Panisse Chateauneuf-du-Pape Noble Revelation 2016
The Domaine de Panisse is a hidden gem near the nice provencale town of Courthezon. Surrounded by cypress trees and vines, the winery can be found in a beautifully renovated old Mas, everything perfectly in its place and clean as a whistle. Many consumers don't realize it, but for some reason this is a difficult task in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. After all, why keep it clean if the wine easily sells out simply based on its name?
In 1992 the French government purchased Domaine de Panisse in order to demolish it for a super-highway connecting Avignon and Orange. But later that same year, in one of the worst rain vintages on record, the whole area flooded and the government rethought their decision. Christine and Jean-Pierre Olivier expatriated the property from the government and set about the looooong task of renovating the land and the buidlings.
Even as recently as two years ago, during the messy 2014 vintage, the Oliviers decided to NOT make any wine (think about that decision for a minute) and took advantage of an empty winery to finally put the finishing touches on the building. What they have now is truly a tremendous property, but still relatively unknown.
Our friend Veronique Lombardo from Devoy Martine in nearby Lirac introduced us earlier in the year and even though Christine was under the weather she greeted me warmly and we had a really, really great tasting.
But, it was upon a return visit that she pulled out this special bottling that for some reason she hadn't shown me ealier. Why? Perhaps its name: Noble Revelation. I think her idea was maybe to get me hooked on her other wines, then pull out all the stops and give me a REVELATION!
Christine and Jean-Marie bottle this wine only in select vintages--07, 09, 12 and now this 2016. It is culled from their best and oldest plots, in this case 80-year old Grenache that look like Ichabod Crane gnarly old stumps. A portion of lively, peppery Syrah gives this wine a bonus lift where otherwise it might be a bit too sultry and heavy. Instead, we have a complex, balanced, saturated Chateauneuf that rivals any other top tier offering in the appellation. Yum.
So what's the secret here? Well to me, its the land. I've visited Chateauneuf-du-Pape a lot over the years, often with mixed results. However, when I discover a winery that has vines planted on sand or sandstone, rather than the ubiquitious galets roules, round rocks, that are in all the photos, I often have a keeper. Such is the case at de Panisse.
I wouldn't hesitate to cellar this baby for another 10-15 years.