From €29.12, £31, HK$320, $47, 48 Swiss francs, CA$59.95, 375 Danish krone
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Since Sunday is Father's Day for so many visitors to JancisRobinson.com I was determined to recommend a suitable wine to give fathers today. I played around with various wines with 'Papa' and even 'Dada' in their name before plumping for a Châteauneuf-du-Pape. I know that the Pape of Châteauneuf is the papal father but it struck me that a Châteauneuf with its easy, rich, spicy appeal and indisputable substance and authority would be an appropriate choice as a respectful Father's Day gift.
I used the many options available in our tasting notes search to look through our nearly 84,000 reviews to find a Châteauneuf that scored at least 17.5 out of 20 and is already ready to enjoy. Le Vieux Donjon 2009 Châteauneuf-du-Pape seemed an ideal choice - mainly because I love the producer, which follows the Clos des Papes model of being based right in the village and not wasting any wine on a special cuvée, and I love the wine.
This particular 2009 red has none of the drying tannins that characterise so many of its peers from this landmark southern Rhône appellation and has been made with the sort of gentle hand you would expect of Claire Michel (who once worked at super-smooth Harlan Estate of Napa Valley as well as in the marketing department of Boisset of Burgundy). I noted this wine's richness, flattering life and easy accessibility already, although I think it will still be fun to drink until about 2022.
But the 'Vieux' (old) also seems appropriate for a gift to an older generation, and of course if your father is called Don or Jon…. Note, however, that the alcoholic strength is a good 15% - as is the way of so many wines from this sun-baked appellation nowadays. See the controversial Michel Chapoutier's recent comments on how many of the wines are improved by the addition of water, and be sure to tell your father to drink this slowly, sharing it with you over a fine meal of robust food.
(The appellation is characterised by extremely varied soil types and I'm delighted to say that a new addition to the forthcoming seventh edition of The World Atlas of Wine, due out in October, is a detailed soil map of the region.)
Like many Châteauneufs, this wine is widely distributed. Good old wine-searcher.com came up with no fewer than six pages of stockists around the world, including dozens in the US and all over Europe but also as far afield as Hong Kong and Singapore. In the UK, Yapp Bros is the prime importer and the one with the best price, £31 a bottle, although it is widely available by the dozen from the fine-wine traders (from £250 a dozen in bond at Albany Vintners) and is also stocked by the single bottle by R&B Wines, Noel Young and Berry Bros.
And if you are a father yourself, you might like to drop a whacking great hint.
(Incidentally, Googling Vieux Donjon will not take you to any website for the property but will present you with several references for a gay naturist hotel near Paris whose reviews on TripAdvisor are rivetingly critical.)
Added at 10.30am - Jason Yapp, son of the dentist founder of UK wine importer Yapp Bros, has just written to me, 'Thanks very much for that recommendation – I had just written out a card for my dad & now have the bottle to accompany it!' I wrote back suggesting that in his case, this wine would be more appropriate.
Added on 15 June - Apparently this wine of the week was also a wine of the Master of Wine week in that it featured in the red wine blind tasting paper of last week's MW exams, as revealed to the candidates yesterday. Small world.
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