Hello friends. We’ve already offered a number of terrific wines from the outrageous 2015 vintage in Europe, but today’s may wind up as our finest value of the year; a baby Chateauneuf-du-Pape for a dozen dollars:
2015 Jean Royer Le Petit Roy
The lowest price I see online for this wine is 14.98, and even if we were offering it for fifteen bucks, I’d be talking it up as a great value. At our price today (which we secured by committing to a metric truckload), it’s run-don’t-walk territory.
I don’t toss around the term “Baby Chateauneuf” lightly. Nor do I toss it around often. Looking back at the archives, I believe I’ve only used it for two wines: La Chaussynette from Mas de Boislauzon, and Renjarde’s Massif d’Uchaux. That these are two of our most popular import wines of all time should probably tell you something.
Some Baby CdPs take a lot of explaining. Not so much this one, since Jean Royer is himself a Chateauneuf-du-Pape producer. Since 1985, he has been crafting well-regarded, well-reviewed CdPs in more of an old-school style than the newer, blowsier CdPs currently in vogue. There’s also a (thin) Washington connection here. Royer’s pal, fellow rugby enthusiast, and jet-setting oenologist Phillipe Cambié is also the consulting oenologist working with Ste Michelle on the Tenet Wines (we’ve offered their outstanding Pundit Syrah a couple times).
Petit Roy is a blend of declassified barrels of Royer Chateauneuf, along with concrete tank-aged parcels from his vines just outside the boundary of the AOC. It’s about as close to CdP as you can get without being allowed to put it on the label. In any regular vintage, that’s a recipe for good value. In 2015, it’s off the charts.
This blend of Grenache (mostly), Syrah (some), and Mourvedre and Alicante (dollops) clocks in at 14.5% listed alc and begins with a nose that puts you in the southern Rhone immediately: brambly raspberry, loads of dust and dried garrigue, and appealing hot-rock minerality. In the mouth, this conveys wonderful richness and intensity without ever putting on too much weight. It has something to offer both wine-drinking crowds: outright pleasure for the don’t-think-too-much chuggers, and sneaky complexity for the contemplative types. I would love to slip this into a blind flight of $30-$50 Chateauneuf-du-Pape and watch it dazzle. For ribs on the grill this summer; for roasts and braises when the weather turns cold; for a killer mid-week house red that will turn heads, this is a go-to bottle.
It would also be a killer summer-into-autumn party/wedding wine, so let’s open it up: first come first served up to 240 bottles, and the wine should arrive in a week or two, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.