Domaine Bois de Boursan, Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge "Tradition", 2016


Beautiful, traditional CdP imported by Neal Rosenthal. Classic spice, fruit, game and stony notes of Chateauneuf, with a finesse from fresh mountain air and herbs.

Here's how Neal described tasting Boursan's wines: 

[they] were impeccable and very much in the style that we sought … honest, without pretension, rich with the ripe, sweet tannins from the skins and pips of organically-grown grapes.

The Versino family works all thirteen of Chateauneuf's thirteen permitted grapes. Their vines are old; on average they're older than fifty. They work without chemical fertilizers or pesticides. The winemaking is super-traditional too: no de-stemming, long, slow cuvaison (3+weeks) before elevage in wood of varying size (eighteen+ months). This is real deal CdP.

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Domaine Bois de Boursan

Chateauneuf du Pape is the Southern Rhone’s great wine. The top producers are expensive. Actually, the top producers are crazy expensive. And the cheap CdPs that the large operations make for French grocery stores are generally no fun to drink: overwrought and over-priced Cotes du Rhone. But there is a middle path! Bois de Boursan is great, legit stuff. And it's reasonably priced. In fact, it’s so cheap for what it is, it’s fairer to say it’s unreasonably priced. But we’ll take it. What makes the domaine so great? It starts, as always, with the terroir and the old vines (35-115 years, though the oldest vines go in their VV cuvée). They have a mix of 80% clay/chalk soils (giving depth and limestone texture) and sandy soils giving bright, red-berried fruit. The wind and wild herbs give it the famous garrigue aromatics of rosemary and herbes de provence. The vigneron, Jean-Paul Versino, has barely modernized anything. The farming is organic and the harvest is by hand. He ferments this wine almost entirely in concrete (there is a little stainless steel), whole cluster and with natural yeasts. He ages it in large, old wood, uses very little sulfur, and doesn’t fine or filter. This is unapologetically old fashioned wine: elegant, sure, but also grippy and wild and loads of fun. If it also sounds surprisingly like a “natural wine,” we agree. And it probably won’t surprise you to know that Louis/Dressner, New York’s pathbreaking natural wine importer, carried the wine before Rosenthal picked it up. And therein lies a great lesson: the hippest of techniques can make the most traditional of wines when perfectly executed on top-flight material.