All wines stored at 55° and 70% humidity
Ethereal and Côtes du Rhone does not really fit, let's be real. Sun-soaked blends based on Grenache have long provided those plum and strawberry jam-inflected wines long lusted for their fleshy and hedonistic traits. A hint of white pepper and game can bring complexity that separates these from other notable value competitors, but acid-driven these are not. Having said all that, Clos du Mont-Olivet has long stood out for me as the ideal destination for palates that crave a necessary lift and brightness to the CdR category.
First thing first: 2016 is the real deal - hype is valid in the southern Rhone. We're now out of the Parker-dominated spell where vintages like 2007 gained so much attention, yet proved their lack of acidity and freshness would ultimately be their undoing as those Châteauneuf du Papes rested in dark corners of cellars, unwinding into alcohol-dominated monstrosities. Were there successes? Of course. But, overwhelmingly that lauded vintage has proved best to be drunk in years past.
Unlike the 100% Syrahs of the Northern Rhone, the southern Grenache-dominant blends largely show up for work on day one and provide serious pleasure. There are examples of mesmerizing, aged Châteauneuf du Pape from the likes of Henri Bonneau, Chateau Rayas, Vieux Télégraphe, and Clos du Mont Olivet (such as the 1985 we offered earlier this year). But, largely, this region's strength is in its youth. One of the reasons Grenache is supplemented by more hearty varieties here is because it's prone to oxidation and naturally produces rather high ripeness levels leading to higher alcohols - each of these greatly inhibit a wines ability age gracefully and retain freshness. OK, back to Mont-Olivet.
Côtes du Rhone's immediacy is its strength, and Clos du Mont-Olivet has long stood as a leading figure in the more understated and elegant section of the category. Freshness is the leading sensibility at Mont-Olivet. This special Vieilles Vignes cuvée comes from vines planted in the 1950's in lieu-dits Montueil and La Levade. The blend is 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, and 10% Carignan. 2016 has it all because there is simply no shortcoming to be found: Ripeness, structure, energy - everything's in ideal balance.
This special bottling always has concentration coming from these old vines, but it's the grace and refinement that leads it to rival Châteauneuf du Papes. In 2016 it's simply the single greatest overachiever of the valley, and I've created special 6-pack pricing today to make planning for Thanksgiving and the rest of the winter an easy choice.