestal.

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