Thursday, November 15, 2007

2005 Le Vieux Donjon, Chateauneuf-duPape

Chateauneuf-du-Pape is a great Autumn wine, and I have been drinking quite a bit of it lately. Current releases are from the fantastic 2005 vintage. It seems like in 2005 you couldn't go wrong in the Southern Rhone. No matter what style of wine you wanted to make, Mother Nature cooperated. So, it was of little surprise to see a Chateauneuf-du-Pape among the top three in Wine Spectator's Top 100 Wines of the Year for 2007.

I purchased three bottles of Le Vieux Donjon from Liquor Mart (Boulder,CO) a few months ago as part of a mixed case of Chateauneuf-du-Pape of my choice. By the way, if you live in the area you can get 25% off cases of wine at Liquor Mart through Decmber 31, 2007 by following this link - 25% OFF!!! I was planning on cellaring them for several years before opening a bottle as most CdP's need a few years of rest to come together and start drinking well. However, because it was announced today that the 2005 Le Vieux Donjon was voted the #3 wine of 2007 by Wine Spectator, I could not resist giving it a taste.

As in 2003, 2005 was very warm in the Southern Rhone. The wines tend to be big, muscular, rich and modern. In 2005 Le Vieux Donjon was able to take advantage of these growing conditions and produced a wine with enough fruit to reflect the heat of the growing season, but enough restraint to show that it is a traditional wine at the core.

Tasting Notes: The 2005 Le Vieux Donjon is made from 75 percent Grenache, 15 percent Syrah and 10 percent Mourvedre and Cinsault. It is surprisingly drinkable now, but this one will be a stunner in just a few short years. It has a nose of cherries, raspberries, roasted meats, and white truffles. The palate reveals notes of cherries, strawberries, pepper, olives, licorice and Provencal herbs. It has medium body, but its structure gives it a sense of weight and depth one would not expect from looking at the wine in the glass. Made with traditional winemaking techniques, including cement fermentation tanks and aged foudres, the 2005 Le Vieux Donjon is a great Chateauneuf-du-Pape from a great vintage, and a wonderful representation of the appellation. 92 pts. find it


zach said...

Ahh, if I could find way to find cheap CDP I would be a happy man. Thanks for the review, I'll have to check out zap or searcher and see if I can find it.

Brad Rothman said...

Zach, I hear you, my man. The word is out, and CdP prices will certainly continue to escalate in years to come. The weak dollar isn't helping matters either. However, CdP still offers a great quality to price ratio even if the decent ones do start at about $30. For $50 you can get outstanding, classic CdP. You might consider just taking a deep breath and investing in this great vintage of CdP while prices are still at this level. I have a feeling that in a few years we'll have to pay luxury wine prices to get top quality CdP. On the other hand, here are two leads for good CdP at "affordable prices." Cuvee du Vatican, Chateauneuf-du-Pape can be found for about $29 a bottle. Great stuff, but you will need to give the '05 a few years in the cellar. I'd give it about 89 - 90 pts. You might look for an '03 as it is reaching early maturity. If you are willing to spend a few more bucks, I highly recommend the Reserve Sixteen from the same producer. I believe it is a bit better than Le Vieux Donjon, in fact. Also look for producer E. Guigal, CdP on Searcher, Wine Commune, or WineBid. I love the '01 and '03. This tremendous and traditional CdP can be picked up for about $35 if you keep your eyes open. If you are buying from WineBid, make sure you take into account their 14% buyer's premium in addition to shipping when bidding. I hope this has been helpful. Best of luck!

RougeAndBlanc said...

For the Vatican, do you know what is the difference between the regular bottling, the Diffonty & the Tradition?
I had Vatican once, but that was long before I started writing down what I drink so the memory is a bit hazy.
Thanks for the recommendation on the '05s.

Brad Rothman said...


Interesting question that I can not answer off the top of my head. I have not heard of the Cuvee du Vatican Diffonty or Tradition. I believe that my bottles have either been labeled as "Cuvee Du Vatican, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Reserve Sixtine" or simply "Cuvee du Vatican, Chateauneuf-du-Pape." I see that I accidentally typed "Sixteen" in my previous response. Ooops. In any event, I will be sure to do a little research to see what I can dig up on the cuvees you mentioned. Thanks for your comment.


Phil said...

Nice pickup Brad. I see now that bottles are going for around $125 and up. Time to find some second runners and cousins. The Cuvee Vatican can be found for as low as $30.



Brad Rothman said...

I knew that the price had escalated since WS announced their Top 100 Wines of 2007, but I did not know that a retailer was asking $125 per bottle. I don't know who would pay that for this wine, but they say there is one born every minute. The Vatican, as you wrote, can be picked up for under $30, and it's a great wine. Very different style than the Donjon. I think the Reserve Sixtine is worth the $15 extra per bottle, though. Don't forget to look for the '03s that might be hanging around as well. Across the board, it was probably even a better vintage than '05.

RougeAndBlanc said...

After doing some research, I found out the there is no such thing as 'Diffonty' or 'Tradition' as far as Vatican is concerned. It is either the regular bottling or the Sixteen Reserve.
Sorry about the confusion.

Brad Rothman said...

Thanks, Andrew. After I had searched online, and though my wine book collection I had drawn the same conclusion. Thanks so much for reading and posting comments as well. By the way, I owe you a review on the '99 Leoville-Barton. If you email me at I will email you a link as soon as I get it posted.

Ralphie said...

Please update. I love your blog so much and I can't stand that you stopped. What happened?

Elliot Essman said...

Thanks for the information. Of all French wines, CDP probably requires the most research and the greatest degree of trust. This is highly variable stuff.

Brad Rothman said...

Elliot, it sounds to me like you are a seasoned CdP drinker, and I know what you are referring to when you write, "This is highly variable stuff." There was a time when much of the wine produced in the appellation sat around unbottled in cement foudres until it was sold. Therefore, bottle variation from the same producer within the same vintage was at times frustrating. One bottle would be terrific while the next would be tired and oxidized. I have found that within the past ten years, however, that CdP producers have embraced the goal of delivering wines of consistently high quality. Of course, they need Mother Nature's cooperation as well, but other than 2002 they have had good luck with respect to weather in recent years. Vieux Donjon is a great producer, and a fairly safe purchase. It still needs a few more years in the bottle, but I think you will enjoy it immensely. Thanks for the comment, Elliot.

rigby said...

I agree with Ralphie, please write more! Or, have you stopped drinking wine?