Arguably the most well-known of the Southern Rhône’s crus, the name Châteauneuf-du-Pape translates to “new home of the Pope.” It references a time in the early 14th century when Pope John XXII built a summer castle in the area, the remains of which are still found in the main village in France.
Today, more than 90% of the region’s production is red wines. Grenache is the key grape in Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines though many bottlings also feature Syrah and Mourvèdre.
However, when making Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines, producers can formulate cuvées from any of the appellation’s 13 permitted grape varieties. The best iterations are richly fruited and opulent, but maintain finessed structure and elegance.
Here are some of the top scoring wines from the latest released vintage.
Domaine de la Janasse 2016 Vieilles Vignes Red (Châteauneuf-du-Pape); $114, 99 points. Buxom and heady, this is a delightfully rich, hedonistic blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. Sun-drenched mulberry and black cherry flavors are explosive on the palate yet it’s an elegantly extracted, surprisingly charming wine edged with nuances of violet, dried thyme and earth. The tannins are soft in feel, making it hard to resist young, but there’s plenty of time for improvement here too. European Cellars. Editors’ Choice. –Anna Lee C. Iijima
Guillaume Gonnet 2016 La Muse Red (Châteauneuf-du-Pape); $88, 97 points. This juicy, fruit-forward wine drenches the palate with black-currant, mulberry and plum flavors. Made from 90% Grenache, it’s luscious and mouth clinging but framed by firm, densely packed tannins. A tinge of dried thyme lingers on the finish. Already appealing for its amplified fruit it should gain elegance through 2030. Misa Imports. Editors’ Choice. –A.I.
Château de Vaudieu 2016 Val de Dieu Red (Châteauneuf-du-Pape); $90, 96 points. Fragrances of vanilla, smoke and violet amplify bold blackberry and plum in this bombastic red wine. A blend of 64% Grenache, 28% Syrah and 8% Mourvèdre, it’s a rich, densely textured wine with a lingering finish marked by Bourbon and coffee notes. Appealing already for its flash, it should gain elegance from 2021 and improve through 2040. Eric Solomon Selections. –A.I.
Domaine de la Charbonnière 2016 Mourre des Perdrix Red (Châteauneuf-du-Pape); $50, 96 points. Intensely ripe layers of blackberry and cherry mingle into coffee, anise and earth in this deeply fruity yet nuanced wine. It’s full bodied and lusciously textured but framed by firm, gripping tannins that should meld better by 2021. Bold, explosive fruit is appealing now but should gain finesse through 2036 and likely hold further. Roanoke Valley Wine Company. Cellar Selection. –A.I.
Domaine de la Mordorée 2016 La Dame Voyageuse Red (Châteauneuf-du-Pape); $60, 96 points. Made from 90% Grenache, this luscious but freshly composed wine offers profound blackberry and blueberry flavors marked by vanilla, smoke and char. Opulent fruit is balanced by a crisp mineral undertone and firm, finely edged tannins. It drinks beautifully already but should improve through 2030. Kysela Père et Fils. –A.I.
Tardieu-Laurent 2016 Cuvée Spéciale Red (Châteauneuf-du-Pape); $80, 96 points. Aromas of blackberry and mulberry are shaded by ripe bramble and spice in this robustly concentrated Grenache. Intensely fruity and forward now, it has a thrilling spine of acidity and lingering mineral tones that suggests a long future. Very fine but firm tannins frame the finish. Europvin USA. Cellar Selection. –A.I.
Cellier des Princes 2016 Blason du Prince Red (Châteauneuf-du-Pape); $35, 93 points. Pristine black cherry and raspberry are perfumed by notes of rosemary, anise and earth in this Grenache-dominant blend. Supple and concentrated, it maintains a mineral freshness that overrides any perception of heft or overextraction. Fine-grained, grippy tannins lend structure. Opulent fruit flavors are approachable now but should drink well through 2030. USA Wine Imports. –A.I.
Kirkland Signature 2016 Cuvée de Nalys Red (Châteauneuf-du-Pape); $18, 92 points. Made by Domaine de Nalys, one of Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s most storied estates, this unbeatable value also offers more nuance than previous vintages. Ripe, plush blackberry and blueberry notes are edged by smoke, bramble, pepper and licorice. It’s round and luscious, boasting soft, integrated tannins and delicate acidity, but maintains a welcome mineral freshness, too. Although ready now, it should gain savory complexities through 2025. DC Flynt MW Selections. Editors’ Choice. –A.I.
La Bastide Saint Dominique 2016 Red (Châteauneuf-du-Pape); $37, 92 points. Whiffs of preserved black cherry and strawberry are charming in this wine that also has a savory backbone of crushed earth and stone extending from nose to palate. It’s a fleshy, supple wine brightened fresh black-fruit flavors and edged by fine, well-integrated tannins. Approachable already the wine should hold well through 2028. Simon N Cellars. –A.I.
Rémy Ferbras 2016 Terre de Mistral Red (Châteauneuf-du-Pape); $40, 92 points. Equal parts fruit and savory, this full-bodied red offers loads of pristinely ripe cherry and berry flavors offset by hints of soy sauce, earth and graphite. It’s a silky, supple sip balanced by fresh mineral tones and ripe, integrated tannins. Ready now it should improve through 2026. Prestige Beverage Group. –A.I.