Super Chateauneuf du Papes

The excellent 2006 Chateauneuf du Papes are now on the shelves. Here are some of the best of the vintage, including one that earned 98 points

Châteauneuf du Pape offers enormous diversity in styles. At its best, it's a wine that has a deep ruby/purple color, a sumptuous texture, full body, and can evolve over 10 to 15-plus years. It often smells like an open-air marketplace in Provence, with the aromas of lavender, fennel, licorice, black truffles, pepper, nutmeg, smoked meats, and copious quantities of sweet black cherries and blackberry fruit. Very appealing in their youth because of the sweetness of their tannins, Châteauneuf du Papes are remarkably flexible with an assortment of foods. Here are some of the excellent 2006s that are just hitting the marketplace.

89 points 2006 Paul Autard Châteauneuf du Pape

This deep plum/garnet-hued 2006 Châteauneuf du Pape exhibits lovely berry fruit notes intermixed with scents of underbrush, licorice, roasted herbs, and plums. It is a delicious, soft, beautifully concentrated red that is best consumed over the next seven to eight years. $45

90 points 2006 Bois de Boursan Châteauneuf du Pape

The 2006 vintage is a very strong one for Bois de Boursan, and its regular cuvée of 2006 Châteauneuf du Pape is outstanding. With rich, attractive, earthy notes, and plenty of floral and spice box characteristics interwoven with dark, ripe red and black fruits, lavender, and oodles of Provençal typicity, it is full-bodied, fleshy, and already gorgeous to drink, but promises to evolve for at least a decade or more. $35-$42

90 points 2006 Les Cailloux Châteauneuf du Pape

The 2006 Châteauneuf du Pape from Les Cailloux displays the vintage's distinctive, explosively earthy, spicy, peppery, garigue-dominated essence of Provence-like aromatics. The fruit takes a back seat to the spicy, earthy component. This full-bodied, supple-textured effort is already seductive and round. Enjoy it over the next 10 to 12 years. $35-$42

90 points 2006 Raymond Usseglio Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvée Girard

Raymond Usseglio's 2006s are beautiful wines. Between his two traditional cuvées, the 2006 Girard—the cuvée imported here to the U.S. by Peter Weygandt—is richer, deeper, with more meat, lavender, and licorice, although both are very fine wines. The Girard gets the edge in points because tasting proves there's more there. $48

91 points 2006 Domaine Grand Veneur Châteauneuf du Pape

A sleeper of the vintage, the 2006 Châteauneuf du Pape from Grand Veneur is a seductive effort offering plenty of earth, tapenade, and spice as well as black cherry and cassis fruit. Deep, full-bodied, rich, chewy, and totally seductive, it can be enjoyed over the next decade. $40-$45

91 points 2006 Vieux Donjon Châteauneuf du Pape

Vieux Donjon's 2006 Châteauneuf du Pape reveals the vintage's peppery, earthy spiciness along with notes of forest floor, root vegetables, black cherries, and meat. This rich, medium- to full-bodied effort possesses moderately soft tannin as well as good body, depth, and richness. It is a strong effort that should age nicely for 15-plus years. $55-$60

93 points 2006 Charvin Châteauneuf du Pape

Charvin's 2006 Châteauneuf du Pape has turned out to be one of the vintage's top efforts. Lovely sweet notes of glove leather, roasted meats, spice box, ground pepper, kirsch, and raspberries are present in this deep, full-bodied 2006. More evolved than the 2007, with copious concentration, elegance, and a Burgundy grand cru-like complexity as well as freshness, it should be enjoyed over the next 12 to 15-plus years. $65

93 points 2006 Domaine de la Janasse Châteauneuf du Pape

This dense purple-colored 2006 Châteauneuf du Pape, 80% foudre-aged grenache and 20% syrah and mourvèdre aged in small barrels, offers a beautiful bouquet of blackberries, roasted meats, sweet herbs, and new saddle leather. Full-bodied and superconcentrated with no hard edges, it should drink beautifully for 12 to 15 years. $45

95 points 2006 Château Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape

Beaucastel's 2006 Châteauneuf du Pape is performing even better from bottle than it did last year. Its dense plum/ruby/purple color is followed by a big, sweet perfume of black truffles, camphor, earth, incense, new saddle leather, and loads of peppery, blackberry, and herb-infused, meaty, black cherry fruit. Deep, full-bodied, and dense, with sweet tannin, this explosively rich Châteauneuf is a stronger effort than the 2005, 2004, or 2003. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2028. $85

98 points 2006 Clos des Papes Châteauneuf du Pape

The 2006 Châteauneuf du Pape is one of the two or three candidates for the wine of the vintage. An extraordinarily great wine, the 2006 is far superior to the 2005, which was amazing, and while made in a different style, is as great as the 2003, and such legends as 1990 and 1978. Fashioned from a minuscule 21 hectoliters per hectare, and tipping the scales at 15.2% natural alcohol, the 2006 boasts a dense ruby/purple color to the rim, in addition to an extraordinary bouquet of melted licorice, spring flowers, raspberries, black currants, spice box, and earth. In the mouth, it is utterly profound—full-bodied and multidimensional with astonishing purity, length, equilibrium, and intensity. This is a superb vintage for proprietor Vincent Avril, and he deserves accolades for producing a wine of such incredible intensity and complexity. Think of Clos des Papes as a Châteauneuf du Pape with the complexity of a top-notch grand cru Burgundy from the Côte de Nuits. $85

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