From Eric Asimov’s New York Times tasting panel’s review of current release of Châteauneuf-du-Pape (“Châteauneuf That Proves Bigger Is Not So Bad,” September 5, 2013):
M. Chapoutier **½
Châteauneuf-du-Pape La Bernardine 2010
Dense and tannic, with smoky, spicy flavors of dark fruit and herbs.
“Recently, because I have been hearing such good word of mouth about the 2010 Châteauneufs,” writes Asimov, “the wine panel tasted 20 bottles from that vintage. Right away, it was clear to us that the advance word was correct. In fact, it seemed to me that 2010 was a vintage with so much to offer that it could bridge that yawning stylistic gap that so often makes Châteauneuf an incendiary subject.”
Châteauneuf-du-Pape La Bernardine Rouge
Current Vintages: 2009 and 2010
Grape Variety Used: 90% Grenache, 10% Syrah
Alcohol Level: 14.5%
Length/Type of Fermentation: Vinification is carried out in the traditional way in concrete tanks. This is about three-week fermentation with a high temperature to ensure an optimal extraction of the color and tannins.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape is known for it amazing soil of large rolled stones which laid on the bed of the Rhône river in ancient times. These stones hold the heat of the day’s sun and warm the vines in the brisk evening air. Chapoutier’s La Bernardine is quite unique in that it is made up of only one to three grape varieties when 13 are allowed by AOC law. At such low yields, Michel produces a rich, flavorful wine with moderate tannins.