Le Vieux Donjon Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2015 (Southern Rhone, France) - [WS 95] [JD 95] [ST 93-95] [RP 93]

Le Vieux Donjon Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2015
(Southern Rhone, France) - [WS 95] [JD 95] [ST 93-95] [RP 93]


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WS95 JD95 ST93 RP93
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About this Wine:

The domain Vieux Donjon was founded by the father of Lucien Michel, Marcel Michel, who did the first bottling at his domain in 1966. Since 1979 Marie José and Lucien Michel have run the property. The next generation Claire Michel is being readied to continue on when Lucien Michel decides to retire. The domain covers 14 ha of Chateauneuf du Pape, one of them with white varieties. The vinification process is in the best sense of the word traditional. Only one cuvée of red and of white Chateauneuf du Pape is made. The cuvee rouge consists of 75% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre and 5% Cinsault. Aged for 6 months in cement tank and then about 12 months in foudres. If there is a picture to epitomize Chateauneuf du Pape, it is of huge, gnarled vines rising from a mound of large smooth stones. And if one estate epitomizes these vieux ceps and cailloux, then surely it is the small domain of Lucien and Marie-José Michel. Their oldest vines exceed eighty years and are so lodged in heavy stones that it takes a special tractor to work the “soil”. Those old vines, together with late harvesting, make for quite low yields and that makes for wonderfully concentrated vinous raw material which the Michels guide through a very traditional Chateauneuf cellar upbringing. The mix of grapes, too, is quite traditional, leaning overwhelmingly on Grenache. However, Michels harvest their grapes parcel by parcel, according to strict standards of ripeness (tasting!), rather than by grape variety. Vines of three sorts are mixed together.

Seldom blockbuster wines in their youth, but always well-defined and shapely so that they may be enjoyed right away, Vieux Donjon Chateauneufs nevertheless age slowly and magnificently. Yet, the estate is so small and modest that, when they assembled a vertical collection for Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar in Spring of 1995, there were numerous holes. Apparently, not only do the Michels not keep any prisoners in dungeon (“Donjon” - which was apparently just Lucien’s take on what remains of the Popes’ new summer castle seen on the label) but they don’t keep many bottles of their own wine in their cellar!

Ratings & Reviews


95 Points - Wine Spectator:
"Rich and dark in profile, with delicious, velvety layers of warm fig, black currant and blackberry confiture moving through slowly, flecked with hints of ganache, roasted apple wood and tar. The finish has cut to match the heft. A real brick house that will age well. Best from 2020 through 2040. 6,500 cases made." - JM (Nov 30, 2017)

95 Points - Jeb Dunnuck:
"I loved the 2015 Châteauneuf du Pape from Claire Michel and it’s a classic blend of 75% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre and 5% Cinsault, mostly from rolled stone terroirs, that was partially destemmed and brought up all in foudre. It’s a downright sexy, voluptuous 2015 offering textbook notes of kirsch liqueur, ground pepper, herbes de Provence, and incense. It picks up more dark fruit with time in the glass, is full-bodied, has plenty of fat and glycerin, and ample tannin, although they’re so polished you have to hunt for them. This gorgeous example of traditionally made Châteauneuf du Pape that’s going to drink beautifully for 15+ years." (10/19/2017)

93-95 Points - Antonio Galloni's Vinous Media:
"(aged in a combination of concrete tanks and foudres) Vivid ruby. Sexy, high-pitched red berry preserve, floral pastille and Asian spice aromas show outstanding clarity. Sappy, penetrating black raspberry, spicecake and licorice flavors gain weight with air and pick up suggestions of blood orange and smoky minerals. Shows impressive depth and polish, alluring sweetness and no rough edges. Showcases the best attributes of this warm vintage, finishing with silky, mounting tannins and lingering florality." - Josh Raynolds (Mar 2017)

93 Points - Robert Parker's Wine Advocate:
"These days, Vieux Donjon is one of the few estates in the region making only a single cuvée (Close des Papes is another). The 2015 Chateauneuf du Pape is a floral, violet-scented wine that's supple and ripe. Only medium to full-bodied, it showcases complex garrigue and licorice notes rather than oodles of red fruit and comes to a long, silky finish." - Joe Czerwinski (Oct, 31 2017)