Chateauneuf-du-Pape visits II: Domaine de Cristia

Following the nice visit at Domaine Grand Veneur, I also had an appointment at Domaine de Cristia this May. Time was short, but I won’t complain – I was blown away, and not just by the wines.

I was greeted by Dominique Grangeon, who showed me around the winery and told the story of this family owned domaine. She is such a humble lady, I enjoyed every minute I spent there. Here all customers and visitors are treated with equal respect (a couple from Paris joined us at some point, they also got the full attention of Dominique), the experience is very different from what you get when dropping by big and recognized producers (even though Domaine de Cristia is highly regarded as well). When she learnt that I am a Grenache-fan, she opened some extra bottles she found, as they have a few wines made purely from this variety.

There is a properly set up tasting room near the cellar, where we tasted the wines. Though I’m not a fan of scoring at producers, this time I felt it reasonable, regarding the ideal conditions (seated tasting, clean room etc). I could also try the wines of Chapelle St. Theodoric, which is project with the well known American importer Peter Weygandt.

Domaine de Cristia Cotes du Rhone Vieilles Vignes 2017

100% Grenache. A modern, fruit-driven and smooth style of Cotes du Rhone, but shows the classic garrigue and strawberry profile. Polished, silken on the palate, finishing with ripe tannins. 88 points.

Domaine de Cristia Chateauneuf du Pape 2017

Recently bottled (in April), needs air to open, it’s still embryonic. Quite structured, well proportioned.

Domaine de Cristia Chateauneuf du Pape 2016

Compared to the 2017, this one is already approachable. Again, a modern, polished, sweetly fruited style. Instantly recognizable as a CdP, showing aromas of ripe strawberries, with a pleasant touch of rubber (quite typical in Southern Rhone reds). Silken smooth texture, soft, perhaps a bit too sweet? Lightly extracted, tannins are moderated too – you can drink this already. 90 points.

Domaine de Cristia Chateauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes 2016

Grenache at its best. Opulent but not overdone or sweet. An explosion of lush Grenache fruit, combining black currants with strawberries and some raisins, retaining freshness too. Smooth entry on the palate with pleasant sweetness, then it gets tight and dry on the finish, seemingly with the help of the alcohol, so that 15% actually fits the wine. Stunning wine, and one of the very best Grenaches I have ever tasted. To my question when to open a Chateauneuf, Dominique’s answer was “starting from 7 years old”, but here she noted: “this one, the pure Grenache can be opened already”. I also think it’s perfectly ready now. 95 points.

Domaine de Cristia Chateauneuf du Pape Renaissance 2016

40% Mourvedre, 60% Grenache. You can definitely taste the Mourvedre component here, there is a wild, gamey edge to the nose, a massive structure, more density to the palate. So serious. Enormous depth, but no heaviness. Not ready yet, Dominique says it should be put away and open only when it reached the age of seven years. I believe her. Candidate for a high nighties score.

Chapelle St. Theodoric Chateauneuf du Pape La Guigasse 2016

Made with whole clusters, 100% Grenache. A completely different character, which is amazing regarding it’s made in the same cellar, by the same winemaker. Captivating, less obvious, almost Burgundy-like in comparison. Built differently too, acidity is livelier, tannins are stem-like, drying, and extraction seems lighter. Some animalistic notes strengthen the old school-traditional feel. Exciting wine. 94 points.

Chapelle St. Theodoric Chateauneuf du Pape Les Sablons 2016

This represents my dream Chateauneuf du Pape, as far as style goes. It might be a bit less concentrated than La Guigasse, but it’s more elegant and approachable – and a lot cheaper. This is how classic CdP should look like, in my view. So bright and lively. I love this. 93 points.

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