Last night I opened a bottle of Domaine de Cristia's Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2003 to go with my sausages (someone once told me they made the perfect pair - I've never been entirely convinced but I'm always happy to give it a try). The particular bottle came from the heatwave vintage so it's drinking better at a relatively young age than, say, a 2001. The wine is incredibly rich with a lovely sweetness to the fruit (but it is in no way a sweet wine) and it really lingers. There seems to be a whiff of oak, not much but just enough to give the wine a bit of structural support and lend another dimension to the flavour profile. For me, though, the really great thing about the wine is the texture: full, rich and velvet-smooth.
The moratorium is over. Decanter’s December issue has been published and I can announce our successes in the recent tasting undertaken by their Rhône expert, Matt Walls who has recently returned from a year and a half in the region. If you look on Decanter.com today (November 2020), you will see a link to ‘Top Côtes du Rhône wines under £20’. What the article doesn’t tell you is that the brief of its writer was to taste and rate wines from across the valley in that price range and that the top scoring white wine was actually a Ventoux. No prizes for guessing that it was Château Juvenal’s 2019 ‘Ribes de Vallat’ Blanc , awarded 91 points, which, at £12.60 is also the best value of any of the white wines on the list: 'From 30- to 40-year-old vines grown on granite south-facing slopes; half of the wine is matured for six months in demi-muid leaving no overt oakiness to the aromatics. Full-bodied, rich and opulent style, very ripe and fulsome. Some mango and pineapple juice. Unmist