Truly star quality: the little brother to Charvin's Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Truly star quality: the little brother to Charvin's Châteauneuf-du-Pape

I've been fortunate enough to try some brilliant wines recently. As a matter of fact, I advise you to have a quick look through our latest arrivals if you haven't done so for a while, where there is much that doesn't make it on to an email. But no other bottle has delivered such enjoyment for such a relatively modest price tag as Charvin's 2017 Côtes-du-Rhône.

Laurent Charvin's vineyards cover just eight hectares in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and fifteen in lower-lying areas around Maucoil and Champovin. The Châteauneuf-du-Pape vines are used to make a single, harmonious cuvée which is exceptional, but which needs time in the bottle to show its best. But the Côtes-du-Rhône is ready to drink on release, is made in almost exactly the same way as its bigger brother and is a truly star quality wine for the price.

Both this and the Châteauneuf come from old vines (in this case around 40 years), farmed organically to yield the best possible fruit. In the winery, everything is stripped right back to ensure that all the care taken in the vineyard shines through unadulterated. The wines are both aged in concrete vats (no oak, no sulphur) for 16-18 months in the case of the Côtes-du-Rhône (21 for the Châteauneuf). They are both bottled unfiltered, but lightly fined, with a tiny bit of sulphur added.

In short, the only difference between this wine and the pricier Châteauneuf is a little extra ageing, and of course the fruit itself, whose quality blazes through in both, but which in this takes a more immediately delicious form. It has a gorgeous upfront ripe red fruit character, overlaid on a backbone of finely judged tannin. It is equally good with or without food, and although it is lovely now you could certainly age it further.

All in all, it's such wonderful value that I enthusiastically sold what we had in the shop almost straight away and have just reordered. Fresh stock should be landing next week and is available to pre-order online now. Don't miss it.

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