2016 Domaine Saint Prefert Chateauneuf Reserve Auguste Favier
Even though she’s only been at it a dozen years, winemaker Isabel Ferrando has earned from many the moniker Queen of Chateauneuf du Pape has her Domaine Saint Prefert wines have risen to the very top of the quality pyramid and have quickly become some of the most coveted in the appellation. Her wines are free-wheeling, flamboyant, easy to love and unfailingly elegant and polished. But what many missed in her incredibly powerful, just-this-side-of-over-the-top 2015s was the underlying early complexity and structure you normally sense in a Ferrando wine. Her lineup in the very important 2016 vintage, though, is as complete as we’ll ever see. They’re startlingly good. We’re starting, this year, from the top down- getting her top two cuvees first and the stunningly fine ‘regular’ cuvee of Chateauneuf du Pape later in the summer.
The Cuvee Reserve Auguste Favier is Grenache-based with Cinsault and Syrah making up the rest of the blend. Because all the grapes were thoroughly ripe in 2016 and the stems completely lignified (a rare occasion in the region), Ferrando included them in the fermentation in 2016 and they added a layer of complexity to the wine, creating one of the most exciting young Saint Preferts we’ve ever tried. It’s dark and dense with an incredible exotic perfume, great interior energy (the natural acidity is much higher in 2016 that either 2010 or 2015) and a delightful, long finish with hints of dark plums, summer blackberry bramble and smoky spice. It’s ravishing! You could drink it now with some deeply flavorful ribs off the grill or a great steak if you wanted to. I’m betting, though, it will hit its prime in another seven to ten years. And, yes, included in our allocation are a few precious bottles of Ferrando’s Collection Charles Giraud, the wine that put her on the map and mentioned in the same breath as the region’s greatest ever. It’s the 40% Mourvedre in the blend that adds those layers of dusky, tarry, peppery flavors and that amazing exotic ultra-dark chocolate nuance I’ve always found in the wine. Though we’ve not tasted the 2016 yet- and with our few bottles, I doubt we will- we’re betting it will be one of the wines of the vintage. Add one ($132.99) to your Auguste Favier and you’ll be styling in another decade! And look for Ferrando’s so-called ‘basic’ Chateauneuf du Pape in a few weeks.
James Molesworth- Wine Spectator:
The 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Auguste Favier Réserve is a 85/13/2 blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah, dark and winey in feel, with charcoal, Turkish coffee, anise-infused plum sauce and warm Black Mission fig flavors coursing through. A broad swath of graphite drives the finish. It's a large wine whose heft and breadth is matched by the finesse of its structure and the depth of its flavor…."The level of acidity in '16 is higher than '10 or '15, so the impression of the tannins is better, sweeter, than '10, and it shows the impression of less alcohol than '15," says Ferrando. Topping the portfolio, the 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Collection Charles Giraud is its typical 60/40 Grenache and Mourvèdre blend. It starts with Turkish coffee and baker's chocolate notes allied to a remarkably dense and lush yet integrated and polished set of fig paste and plum reduction fruit flavors. A roasted alder streak is emblazoned on the finish. Showing amazing depth and balance, it is one of the finest young Châteauneuf-du-Papes I've yet tasted in my time covering the Rhône….not scored yet.