Some call the 2008 Chateauneuf du Pape vintage challenging, others call it a return to normalcy or more typical. The later are mostly critics who lament the recent hotter, drier vintages that have produced bigger, higher alcohol wines. “The 2008 vintage appears to represent a distinct turn-around from the recent heatwaves, especially that of the hyped-up (and juiced up) 2007s. Rain through the late winter resulted in a late floraison; rain through the spring saw mildew add to the growers’ problems. July and August ran closer to form, and then a heavy rain storm in September might well have destroyed the harvest if not for the strong Mistral on its heels. Growers had to exercise “severe sorting” to minimize under-ripe fruit, with the result that production was down by 35% and special cuvees were generally put aside for the year. The better producers were able to manage these conditions to make good wine.” (Tony Fletcher)
Having not had some of the other vintages that 2008 is compared to (2004 & 1999) I can only say that 2008 is much more approachable now than either 2006 or 2007 that I have recently tasted. I am a big fan of the 2007 and it is commanding a large section of my cellar (don’t tell Megan), but I don’t plan on starting to drink those bottles for a few more years, at least. At a recent trade tasting I had the opportunity to taste some some very nice 2008s and they were very drinkable.
What I tasted…
2008 Domaine de la Mordoree Chateauneuf du Pape, La Reine des Bois (80% Grenache, 5% Mourvedre, 5% Syrah, 5% Vaccarese, 5% Counoise)(50% oak aging)($135) – beautiful interlacing of dark and red fruit flavors leading to more red fruit of currant and raspberry on the palate. Loads of secondary flavors on the palate including leather, mushroom, espresso bean with some more of those dark fruit flavors coming back towards the finish (blackberry). Structure was full bodied and intense, well integrated for such a young age.
2008 Domaine Grand Veneur Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge ($50) – baking spice and black cherry dominate on the nose in addition to nice notes of anise. Palate is full bodied and surprisingly mature with similar flavors as the nose alluded to, with hints of mocha and suede. Long finish!
I can’t say which is the “correct” vintage, but I can definitely say if you are looking to enjoy some CdP in the near future and can’t find anything on the shelf prior to ’06, look for an ’08.