A Harlan Estate Alum’s Hyper-Focus in Châteauneuf
Winemaker Claire Michel is a second-generation winemaker from the Southern Rhône’s hallowed Châteauneuf-du-Pape, who honed her craft at Napa’s iconic Harlan Estate. She returned home fully equipped to tackle her family’s estate and the critics have taken notice. This 2014 Le Vieux Donjon Châteauneuf-du-Pape earned 92-94 points from Vinous, which called it “sweet, seamless and broad on the palate,” and “rich, but vibrant.” Couple that with praise from British Master of Wine Jancis Robinson who notes that the estate “follows the Clos des Papes model of being based right in the village and not wasting any wine on a special cuvée,” and has praised past vintages for its “richness,” and “flattering life.” This 2014 was crafted from 37 prime acres of Châteauneuf-du-Pape terroir, where 50- to 100-year-old vines thrive in sandy, well-draining soils. The result is a vibrant, concentrated expression of Châteauneuf teeming with “richness and layers of red fruit, dried herb and savory flavors,” says our own Matt Deller, Master of Wine. Don’t miss out.
There are no roadside signs directing you to Le Vieux Donjon as you travel down Route de Couthezon. Its unmarked cellar looks like a house perched near an asphalt road. Step inside the property, though, and you’ll see the Michel family hard at work, executing a tradition of excellence that’s been ongoing since patriarch Marcel Michel bottled their first vintage in 1966.
The region’s 2014 low-yielding vintage narrowed Claire’s already strict grape-sourcing focus even further. The 2014 Le Vieux Donjon’s brilliance highlights her ability to discover fruit at their apex regardless of harvest size. Elegant, complex, and seamless, this is Southern Rhône in its purest form.