Geoff Kelly Wine Reviews
Independent reviews of some local and imported wines available in New Zealand, including earlier vintages.


Geoff Kelly,  MSc Hons

Conclusions from the Tasting:
For the district as a whole in 1999,  Robert Parker’s views at the time were absolutely prescient:  This excellent vintage will be simply over shadowed ... [ by 1998,  2000, 2001 ] ... Fine ripeness was achieved in all varietals, with mourvedre and syrah performing better in 1999 than in 1998 ... Elegance and balance are the operative words to describe the Southern Rhone's 1999s, a vintage that will get better press as it evolves.

This Library Tasting was one of a two-part Chateauneuf-du-Pape Celebration presented in the boardroom of Villa Maria headquarters winery at Mangere,  Auckland.  It followed on from a very similar 1999 Southern Rhone tasting I offered 28 March 2019,  in Wellington.  A full introduction to the 1999 Gigondas and Chateauneuf-du-Pape wines is included with the write-up published for that tasting,  available here.  The Wellington and  Auckland tastings were nearly identical as to the wine-list,  except that to match the 2007s in Auckland (which included a South Australian GSM blend) I substituted 1998 Penfolds Shiraz / Grenache / Mourvedre Bin 138 for the 1999 Domaine du Cayron Gigondas.  Also,  for the two Auckland tastings,   I slightly revised the Southern Rhone Valley vintage chart (for the last '40' years) used in Wellington,  adding a couple of personal comments.  It is included in the 2007 report,  available here,  scroll down.  

Comparing the Auckland and Wellington tastings for a moment,  both sets of 1999 wines were equally enjoyed.  But from the presenter's point of view,  I was puzzled by the considerable differences in the way the 1999s opened up,  six months apart.  On the one hand that might be observer inconsistency … but I would prefer to think the wines did in fact show differently.  There is not only the closed-with-cork factor,  but also that,  20 years ago,  a measure of brett was frequent in Southern Rhone Valley wines.  For any wine with even trace brett,  20 years later,  no two bottles are likely to be the same.

For the two Auckland Library Tastings,  the contrast between the 2007 wines on the Tuesday night,  and the 1999s on the Thursday,  was dramatic.  Compared with the 2007s,  the 1999 wines stood out for their florality,  fragrance,  suppleness and charm;  qualities which the hotter-year,  higher alcohol 2007s (and many 1998s) simply cannot match.  No less than five of the 1999 wines merit gold medal ranking (18.5 = 92.5),  in my view,  vs two of the 2007s.  Interestingly,  neither of the top two 2007s were in fact Chateauneuf-du-Pape sensu stricto,  but satellite villages where ‘size’ (in the wine) is not quite so valued.  

It is high time the English-speaking wine-world rejected this American-led view of wine,  that bigger,  riper,  higher-horsepower wines are better.  With food,  the notion is simply a nonsense.  Quality in red wine is about beauty and elegance,  and again suppleness,  florality,  and charm:  what used to (appropriately) be called feminine virtues in wine,  before the English-speaking wine-world became deranged through political correctness.  It is hard to achieve these qualities in table-wine ripened to 15 degrees of alcohol,  and even higher levels in some cases now.

For the two Auckland tastings,  two thirds of the tasters attended both tastings. There was almost total agreement that in the second tasting,  the 1999s,  the wines were more enjoyable,  and had more to say,  compared with the supposedly ‘famous’ 2007s.  We have to note that currently,  this ‘fame’ (of a given vintage in France) is initiated and set largely by American wine-writers.  At the time of evaluating wines for cellar purchase,  for New Zealanders with our temperate-climate take on wine-quality,  it is imperative to always seek the sometimes countervailing views of European wine-writers.  For Southern Rhone Valley wines,  the message that emerges from both tastings is simply that for pleasure at table,  the lower alcohol and more fragrant / supple wines of the less ‘famous’ years,  and the wines from less well known districts in the Southern Rhone Valley,  can be infinitely more palatable,  and more rewarding with food.  Particularly does this apply to the wines of Gigondas – for me,  the great unsung address in the Southern Rhone Valley.  

Sometimes this approach also means selecting the basic Chateauneuf-du-Pape,  where both alcohol and new oak exposure may be lower,  rather than prestige labels,  Vieilles Vignes,  and such-like.  And,  more often than not,  such wines are cheaper as well –  a dilemma for the wine-snob.  There are exceptions of course,  notably those honourable domaines where only the one grand vinCellaring Cotes du Rhone – Guigal & Charvin 1983 – 2016.

Cepage:  the Main Grapes:
A slightly revised review of the main grapes in red Southern Rhone Valley wines is included in the accompanying report on the 2007 Chateauneufs,  here,  scroll down.

The Invitation:
The second tasting will be in dramatic contrast to the big,  bold wines of 2007,  in the first tasting.  1999 is an interesting year in France,  a year of moderation after the hot-year and often tanniny wines of 1998.  In Burgundy 1999 is rated 92 – juicy, rich and vibrant – by Wine Spectator,  whereas in the Northern Rhone Valley their rating is 96 – silky vintage with stunning quality for Cote-Rotie.  In the Southern Rhone Valley however,  their conclusion is a little less than Burgundy,  90 – Syrah- and Mourvedre-based wines offer lovely balance and length; Grenache-based wines less successful.  My hope is the wines will show the lovely mellow harmony of full maturity.  And as in the 2007 tasting,  there is the added interest of an Australian version of these Southern Rhone blends,  too – not quite perfectly matching,  a 1998.  

For all those who think the 1998s in the Southern Rhone Valley (Wine Spectator,  97) are a bit big and ripe,  or tanniny,  then the lighter,  more supple 1999s should have much appeal.  The only caveat to mention is,  at that time,  a measure of brett was frequent in many of the wines of these districts,  so if you are hypersensitive to the savoury,  fragrant qualities of even a measured brett component,  this tasting might not be for you.  Happily,  many people find a little brett part of the wonderfully food-friendly appeal of Southern Rhone Valley wines.   

There is a certain symmetry in checking out the 1999s at their 20-year point … an age when many people think Chateauneuf-du-Pape wines are fully mature … or even too old (by some).  But we can add to that symmetry by having nearly half the tasting from the second great appellation of the Southern Rhone Valley,  Gigondas,  to match the six wines from Chateauneuf-du-Pape.  For most Gigondas wines,  20 years should be more clearly full maturity.  In effect this will mean that the red (and some black) berry characters and hints of aromatic garrigue complexity of youth will now be fully melded into complex,  savoury,  mouth-watering wines with some mellow autumnal hints,  wines crying out for protein-rich meals.  In an earlier presentation of much the same tasting in Wellington,  some tasters found it of interest to see if the Gigondas wines could be separated from the Chateauneufs.

Broadbent,  Michael  2002:  Michael Broadbent’s Vintage Wine.  Harcourt,  560 p.  
Broadbent,  Michael  2003:   Michael Broadbent’s Wine Vintages.  Mitchell Beazley,  223 p.  
Karis,  Harry  2009:  The Chateauneuf-du-Pape Wine Book.  Kavino,  488 p.
Parker,  Robert  1997:  Wines of the Rhone Valley.  Simon & Schuster,  685 p.
Parker,  Robert  2002:  Parker's Wine Buyers Guide Sixth Edition.  Simon & Schuster,  1,648 p.
www.jancisrobinson.com  =  Jancis Robinson MW and Julia Harding MW,  subscription needed for reviews
www.robertparker.com  =  Robert Parker and Jeb Dunnuck,  vintage chart,  subscription needed for reviews
www.winespectator.com  =  vintage chart,  subscription needed for reviews
ww.drinkrhone.com  =  John Livingstone-Learmonth,  J.L-L below,  subscription needed for reviews

Again,  I particularly thank Ian Clark for facilitating,  and Sir George Fistonich for authorising,  the use of the delightful Boardroom at Villa Maria headquarters,  for these two Library Tastings.  Extensive use has been made of the vast information resource in John Livingstone-Learmonth's website,  as above,  plus Jancis Robinson.  Reviews from the Robert Parker website mainly,  and Wine Spectator,  are also included,  to achieve pan-Atlantic judging balance.

The first ‘price’ shown in the review is the current wine-searcher value.  Note these are often an indication only,  since 1999 is considered unrealistically ‘old’ (by them),  for Gigondas particularly … but for both.  Bizarre.  The absence of comment from Jancis Robinson reflects the fact that she and her fellow tasters rather overlooked the Southern Rhone Valley,  till this century.  Livingstone-Learmonth therefore provides the essential English viewpoint.  Where known,  the original purchase price is in the text.

1999  Domaine La Bouissiere Gigondas
1999  Domaine La Bouissiere Gigondas La Font du Tonin
1999  Domaine Charvin Chateauneuf-du-Pape Non Filtré
1999  Clos des Papes Chateauneuf-du-Pape
1999  Domaine de la Janasse Chateauneuf-du-Pape Chaupin
1999  Domaine de la Mordorée Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée de la Reine des Bois
  1999  Domaine du Pegau Chateauneuf-du-Pape
1998  Penfolds Shiraz / Grenache / Mourvedre Bin 138 Old Vine
1999  Ch de Saint Cosme Gigondas
1999  Domaine Santa Duc Gigondas
1999  Domaine Santa Duc Gigondas Prestige des Hautes Garrigues
1999  Domaine Le Vieux Donjon Chateauneuf-du-Pape

This set of 1999 Gigondas and Chateauneuf-du-Pape wines was simply a delight – to look at,  to smell,  and to taste.  Wines 1 – 6 the front row,  7 – 12 behind.  Of the two lightest wines in appearance,  wine 4 the Clos des Papes Chateauneuf-du-Pape,  and wine 6 the Domaine Charvin Chateauneuf-du-Pape,  the latter was indeed one of the lightest wines in the set,  seemingly less ripe than the others.  Wine 9,  the Janasse Chaupin,  is the 100% grenache wine,  yet it was right in the middle for depth of colour.  It added greatly to understanding the other wines,  showing only the pure nearly pinot-like aromas and flavours of the variety … then simplifying a little to the tail.  In contrast,  the wines with syrah and mourvedre in general had longer flavours.  Wine 9,  the Penfolds Bin 138 and the darkest colour,  still fitted in admirably,  on both bouquet and early palate,  largely due to its careful oaking.  Though one of the lighter wines,  the top wine of the night for many tasters was wine 10,  the 1999 Saint Cosme Gigondas,  illustrating to perfection in its florality and aromatics how attractive grenache-led wines can be when matured in big old wood only.  The Santa Duc Gigondas at position 11 was not much deeper,  and showed similar grape-derived complexity,  without new oak.  Wine 8 the Bouissiere Gigondas Le Font du Tonin was the second-deepest wine,  and the second-favourite on the night,  its bouquet and palate showing that with care,  some new oak can be attractively employed in the elevation of these Southern Rhone Valley wine-styles.  One came away from tasting these wines with the conviction that any of them would be just delightful with a meal.

Gigondas,  Southern Rhone Valley,  France:  14%;  $83   [ cork 46mm,  ullage 13mm;  original price c.$35;  Gr c.65%,  Sy c.15,  Mv c.15,  some Ci;  hand-harvested,  average yield 3.75 t/ha = 1.5 t/ac;  cuvaison in s/s,  some whole-bunches;  elevation c. 12 months,  more than 50% of the wine in concrete vat and large wood,  less than half in 1 – 4 year barriques;  usually no fining or filtering;  tending organic wine;  no Valbelle in 1999;  J. L-L,  2011:  There is a gentle curve of red fruit on the bouquet, which has a grainy depth; that brings in more black fruit beyond, which has good heart, carries licorice with it. Salty, fine fruit lead to the palate – this is fresh, runs straight and true, the freshness is sparkling. It ends on an accomplished length, thanks to a really tasty herbal-floral flourish. The tannins are a bit gritty still. To 2025. [ Earlier comment:  Good richness within ], ****(*);  R. Parker,  2000:  ([1999 is] 70% Grenache, 25% Syrah, and 5% Cinsault) ... sweet aromas of blackberry fruit, roasted meats, and cassis. Chewy, powerful, full-bodied, superbly concentrated, pure, and well-balanced ... to 2014,  90 – 92;  www.saintcosme.com ]
Ruby and garnet,  some velvet,  the third lightest.  This bouquet has astonishing freshness and near-florality,  the syrah seeming more prominent than its percentage in the cepage would suggest,  plus lovely garrigue aromatics.  Palate is superb,  beautiful berry definition and freshness,  the wine not as rich as some of the Chateauneufs,  but the flavour still long,  any oak understated.  This would be a near-perfect Southern Rhone red with food,  its palatability enhanced by the low (nowadays) alcohol.  Tasters agreed,  seven first places,  one second,  clearly the most favoured wine.  Fully mature now,  but will be attractive for another 10 years.  An infinitely desirable wine.  GK 10/19

Gigondas,  Southern Rhone Valley,  France:  14%;  $45   [ cork 44mm,  ullage 26mm;  original price c.$35;  Gr c.70% ,  Sy c.25, Mv c.5,  average vine age in 40s;  Gr tending whole-bunch but Sy destemmed,  extended cuvaison to 40 days;  elevation usually more than 50% in 600-litre barrels some new,  and up to 6 years age,  balance concrete vat;  not fined or filtered;  1,500 – 2,500 x 9-litre cases;  J. L-L, 2002:  Quite tight, cherry fruited nose with signs of oak in with its local garrigue, herbal notes. Good chewy texture on the palate, a clean-cut wine which is tasty, has cut and freshness. The North-West exposure and the vintage combine to give it that freshness, very vintage typical. Licorice features on the finish. To 2015, ***;  R.  Parker,  2001:  a sweet, pure nose of blueberries and cassis, surprisingly tart acidity, a strong underpinning of minerals, ripe tannin, and a medium-bodied, straightforward finish. Although excellent, it is not as impressive as I had hoped it would be. Anticipated maturity: now-2011, 88 [ earlier,  to 2015,  and 90 - 92 ];  www.labouissiere.com ]
Ruby,  garnet and velvet,  one of the freshest colours,  above midway in depth.  This is yet another exquisite bouquet,  clearly showing garrigue florals and aromatics on fragrant slightly spicy red fruits,  fresher than the standard Santa Duc,  closer to the Saint Cosme.  In mouth the wine is utterly charming,  again lighter and fresher than the Santa Duc,  the syrah adding freshness and a hint of pepper,  remarkable in a southern Rhone wine.  At the point of sequencing the freshly opened wines,  I thought this wine summed up everything needed to characterise good Southern Rhone Valley red wine,  so I placed it as #1 in the sequence,  as the sighter.  But,  as is almost always the case,  it is hard for wine #1 to win through to a high placing,  so my ranking does not reflect the group view,  no votes for any attribute.  Again,  this would be wonderful with food.  Cellar for 5 – 10 years.  GK 10/19

Gigondas,  Southern Rhone Valley,  France:  14.5%;  $45   [ cork 49mm,  ullage 10mm;  original price c.$35;  Gr 75%,  Syrah c.15, Mv c.5,  Ci c.5,  hand-harvested;  not destemmed then,  long cuvaison to 35 days;  elevation then mostly in large old wood,  some in barriques,  20% in concrete vats,  for 18 months;  not filtered;  production c. 3,300 x 9-litre cases;  now labelled Gigondas Aux Lieux-Dits;  J. L-L,  2001:  The bouquet is broad, meaty, has air of pebble dust, light pepper, animal hints – it is quite potent. This is interesting wine with the character to become complex, it is live, works well, has a bonny future. The attack is alert, the red stone fruits run well and integrate with the tannins, and there is a hint of pepper. The ending is good and fresh, which is a hallmark of the vintage, still in the shadow of 1998. Good wine. To 2020,  ****(*);  J. Dunnuck @ R. Parker,  2016:  The 1999 Gigondas is another classic wine from this estate and offers fully mature notes of cedar, spice box and mature fruit in a medium to full-bodied, supple and integrated package. Classic, mature, ready to go and balanced ..., 89;  R. Parker,  2001:  ... elegant mineral and cherry flavors intertwined with licorice notes. An austere finish kept my score low, but this medium-bodied Gigondas possesses excellent purity, loads of fruit, and a layered texture. To 2011, 89;  www.santaduc.fr ]
Garnet and ruby,  some velvet,  below midway in depth.  Again,  the bouquet on this wine is wonderful,  combining floral notes with garrigue aromatics and portobello mushroom savoury depths,  all in grenache-led red fruits well browning now.  This wine makes you hungry,  just smelling it.  Palate is nearly burgundian in style but drier,  showing the beautifully integrated flavours of a wine at the pinnacle of maturity,  not quite as rich as the Saint Cosme,  and a little drier – yet another wine just crying out for food.  Fully mature now,  will hold at least five years.  In the presentation of less- and more-oaked versions of the same base wine,  this less-oaked Santa Duc was the hands-down winner.  Tasters liked this wine:  three first placings,  and four second.  GK 10/19

Chateauneuf-du-Pape,  Southern Rhone Valley,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $128   [ cork 45mm,  ullage 20mm;  original price c.$60;  Gr 75%,  Sy 10,  Mv 10,  balance minor varieties,  75% of the vines more than 80 years old;  18 – 25 days cuvaison,  50% destemming (particularly the Mv),  cuvaison to 25 days;  elevation 18 –  24 months in large old wood;  not filtered in 1999;  production c.4,000 x 9-litre cases;  moreso even than Domaine Charvin and Clos des Papes,  each with their ‘Cotes du Rhone’ (or equivalent) junior wines,  Vieux Donjon makes  only one red Chateauneuf,  one white.  As with the other two,  this means the buyer is getting the essence of the place;  J. L-L,  2008: the bouquet is moving into a downhome, rather funky stage, with red fruits, overt pepper present, tea aromas also. It is wide, mostly clear for now. The palate red fruit has shoulders, is pretty robust and meaty. It ends on a pepper, grainy, pine-resin note. The pepper and a cocoa effect run through the fruit, showing some of the vintage acidity. The fruit persists well, and the wine is getting there now. “It is a little rustic, or animal this year; it was closed for a long time, but since early 2007 it started to open up,” – Claire Michel, winemaker. To 2024, ****(*);  R. Parker, 2000:  ... backward, concentrated, dense. It is slightly massive, with lots of up-front fruit. It is a serious, full-bodied effort with notes of dried herbs, smoke, licorice, black cherry liqueur, and cassis, multiple layers on the mid-palate, and that sweet, rich, authoritative finish that comes from old vines as well as low yields. Anticipated maturity: 2003-2015, 90 - 92;  the website is just a holding page;  www.levieuxdonjon.fr ]
Garnet and ruby,  some velvet,  below midway in depth.  Bouquet is soft,  pure and gentle,  not quite as much of any character as the Saint Cosme,  yet fresh and appealing,  lightly cinnamon,  the grenache speaking.  Palate is complex,  integrated,  reflecting grenache-led Southern Rhone red fruits browning now,  no new oak yet beautiful tannin structure,  more mature than the Saint Cosme,  and richer.  Again,  the food-friendlyness of this wine is greatly enhanced by its 13.5%  alcohol.  Tasters were less enthused by this wine that I was,  one first place,  one second.  The  wine is fully mature,  but will hold for 10 years or so.  GK 10/19

Gigondas,  Southern Rhone Valley,  France:  14.5%;  $60   [ cork 44mm,  ullage 22mm;  original price c.$55;   Cepage varies year to year,  but Gr dominant,  more Mv than the standard wine up to 25% and old-vine,  dating to 1930s,  the balance Sy;  actual cepage in 1999 Gr 70%,  Mv 30;  up to 45% of the crop destemmed,  extended cuvaisons to 42 days;  12 – 13 months in barrique-sized oak some new,  the balance to 6 years,  then 5 months in s/s vat;  not fined or filtered;  375 – 500 x 9-litre cases (so fairly rare);  J. L-L,  2002:  ... there are animal, Mourvedre influences on the nose, but the fruit is clear, clear cherry. The palate is attractive, true and long. It offers good red cherry fruit, and this reflects a new, cleaner style than previously, not one that is overdone. The finish is dry from its oak, but it has enough guts for the oak. Esp good around 2007. To 2017,  ****;  R. Parker,  2000:  ... displays abundant tannin and muscle in its formidably-endowed, backward personality. Dense and powerful, with copious quantities of blackberries, cassis, minerals, and toasty new oak, this 1999 is clearly a vin de garde. To 2017, 91 - 93.  The following year he was not quite so impressed,  [ paraphrased ]:  full-bodied,  good definition,  vague notes of wood,  to 2012, 89;  www.labouissiere.com ]
Ruby,  garnet and velvet,  the second-deepest wine.  Bouquet shows stunning purity,  in a  fragrant,  mellow,  lightly aromatic southern Rhone wine style,  with cedary complexity.  Though fractionally less fragrant than its un-oaked sibling,  this wine is an exception to my generalisations,  being a grenache-led wine not impaired by new oak.  Palate is saturated with flavour,  tasting much fresher than age and colour would suggest,  the high mourvedre darker fruits adding to the unusually good tannin structure.  This was the second-favourite wine on the night,  three first places,  six second.  It is fully mature,  but with the high mourvedre,  will hold easily – for 10-plus years.  GK 10/19

Chateauneuf-du-Pape,  Southern Rhone Valley,  France:  14.5%;  $65   [ cork 49mm,  ullage 12mm;  original price c.$65;  Gr 100% (NB),  most of it >60 years age,  80% destemmed;  cuvaison up to 28 days,  then elevation c.12 months c. two-thirds in large wood,  one third in puncheons,  20% + new;  not filtered;  production this label c. 1,050 x 9-litre cases;  R. Parker,  2000:  ... exhibits an opaque ruby/purple color in addition to a sweet nose of kirsch, black raspberries, smoke, and spice. It is full-bodied, with outstanding intensity, considerable depth for a 1999, and a large, glycerin-imbued, well-balanced finish with light to moderate tannin. This is a brilliant effort from one of the Rhone's most accomplished young winemakers.  To 2016, 90 – 92;  J. Dunnuck@ R. Parker,  2014:  ... a fresh, lively feel with plenty of violets, mint and floral qualities to go with exotic spices, fruit cake and mature fruit. Medium to full-bodied on the palate, it’s drinking spectacularly, but will continue to evolve gracefully ..., 93;  www.lajanasse.com ]
Garnet and ruby,  some velvet,  midway in depth.  This wine is nearly a contradiction to what one imagines,  100% grenache which is really fragrant,  nearly floral in a pink hedge-roses way,  with the bouquet showing exactly the red fruits (raspberry in youth) of grenache,  though browning now.  It shows that with great care,  grenache can on occasion benefit from oak,  even new oak,  but here it is nearly invisible,  just the lightest cedar touch,  with gentle tannins.  It is wonderful to have a straight grenache in any Southern Rhone tasting,  since it highlights how the darker syrah and mourvedre contribute to perceived complexity in other wines.  Here the mono-cepage is not really noticeable until the finish,  where the wine simplifies a little,  like the similar Chapoutier Chateauneufs.  An interesting wine at full maturity,  which appealed to tasters,  two top places,  three second.  Cellar 5 – 15 years more.  GK 10/19

Barossa Valley,  South Australia,  Australia:  14%;  $53   [ cork 46mm,  ullage 20mm;  original price c.$24;  cepage varies from year to year,  1998 being shiraz / grenache / mourvedre,  no  ratio available but along lines 50/30/20,   the vines 40 – 100 years age;  no winemaking detail,  elevation 16 months in older American hogsheads six years or more of age.  The winery notes say "to enhance the highly concentrated fruit flavours without introducing any obvious oak characters."  Halliday,  2011:  … a ripe, complex mix of savoury/spicy/berry aromas foreshadow a palate which first shows the mint latent in the bouquet allied with that special fruit sweetness which grenache bestows, and which is still evident through the considerable tannins on the finish, 91;  Wine Spectator,  2001: Rich flavors of dark berry and cherry are balanced against a wiry backbone of fine tannins and acidity in this outstanding Shiraz, gaining momentum on the finish. Impressive for its intensity and elegance. Drink now through 2010. 82,489 cases made, 90;  www.penfolds.com ]
Ruby,  garnet and velvet,  much the reddest,  freshest and deepest wine in the set.  The  Australian interloper in the Pt 2 1999 tasting was a good deal more subtle than the Melton in the 2007s.  Here the florality on bouquet is truly flowering mint Prostanthera,  and there is no suggestion of euc:  it almost passes as ‘garrigue’ character.  Even so,  20 of the 21 tasters unerringly identified the wine (in the blind tasting) as Australian – a remarkable result.  Considering 1998 was a ripe and warm year in the Barossa Valley,  the quality and freshness of the shiraz here is remarkable:  the bouquet nearly shows syrah florals.  Palate initially is juicy,  plump but not heavy,  good berryfruit,  but then the Australian obsession with technological interference (in wine) comes in,  with shrill added acid to the tail.  Even so,  it fitted in beautifully,  due to the understated oaking,  which is so subtle for Penfolds.  Two top places.  Cellar 10 – 20 years more.  GK 10/19

Chateauneuf-du-Pape,  Southern Rhone Valley,  France:  14%;  $129   [ cork 50mm,  ullage 12mm;  original price c.$75;  cepage at the time was more Gr 65%,  Mv 20,  Sy 10,  others 5;  all cropped very low c.2.6 t/ha = fractionally over 1 t/ac;  all destemmed,  21 days cuvaison;  elevation c.12 months in large foudres,  no new oak;  not fined or filtered;  like Domaine Charvin,  remarkable for making just the one cuvée of (red) Chateauneuf,  annual production c.7,000 x 9-litre cases;  J. L-L,  2015:  ... an open and wide display of red fruit with clove, mocha touches, licorice. It’s on the cusp between smily fruit and secondary spices. The palate holds entertaining red stone fruit with fine grain late moments, red berries; it has very joli airborne qualities. There are fresh, winning rays of sunshine in the glass, a wine that enhances the day. There is latent game and graininess in it, and a savoury, strawberry jam presence on the finish. It very digestible, super enhancing wine. Vincent Avril comments:  "a year of Mourvèdre for us”,  to 2030;  ****(*);  J. Dunnuck @ R. Parker,  2015:  A solid step up over the '98, the Clos des Papes 1999 Chateauneuf du Pape (one of Paul-Vincent's favorites) offers a more youthful color to go with Burgundian notes of spice, dried flowers, black cherries and licorice. More fresh and lively, with medium to full-bodied richness, it has a youthful feel and has another decade of longevity, 94;  www.clos-des-papes.fr ]
Garnet and ruby,  the second to lightest wine.  Bouquet is fragrant in an old-fashioned way,  an attractive savoury venison casserole and nutmeg note bespeaking a little brett,  on mainly red fruits and older oak.  As so often with Clos des Papes,  the flavour is soft and gentle,  the fruit sweet all the way through,  though the finish is dry.  Wonderful food wine,  so supple:  little wonder that Vincent Avril is quoted as looking to Burgundy,  for his inspiration as to wine style.  Tasters liked this wine,  two first places,  three second,  but two marked it down to least place,  for the trace brett.  This wine illustrated the proprietor's ‘no new oak in the grand vin’ policy well,  it fitting in with the less-oaked Gigondas wines beautifully.  Would that more Chateauneufs followed this style.  Fully mature,  but will hold for several years.  GK 10/19

Chateauneuf-du-Pape,  Southern Rhone Valley,  France:  14.5%;  $135   [ cork 48mm,  ullage 14mm;  original price c.$70;  Gr 80%,  Mv 10,  Va 5,  balance Sy,  Ci,  counoise,  some of the grenache 90 years old,  some 100+;  viticulture now organic;  this wine in the later ‘90s contrasted with traditional practice in Chateauneuf du Pape,  being completely destemmed,  then c.50% of the wine aged in new small oak for 9 months or more,  the balance in s/s,  with a total elevation then of 24 months;  filtered to bottle;  production varies,  but c.1,250 x 9-litre cases;  since the turn of the century the new oak has been reduced markedly;  R. Parker,  2001:  A candidate for wine of the vintage ... amazing concentration of fruit extract (blackberries and cherries) intermixed with graphite and creme de cassis. Spectacularly concentrated, full-bodied, extremely pure, well-delineated, and opulent, this superb wine is forward and accessible. To 2018, 94;  J. Dunnuck @ R. Parker,  2014:  Domaine de la Mordoree is a reference point estate for Chateauneuf du Pape ... plenty of character in its medium to full-bodied, rich and nicely concentrated personality. Giving up plenty of chocolaty dark fruits, spice-box and cured meat-like qualities ... to 2022, 92;  www.domaine-mordoree.com ]
Garnet and ruby,  some velvet,  just above midway in depth.  There were reminders of the 2007s in this wine,  a hint of jam-tart rather than fresh jam,  which I attribute to too much new oak.  Below is good fruit browning now.  Flavours in mouth are fresher than the bouquet,  the oak making the wine seem not as rich as some,  the finish dry.  This 1999 wine does not quite achieve the length and balance I recall in the 1998.  One second place.  Fully mature,  attractive,  but the finish will dry sooner than some other wines,  on the oak.  GK 10/19

Chateauneuf-du-Pape,  Southern Rhone Valley,  New Zealand:  14%;  $119   [ cork 51mm,  ullage 17mm;  original price c.$60;  indicative cepage Gr 82%,  Sy 5%,  Mv c.5,  Va 4,  Co 4,  viticulture now ‘organic’ but not certified,  average age >50 years;  whole bunches lightly crushed;  elevation up to 18 months sometimes 21 months in concrete,  some reports mention some big old wood,  but no confirmation and certainly no new oak;  the magical thing about Domaine Charvin (apart from no new oak) is,  there are no luxury cuvées,  the standard wine is ‘it’,  and affordable;  not filtered;  c. 2,500 x 9-litre cases;  Parker  (1997) comments for Domaine Charvin in general:  Charvin … fashions Chateauneuf du Pape that comes closest to the style of Rayas.  There is … a wonderfully sweet,  deep,  concentrated mid-palate,  and layers of flavour that unfold on the palate.  Great burgundy should possess a similar texture and purity,  but it rarely does;  J. L-L,  2012:  Wow! Oiliness, rosemary, prune, cigar box aroma that is highly inviting, has an air of brioche, mandarin zest, cocoa, and a drift of flowers such as iris. The palate has the rich envelope of mature Chateauneuf-du-Pape, seasoned with herbs, licorice. This is true mature Grenache, marked by a plum sweet fruit line all through it. It can be drunk with thyme flavours in the dishes – its surrounding terrain. Almost OK to drink solo – it is a contemplation wine. It has a sweet date, spiced goodbye.  To 2026, ****(*);  Laurent Charvin’s appraisal of the wine to J.L-L:  “This is delicate Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and would actually be good with Christmas turkey, and certain cheeses – goat cheese with rosemary. I like it a lot because it is so very delicate. 1999 was considered hard, not very balanced at the end. It is still fresh, has very sweet herbs and delicacy, with just a little animal starting. The nose is very complex, not weighty. It was a no worry vintage.”  J. Dunnuck @ R. Parker,  2014:  More Burgundian in style, the 1999 Chateauneuf du Pape is a medium to full-bodied, pure and elegant effort that possesses notions of damp earth, truffle and pepper to go with a core of black cherry and darker berry fruit. At full maturity, it will continue to evolve gracefully over the coming decade, yet I’d aim for drinking bottles over the coming couple of years. To 2017, 92;  there is no actual website,  the name is ‘parked’;  some info at www.chateauneuf.dk/en/cdpen34.htm;  www.domaine-charvin.com ]
Ruby and garnet,  the lightest wine.  Bouquet here is quite different from the other 11 wines.  It is light,  floral and fragrant in one sense,  but also leafy in an aromatic garrigue way,  on cool red fruits.  Palate confirms the leafy thought,  with fair fruit and length of fruit flavour for a medium-weight-only wine,  but a clear stalky thread from beginning to end.  Six tasters correctly identified this as the wine with no oak at all.  One taster particularly liked the fresh,  less ripe,  fragrant character of this wine,  thus one second place.  Others found the wine simple,  missing the complexity that ageing in foudre brings.  In my experience with Domaine Chauvin,  in the pursuit of delicacy,  the wine too often retains under-ripe aroma and flavour notes.  The wine is fully mature:  it will fade gracefully for some years to come.  GK 10/19

Gigondas,  Southern Rhone Valley,  France:  15%;  $56   [ cork 50mm,  ullage 15mm;  original price c.$54;  Gr 80%,  Mv 15,  balance Sy and Ci,  grenache more than 50 years age,  hand-harvested at typically c.3.7 t/ha = 1.5 t/ac,  but some years as low as 2 t/ha = 0.8 t/ac;  up to 8 weeks cuvaison,  with stems;  at the time c.40% of Hautes Garrigues spent 12 – 20 months in small oak some new,  balance older large wood;  c.1,150 x 9-litre cases made;  now labelled Les Hautes Garrigues;  J. L-L,  2001: ... the bouquet is meaty with oak present in the brew; airs of stone fruits, prunes, dried fruits and grilled nuts ... a potent kick-off – there is a lot of still forming chew, roasted content. It is very solid, the soaked fruits weight the finish and render it rather demanding. As a “special” wine, its power is central to its being, and I find that a bit too much for me. From 2006-07. The longer the wait the better – this isn’t a wine that is easy to drink young. I prefer the Tradition 1999 by some way. To 2020, ***(*);  R. Parker,  2001:  The stunning 1999 Gigondas Prestige des Hautes Garrigues spent 23 months in barriques, of which 40% was new. Made from 80% Grenache and 20% Mourvedre that achieved 15.5% natural alcohol, it boasts ... immense body, a layered texture, and pure cassis, kirsch, and blackberry flavors along with a subtle note of wood. The finish lasts for 30-35 seconds. There are 1,500 cases of this 1999, which appears to be the wine of the vintage. To 2016, 92;  www.santaduc.fr ]
Garnet and ruby,  the third deepest wine.  This was the other wine to remind of the 2007s,  showing baked jam-tart fruit rather than fresh raspberry,  and nearly a varnishy hint from too much oak exposure,  but all pure.  Palate is quite rich but very dry,  the oak handling strangling the wine.  The contrast with the fresh,  fragrant and supple straight Santa Duc Gigondas from the same year could not be more dramatic:  a vivid example of how grenache-led wines can be sabotaged by new oak.  Tasters seemed to agree at the blind / no discussion stage:  nine least  places.  The wine is quite rich,  and though fully mature,  will cellar for another 10 years,  in its drying style.  GK 10/19

Chateauneuf-du-Pape,  Southern Rhone Valley,  France:  13.5%;  $129   [ cork 44mm,  ullage 20mm;  original price c.$65;  Gr 80 – 85%,  Sy 9,  Mv 6 and trace Ci,  Co;  whole bunches retained;  c.90% of the wine raised in foudre,  10% in older barrels,  for 18 – 24 months depending on vintage;  low sulphurs,  not fined or filtered – accordingly Pegau more than some Chateauneufs has a reputation for brett,  but note the wine-searcher current value does not penalise it for that ... a moral there for the technocrats;  production c.6,000 x 9-litre cases;  J. Dunnuck @ R. Parker,  2014:  From a vintage that flies under the radar, the 1999 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Reserve is a beauty that’s drinking at point today. Pepper, garrigue, saddle leather and spice all show here. This is a textbook Pegau to drink over the coming 4-5 years. To 2019,  92;  R. Parker,  2001:  A powerful, concentrated 1999 Chateauneuf du Pape … bouquet of pepper, garrigue, black fruits, and earth. Full-bodied and expansive, with sweet tannin giving it a more open-knit, accessible style than most young vintages of Pegau, this is a wine to drink while waiting for the 1998 and 1995 to become fully mature. To 2014, 92;  www.pegau.com ]
Garnet,  ruby and some velvet,  midway in depth.  At the tasting,  the wine was a little impaired by light TCA.  I had failed to notice and exclude it at the decanting stage:.  As is so often the case,  a little air brings up any latent TCA taint.  Eight tasters noticed.  The wine itself is fragrant in an old-fashioned quite dark fruits way,  just light brett (low for Pegau) noticed by only one taster (so less than the Clos des Papes).  Palate is rich,  dark fruits again and quite tanniny,  though there is no new oak.  Though rich,  there is a certain austerity,  too.  The wine is fully mature,  but will hold for some years.  It would be pretty good with an old-fashioned roast beef dinner:  a better bottle would score a little higher.  No votes for favoured places,  but seven least votes.  GK 10/19