Clos des Papes

This is one of the great estates in Chateauneuf du Pape, with a history that dates back to the mid-1700s. I believe the Avril family first estate-bottled wine in 1896. Clos des Papes, with its 90+ acres of vines spread among 24 separate parcels in the appellation, is one of the traditional hallmarks of classic, long-lived Chateauneuf du Pape. Everything is aged in old wood foudres, no old vine or luxury cuvee is produced, and the red wine is a classic blend of 65% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre, 20% Syrah, and the rest Vaccarese, Counoise, and Muscardin. ROBERT PARKER

Vincent Avril is fond of pointing out that since Clos des Papes is one of the few domains in the appellation that produces a single red bottling of Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Vieux Donjon and Mont-Redon are others that comes to mind), his wine can be looked at as “a regular bottling and a reserve rolled into one” but he really prefers to look at it as a reserve “because the yields are so low”. By low Avril means a yield of less than 20 hectoliters per hectare in most recent vintages, only 18 hl/ha in 2015, 15 hl/ha in 2014 and a ridiculously low 12 hl/ha in 2013. “So it has been going up,” he quipped, with a good dose of irony. Contrast that with the legally allowed crop of 35 hl/ha and it justifies Avril’s assertion that his Châteauneuf really does deserve to be compared to other estate’s luxury bottlings and justifies his prices. There’s no question that the quality of Avril’s 2015 is one of the stars of the vintage; it’s a wine that bears comparison to the many superb wines made at this storied domain, which encompasses 35 hectares of vines spread across 25 parcels in the appellation. JOSH RAYNOLDS