When you share a wine blog for a few years you appreciate the tastes of the other blogger. Of course, Geoff and I have differing (albeit similar) tastes. However one thing we definitely agree on is that we don’t like Chateauneuf du Pape (CdP), both finding that the overbearing grenache tramples over the other grapes in the blend. But plenty of others love it and I was interested to read that sales over CdP were up 8% at Majestic Wine over Christmas.
With that in mind I opened, then decanted, another bottle from Domaine Usseglio – the 2006 (14%). This came from a mixed case purchased from The Big Red Wine Company four years ago. They still have plenty left (as do I). This bottle would have been about £22, which is pretty reasonable as CdP goes. The blend is 80% Grenache, 10% Mourvèdre, 6% Syrah, 2% Counoise, 2% Cinsault (60-year-old vines) and while the grenache certainly predominated I found this a much more enjoyable drink the a previous bottle blogged on, the remains of which went down the sink. Part of that was due to the texture which was leaner and less port like although a warming port-like sensation was evident as it went down. Spicy, with some peppery notes. So, not bad, but would I buy another bottle? Not a chance.
[Geoff: It seems we are not alone in our disaffection. Benjamin Lewin writes “My general impression is that CDP would be a more interesting wine – and a better match for food – if producers pulled back a bit further on the Grenache”. There is a another problem looming: global warming leading to higher alcohol levels and a lack of water in vineyards, which has led to greater use of Syrah and Mourvedre grape varieties. The southern Rhone, however, is “too warm for Syrah” says Chapoutier who is advocating adding back water to reduce alcohol levels. At the moment it is illegal but he says “lots of winemakers do it” and the practice should be legal, “out in the open. It’s the future of wine. ” according to Chapoutier.]