Provençal Bargains, but Not for Long

These wonderful, reasonably priced wines from Provence have remarkable flexibility with food, and the region is one of my favorites for old vines

I have been tracking Châteauneuf du Papes for more than 30 years. These wonderful, reasonably priced wines from Provence have remarkable flexibility with food, and the region is one of my favorites for old vines, artisanal winemaking, and organic farming. The world is obviously catching on, and prices are going to go up, but here are some outstanding bargains from the excellent 2005 vintage.

88 POINTS

Bois du Boursan 2005 Châteauneuf du Pape.This well-made 2005 displays plenty of spicy, peppery juniper notes intermixed with some sweet cherry and currant, but the tannic, and slightly astringent finish kept my score from going any higher. Give it two years of aging and drink it over the following 12 years. $24-$28

90 POINTS

Paul Autard 2005 Châteauneuf du Pape. This is a beauty. Dark ruby with a flamboyant black currant, sweet cherry, floral, licorice, and spice nose, the wine is deep and full bodied, with tannins in the supple finish. This already drinks well but should continue to evolve for 10 to 15-plus years. $30-$43

91 POINTS

La Bastide St.-Dominique 2005 Châteauneuf du Pape Secrets de Pignan Vieilles Vignes. The estate's top cuvée is built on elegance and finesse rather than pure power. It reveals a dark ruby hue, plus more tannic structure than the 2006 as well as additional heft. It can be enjoyed over the next 10 to 12 years. $50

93 POINTS

Guigal 2005 Châteauneuf du Pape. A beautifully rich and full-bodied wine. Lavender, pepper, sweet blackberry, and cherry soar from the glass. It will probably need a couple of years in the bottle. But it should then drink well for up to 20 years. $45-$50

93 POINTS

Clos Saint-Jean 2005 Châteauneuf du Pape. A blend of grenache plus syrah, mourvédre, and cinsault. The wine, a dense plum/ruby/purple color, is exquisite, with notes of incense, melted licorice, blackberry, and sweet cherry. A superb example of Châteauneuf du Pape—peppery, spicy, rich, full bodied, and layered. It should drink well for 10 to 15 years. $27-$37

93 POINTS

Charvin 2005 Châteauneuf du Pape. A superb wine of a dark ruby hue with notes of underbrush, kirsch, and a bit of pepper and spice box. It is deep and broad, with outstanding concentration, moderately high tannin, and a nicely structured, pure mouthfeel. Anticipated maturity: 2011 to 2022. $46-$70

Wines rated from 96-100 are extraordinary; 90-95, excellent; 80-89, above average to very good.

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