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The Wines

80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Cinsault (av age 44 years) from Devès d’Estouard (N-W), Les Pradel (N-W) , destemmed, 3-4 week vinification in 50% steel vat, 50% concrete vat, daily pumping overs, part vat emptying/refillings, aged 60-70% large 40 hl barrel, 30-40% 30-40% tronconic oak vat 18 months (until mid-2010s 70% large barrel 30% steel vat raising, before late 2000s was aged 20% 225-litre oak casks, 80% large 40 hl barrels 15 months), filtered, first wine 1959 after the split from Joseph Sabon, his brother, of Clos du Mont Olivet, 18-20,000 b

2016

(large barrel/oak vat) bright and full red robe. The nose gives a baked coffee, prune, arid lands aroma, some red cherries to brighten it. The palate is also baked, holds red fruits with some energy, before the finish becomes more constrained, is dry and baked. The finish raises some questions, possible fault lines there. I’d like to re-taste after bottling. 15°. From mid-2019. 2032-34 Oct 2017

2015 ()

(barrel/vat) dark red robe. The bouquet is solid, rather closed; there is a couch of cooked black fruit, black cherry jelly on the agenda. It’s going to vary well in time. The palate is thickly juiced, with good pedigree in the content, a handsome roll of flavour. The tannins fit in well, bring a little seasoning and cut. The gras is tasty through to the finish; this is wholesome wine. 14.5°. From 2019. 2031-33 Sept 2016

2013 ()

(large barrel) medium+ depth of red. Slightly soapy, dark fruited nose. The palate is tough and chewy; this shows a bit of extraction. The finish is dry, assertive. Difficult to taste as it in the grip of its raising (élevage). It needs to be reviewed again later. From 2017. 15°. 2023-25 JL Oct 2014

2012 ()

(large barrel, bottling March 2014) quite a dark red; the nose is reserved, comes with an inner, baked aspect, a note of cherry tart, klifatis. The palate debut is nice and steady, bears tasty fruit that is already prominent. This runs well, is tasty and smooth all through. It ends on a tang of extra depth, darkness. Cleanly fruited, a wine for agreeable mid-term drinking. From spring 2015. 14.5°. €16.50, 18,000 b. 2023-25  Nov 2013

2011

(barrel/vat) dark robe. Reduction in a drawn in, meaty, game backdrop; the main fruit is blackberry, has a treacle sweetness and a note of licorice. The grapes picking has been late, to accentuate its ripeness. The palate shows a high octane ripeness, is fluid and round, flavoured by blackberry. Late tannin enters carefully. It is pretty much all together through the palate, is going to be notably round and plump as it ages towards 5 years old, for instance. It spreads its coulis style fruit across the palate, the tannins are fine grained. It is pretty long. A bit of a fruit bomb – decant this. From spring 2015. 2026-28  Dec 2012

2010

red robe, a few black tints. Smoky, fat, reductive air – this is a ripe number, almost evolving already. The nose is wide enough, presents safe Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The palate has a “high” fruit presence; it is rolled into a suave ball, and should be drunk early rather than waited for. It will be agreeable, even if there are no great fireworks. The length is fair – it shows juice there. Gives correct, facile, effortless drinking. Can be decanted. From spring 2013. 2022-23 Dec 2011

2009

(barrel) quite a dark robe, matt top. Brewed, rather reductive, animal, acetate airs to this bouquet, cold Indian tea. I get a sense of volatile acidity, a looseness, at the start of the palate – this effect continues, with the cherry fruit running along but lacking a bolster to support it. Not sure about the balance. This can flatter early on, but this sample would not be long-lived. I reckon a retaste after bottling is in order. From late 2011. 2018-20 Oct 2010

2008

(barrel) quite full red, prune colour. Peppery, young black fruit aroma, just post-fermentation in style, that raw freshness, shows smoke, late licorice, is broad enough. Mid-weight palate, already close to being OK to drink. Has a quite soft prune and blackberry fruit flavour, is mild all through, Bit of end heat, which is correct. From late 2010. 2016-18 Nov 2009

2007

quite full robe. Brewed black fruits, beef stock, a shouldery bouquet that runs across the glass, has a savoury, varied aroma potentially. Its blackberry fruit possesses quiet poise, a clear inner, and persists, with pure elegance. Good, classy fruit and fresh length here. At a primary juncture, but can definitely amplify and vary. A graceful example of this big vintage, has good, understated depth. From late 2011. 2022-24 Nov 2009

2006 ()

quite a dark robe, black traces; compact, black cherry aroma – the bouquet is quite ripe, the ripeness not overdone, combines smoke, floral airs with game on its outer flanks – it is young, raw. Depth is indicated by a gravy, meat stock filling in it. The palate is led by red berries of fresh, rather compelling appeal. The fruit is bright and harmonious, and the wine ends roundly. Good juice, attractive perfume - very Châteauneuf in its Grenache expression. Wholesome true wine with an STGT leaning. Harmony in the glass as it ages. From mid-2009. 2020-22 Jan 2008

2005

red with slight dark traces; there is an upright form to the nose – the aroma runs up and down, not across – shows black fruits with some black pepper and spice included: wait until 2010 spring onwards for a real open declaration and variety in this. The palate starts more mildly than anticipated – contains measured plum fruit with a definite density, a compact nature about it. Becomes more restricted and dry as it moves towards the finish – it runs there more on its power than its fruit. Genuine wine here. Can move up the ratings if patience is exercised. 2024-27 June 2008 Previously Dec 2006 ***(*) (casks) vanilla, cherry fruit on the nose; the palate fruit is tight, with the mid-palate a little dumb, before the cherry fruit returns. Good and typical, with notes of herbs. Especially from 2009 or later. There is oak in this. 2025-27  Dec 2006

2004

smoky, tight bouquet – red plums and herbs, comes in a square shape right now. Solid palate – could have more topping, the fruit needs a bit more matter and flesh around it. Perfectly correct, beyond the vintage’s style. Drops a little short at the end. 2014-16 Oct 2006 Previously Dec 2005 (vat/barrel) *** matt plum red colour, very Grenache. Has a reserved, handsome style of bouquet that is rather elegant, and also has earthy elements. The palate is well-moulded, while the fruit shows its ripeness on the finish, the tone being raspberry, with some fungal notes. The tannins here are refined but insist quietly. Has a clear, rather mineral aftertaste. More expressive from 2008. 2021-23 Dec 2005

2003 ()

mild red. Olive, southern scents, firm-toned nose, square - isn`t a giving bouquet, drinker has to search. Fleshy, full start, red fruits with some kick. Thread of alcohol, power within it. Some chewiness on finish, the aftertaste is baked and not fruit-connected. The attack is where the fruit shows through. Large wine, though not manifestly so. 2015-18 September 2005, London Previously Feb 2005 London *** brewed, baked bouquet, full-on in the dry vein of the year with prune/ripe plum, herbs and alcohol evident. Compact, clean flavour, stone fruit is modern in style, longer maceration. Full and charged wine with tannins that reside well within. Tangy, herbal-prune aftertaste. Correct length, some final heat. Esp 2008-09 on, 2020-22 Feb 2005, London

2002

middling red. Shape of bouquet is upright, stiff, though contains red fruit, game as it evolves. Tarry backdrop, meaty - the south. Soft, restrained attack, persists and even grows a little through the palate. Pliant, agreeable, has some tannic support. Drinks well now. 2009 September 2005, London

2001 ()

even red robe; subdued, smoky nose – shows a compact, dry-aired aroma, cooked blackcurrant, nuts. The palate likewise is tight, shows grainy fruit. A bit extracted, thus a “black” flavour, some heat in it. It is upright for now. The length is fair. Not a wine to drink young, go straight to drinking from 2007-08 onwards. 2017-20 Oct 2003

1978

ruby presence in the pale red; closely, tightly bound bouquet with appealing sweetness and good, mixed airs of black olives of Nyons, a little leather. There is a lot here, and would be reserved without the help of the decanting. After 30 minutes open, a garrigue aspect comes along; after 50 minutes, it becomes more grilled. The palate is also tight-knit, holds black fruit with a ripe tannin presence late on. Very good length. This is in fine form. 2018-21  Dec 2006

1967

Domaine Roger Sabon & Fils Les Olivets on the label; largely ruby robe, a little brick. Scented tea with a little sous-bois or damp forest airs in a bouquet that is still round and live. Prune, quince, rich outer layer to the palate, with a joli acidity keeping it ticking over. This is rocking along. The length is still primo. I bought this vintage as a young man, and thoroughly enjoyed wines from Les Cailloux and Domaine de la Solitude – it was a vintage of depth, and flair. “My father Roger said this had the air of violets,” Jean-Jacques Sabon. 2017-19  Dec 2006

1964 ()

Domaine Roger Sabon & Fils Les Olivets on the label; gentle ruby, fragile robe; the bouquet gives a sweet, gentle, southern pleasure, a soft aroma of plum fruit. It is becoming a bit volatile on the palate, is straightening up with age. As it tightens and becomes more restricted, the finish is rather burnt. Rather wobbly now. Some Châteauneufs lived well this year, but not all. Dec 2006

1959

Domaine Roger Sabon & Fils Les Olivets on the label; tender aroma, lovely soft appeal – the bouquet is floral and rounded, exudes a calm air of curved red fruit. The palate is savoury on the attack, shows quince and plum fruit, is still live. It tapers a little before the finish. Prune, red fruit lie comfortably at its heart. This gives the southern bounty of mature Châteauneuf-du-Pape, that sets it apart from any other wine south of Lyon. Jean-Jacques served this blind, and I actually guessed the vintage correctly due to its refined, floral appeal. I drank a few bottles of 1959 when they were around 15 years old, and consider it a top vintage from a hot, mainly dry, summer. Roger Sabon’s first wine on his own after the estate split between the two brothers Roger and Joseph of Clos du Mont Olivet. 2018-21  Dec 2006