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2020 M. Chapoutier Chateauneuf du Pape Barbe Rac

2020 M. Chapoutier Chateauneuf du Pape Barbe Rac

98+ JD


Sokolin Notes:
From One of the World's Greatest Winemakers

From the critics:

94 JS

93 DEC

Featured Review
One of the gems in the vintage is the 2020 Châteauneuf Du Pape Barbe Rac, a 100% Grenache that was destemmed and brought up all in concrete tanks. Darker berries, ground pepper, graphite, and savory garrigue are just some of its nuances, and this beauty is full-bodied, has a layered, seamless mouthfeel, ripe tannins, and an awesome finish. It's a brilliant bottle of wine that readers will love. It deserves 3-4 years of bottle age and will shine over the following two decades. Bravo. Jeb Dunnuck

Jeb Dunnuck | 98+ JD

Critic Reviews

One of the gems in the vintage is the 2020 Châteauneuf Du Pape Barbe Rac, a 100% Grenache that was destemmed and brought up all in concrete tanks. Darker berries, ground pepper, graphite, and savory garrigue are just some of its nuances, and this beauty is full-bodied, has a layered, seamless mouthfeel, ripe tannins, and an awesome finish. It’s a brilliant bottle of wine that readers will love. It deserves 3-4 years of bottle age and will shine over the following two decades. Bravo.

Jeb Dunnuck | 98+ JD
A seductive 100% grenache with cherries, mixed berries, licorice and sweet spices on the nose. Full body with creamy tannins. Round and velvety with a caressing touch of strawberries and raspberries at the center. It has volume and texture with a succulent and precise long finish. From biodynamically grown grapes with Demeter certification. Drink or hold.

James Suckling | 94 JS
There’s an appealing high-toned spice over the very ripe blackberry fruit here, like star anise. Very rounded and generous, but with some good intensity and freshness at its core. Concentrated and ripe but with good acidity. The alcohol is warming on the finish, but it’s not overly unbalanced. A fruity and immediate style of Barbe Rac.

Decanter | 93 DEC

Wine Details for 2020 M. Chapoutier Chateauneuf du Pape Barbe Rac

Type of Wine Rhone Red
Varietal Grenache : The vast and complex world of grape varietals is wondrous, fascinating and somewhat baffling. The how and why certain varietals either prosper or fail in winegrowing regions around the world is interesting; varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon thrive in extremely gravely soils, while Merlot finds success in rich clay. The Grenache grape variety is no exception. It excels in some of the most “inhospitable” soils and climates; inhospitable perhaps for anything but the wonderful Grenache grape. It seems adaptable to harsher climates and terroir and when at its best can produce one of the most concentrated and alcohol laden wines.

Grenache (or Garnacha as it is called in Spain) is believed to have originated from the north-eastern Spanish province of Aragon. The varietal first spread south and east, to Catalonia, Rioja and Navarra. It expanded greatly throughout the 12th-17th century, to Corsica, Sardinia, Southern Italy, Sicily, Croatia and even Greece. It was first planted in France in the Languedoc region in the 18th century and eventually its arrival to Rhone in the 19th century. The worldwide expansion of Grenache was inevitable and would eventually find its way to Australia, South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Provence and America. It was first introduced to California by Charles Lefranc, a prominent Santa Clara winegrower, in 1857.

Today, Grenache is one of the most popular and widely cultivated grape varietals in the world covering 163,000 hectares world-wide. It has been used in a myriad of ways and has been both, the workhorse and backbone in blending but also as a single-varietal. It is undoubtedly the magical component of the infamous Chateauneuf-Du-Pape appellation of France where a sea of Grenache grape vines grace the vineyards. Though there are 13 allowable varietals permitted by law in the AOC (controlled designation of origin), Grenache makes up 70-75% of all grapes grown in the appellation. It flourishes in a terroir of large stones, crystalline rocks, quartz, sandstone and the famous ‘galets roules’ (large round stones found throughout Southern Rhone). Chateau Rayas, which produces, perhaps the truest expression of Chateauneuf-Du-Pape is composed of 100% Grenache. Due to grape’s thin skin, the wine of Rayas is reminiscent to the color of red Burgundy offerings.

In Provence, Grenache is widely used in the blending of Rose wines. The great Sasha Lichine, of Chateau D’Esclans, who revolutionized the rose industry uses Grenache as the primary blending agent in his fleet of Rose. The grape’s phenolic qualities, ageability and character have lent to the success of D’Esclans, as his Garrus is the world’s most renowned, prestigious rose wine, while his Whispering Angel is the top-selling French rose in the United States.

In California, Grenache has taken on “new life” as it has found great success in the last 20-some years. New World winemakers and growers have adopted the grape (along with Syrah), producing what is referred to as “Rhone Rangers.” Manfred Krankl of Sine Qua Non and Alban Vineyards may be some of the finest examples of Grenache in California. Alban vineyards was the first important California winery to produce single-vineyard “Rhone” varietals, beginning a craze among other vintners as well as consumers. Krankl has fashioned ethereal wines from 100% Grenache that rival the greatest expression of Grenache in the world, earning him the title “California Cult” producer.

The varietal’s birthplace and most of Spain’s winegrowing regions have enjoyed great success with Grenache (Garnacha), where the varietal thrives in its natural elements of the hot and windy Mediterranean valleys. It ripens late with a long hang-time, so it needs hot, dry conditions. The long and deep roots are well suited to water stress, allowing for super concentrated flavors and aromas, especially with old vines. Spain has some of the finest Garnacha offerings as well as some of the least expensive in the world.

The incredible adaptability to areas of such inhospitable, dry and infertile soils is a mystical quality of Grenache. The world has been granted a gift, one that suits every budget and nearly every palate. From Chateauneuf-Du-Pape to Rose, to Cotes-Du-Rhone to Spanish Garnacha, the varietal has certainly earned its spot on the top of hot list.

Country France : Wine is the lifeblood that courses through the country of France, pulsing with vigorous pride and determination. Viticulture is not just a hobby or an occupation in France; it is a passion, a cherished tradition that has been passed down through generations of wine stained hands. Winemaking is a beloved art that has been ingrained in the culture, an aptitude instilled in sons by fathers and the hallmark for which France’s reputation was built, allowing it to be renowned as, arguably, the most important wine producing country in the world.

For centuries, France has been producing wines of superior quality and in much greater quantity than any other country in the world. It boasts some of the most impressive wine regions, coveted vineyards and prestigious wines on earth. The regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Sauternes and Champagne have become the benchmark, for which others aspire to become. Legendary producers such as Chateaux Margaux, Domaine De La Romanee Conti, Chapoutier, d’Yquem and Dom Perignon are idolized world-wide.

France has stamped its name on nearly every style of wine, from the nectar-like sweet Sauternes to hedonistic Chateauneuf Du Papes classic Bordeaux and Burgundy, to its sparkling dominance in Champagne. Many of the most infamous grape varietals in the world, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay originated in France and are not only beloved, but utilized in the creation of some of the greatest wines on earth. French wine production commands the attention of the wine market year after year. With over 860,000 hectares under vine, and numbers close to 50 million hectoliters of wine produced annually, France dominates the market and sets the standard for not only product quality, but also quantity.

France’s many contributions to the world of wine have been absolutely indispensable. The country is the originator of the term “Premier Cru,” coined the term Terroir (a French term so complex there is no literal translation) and has laid the blueprint for a structured appellation system, which others have implemented in their own countries. French vineyard techniques and winemaking practices are mimicked world-wide. California vintners have been replicating Rhone style wines for decades, South America has adopted the French varietal of Malbec and countries around the world are imitating Burgundian styled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

With vast diversity in terroir, France is home to some of the most hospitable winegrowing locations on earth. The combination of topography, geology, climate, rainfall and even the amount of sunlight combined with the long historical tradition of winegrowing and making, has allowed the vintners of France to not only hone their skills, but learn from nature to create a product that like the world in which it resides… is very much alive.

Region Rhone : While the Northern Rhone produces only about 5% of all wine coming out of the Rhone Valley, the quality of these bottles is not to be underestimated. The terroir in this region is heavenly for growing Syrah, Viognier, Marsanne or Rousanne - the only permitted grapes in the AOC. Picture this - the Rhone flows through the valley like an azure thread piercing the landscape, a reflection of the dreamy skies hovering above the vineyards, ready to produce rainfall at a moment's notice. The rocky soil of the steep, almost surreal hillsides provides a bountiful feast for the grapevine roots. The flavors and texture of Northern Rhone wines tell you everything you need to know as soon as your lips touch the elixir, like a whisper in the vigorous valley winds

As per the Southern Rhone wine, it is like taking a plunge into a whirlpool of juicy flavor. Every sip explodes forward like a crashing tsunami, bathing your tastebuds in delicious aromas of prune, chocolate, grass, and black fruit. The wines are so compelling that it can be hard to drink them casually at a social event without getting lost in their intricate textures and emotional depths. Let's set sail together, and drink deep from these luxurious bottles with our friends and loved ones.
Subregion Southern Rhone
Appellation Chateauneuf Du Pape


Producer M. Chapoutier : There is something special about a winemaker who claims, “I fall head over heels every day of my life.” Michel Chapoutier is a wine lover, a life lover. Whether it is a book, a painting or wine, Michel Chapoutier falls in love ten times per day. This passion is conveyed through his artistic and affectionate approach at the multitude of endeavors he undertakes daily. He is unique, unconventional, curious, enthusiastic and selfless. A farmer who is close to the earth on a quest for revealing terroirs and finding the expressions of soils through the taste of wines.

Chapoutier is one of the most recognized and respected names in Rhone. Though the premises in Tain l’Hermitage has been in existence since 1808, it was the mind and extraordinary efforts of Michel Chapoutier that have catapulted the quality of wines bearing his family name to elite status. Since taking over the business in 1989, he has been quite “disruptive,” given his inability to conform to principals of the past and preconceived ideas which allowed a temporary demise of the estate in the late 1980’s. Upon taking control he immediately implemented changes that would challenge traditional winemaking, sourcing of grapes and the terroir in which to plant. He would also implement biodynamic and organic harvesting.

He is a firm believer that winemaking begins with respect. Respect for the terroir, the unique equation between soil, climate, and human talent. Respect for the earth by anticipating its needs, for the plant and fruit until the harvest and for the consumers whether they are connoisseurs or not. He insists that without respect, wine has no soul. His respectful and generous personality is a welcome and refreshing trademark that is well known by colleagues.

Chapoutier believes that without generosity, the creation of wine would be senseless, for wine is meant to be shared. Generosity is a form of expression that encourages, initiates and dares, enriching the wine when consumed. An example of this generosity can be witnessed simply by looking at the label, which is inscribed with braille. Since 1996, every bottle of M. Chapoutier has been imprinted with braille; paying tribute to the man responsible for its invention, Maurice Monier de la Sizeranne who is also the founder of Valentin Hauy Association. This extraordinary and unprecedented feat by Monier helped bring the blind and visually challenged out of isolation. One of Chapoutier’s labels even carries his name which is produced from a plot which Monier’s father owned, who was a vintner himself. This is Chapoutier’s way of giving back to someone who made a real contribution.

Chapoutier is not only a grower, but a negociant who has diligently pursued the best terroirs in not only Hermitage but other Rhone appellations including Roussillon, Cotes-Du-Rhone, and Chateauneuf-Du-Pape and has extended his influence to terroir hotspots around the globe including, Portugal, Australia, Alsace and Spain. Through his extensive efforts, Chapoutier is now able to offer a wine at nearly every price range from inexpensive Cotes-Du-Rhones to his beloved single vineyard plot selections from his own estate.

Though Chapoutier produces wines which blend varieties such as his Cotes-Du-Rhones, he is a proponent of single varietal bottlings, insisting that blending does not necessarily develop complexity but instead gives credit to the soil structure, whether it is the acidity or the bacterial levels. For instance, his highly coveted single vineyard whites such as Le Meal and Les Greffieux are both 100% Marsanne. He prefers not to use or include Roussanne due to its sensitivity to oxidation, as he wishes his wines to age. His preference of Burgundy and how complex and elegant the wine is able to be fashioned with a single variety is much more impressive than the wines of Bordeaux, he insists. Chapoutier has implemented this ideal in many of his estate wines with great success including his 100% Syrah L’Ermite and Le Pavillon,

Chapoutier produces an astonishing portfolio of wines that encompasses some of the greatest terroir in the world, from Hermitage to Chateauneuf-Du-Pape, Australia to Portugal. The multitude of varieties planted are both impressive and too long to list. However, if a label carries the M. Chapoutier name, it is guaranteed to be of tremendous quality whether it is found on the bottom rack in a wine shop or acquired by collectors through auction. Each bottling is sure to be an expression of passion, generosity and an unrivaled respect for the land where the grapes are born and bred with love. A love that is meant to be shared and enjoyed.

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