Remarkable Red By The “Michel Rolland of the Rhône”
Of all the fantastic 2015s in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, one of the most remarkable was the work of Philippe Cambie at Domaine la Consonnière. Robert Parker’s Oenologist of the Year of 2010, Cambie has consulted on more 100-point wines (Clos Saint Jean, Saint Préfert, Colombis, Les Cailloux) than anyone in Châteauneuf-du-Pape history. He didn't need any more clients when Sébastien Cuscusa approached him in 2009, but when Cambie ran his fingers through the incredible sandy soils in which Consonnière vines are planted, he signed up. He recognized the sandy soils as the same as can be found at Château Rayas, the greatest Châteauneuf-du-Pape producer of all time. Luckily, today’s wine — at 94 points from Parker’s Wine Advocate, the highest-scored wine ever to come off of the estate — isn’t priced $500-$1,000 like Rayas or the other 100-point wines that Philippe has made. Wine Access has it for $39.99, the best price in the USA, but we only have 50 cases.
Those heralded sandy soils shared with Château Rayas can be found beneath Consonnière’s magnificent 100-year-old vines. The vineyards are situated in three lieux-dits within the village of Courthézon: Les Saintes Vierges, Pignan, and Font du Loup. The sandy soils create a rugged environment for old-vine Grenache, forcing vines to spider deep into the substrata in search of needed nutrients. This leads to striking complexity in the wine, with Red Burgundy-like elegance and crushed rock minerality accenting black raspberry, blueberry, and boysenberry. In 2015, the century-old vines responded to drought conditions by producing immensely concentrated, thick-skinned berries loaded with flavor.
Since 2009, winemaker Sébastien Cuscusa and consulting enologist Philippe Cambie have taken on all comers in neighboring Châteauneuf-du-Pape. In 2015, Cuscusa and Cambie finished neck-and-neck with the Châteauneuf elite, including Château La Nerthe ($120/bottle), Pierre Usseglio ($119), and Roger Sabon ($170)!