2004 Domaine Mathieu Cuvée Marquis Anselme Mathieu Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Mission Codename: 400 Years of History… 125 Years of Vines

Operative: Agent White

Objective: Secure an exclusive allocation of a unique Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Domaine Mathieu

Wine Subject: 2004 Cuvée Marquis Anselme Mathieu

Winemaker: Andre Mathieu

Backgrounder:

Châteauneuf-du-Pape (CDP) is among this spy’s favorite Rhone wines. With each wine being a distinct blend of up to 13 different varietals (usually lead off with Grenache, France’s work-horse grape, with the trend leading to more Syrah and Mourvedre based blends). The name Châteauneuf-du-Pape dates back to the 14th century during the time of the dual papacy.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape comes in two distinct styles, the more traditional ’Old World’ (like this one) are dark, rich and spicy with firm tannins that lend these wines to cellaring; and the more contemporary fruit-forward style more reminiscent of New World wines.

This wine is 90% Grenache and made from vines that are over 125 years old, making this a truly unique old-world and old-vine classic. The 2004 vintage is just starting to fully develop and will continue to improve for years to come.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Clear dark garnet-red with pink and orange hues along the edges. When swirled, this wine appears slightly more viscous and slow thin legs grace the sides of the glass.

Smell – Well developed, medium in intensity and classically old-world in style, this wine’s bouquet leads off with spice, roasted herbs and floral lavender over a base of tart black fruit including black-cherry. Earthy notes and hints of wild fennel also emerge as you explore this wine’s deeply complex nose.

Feel – Full-bodied, smooth and dry and then this wine’s distinct minerality and spice hits. Fine grained but firm tannins and moderate acidity frame the warm feel and flavors.

Taste – Rich flavors of dark fruit including tart blackberry, black-cherry and hint of almost ripe plum that are well integrated with a complex array of dried herbs, floral lavender, wild fennel, toasted oak and spicy white pepper.

Finish – Medium long in length with lingering notes of its spicy pepper, fennel and tart fruit.

Conclusion – The 2004 Cuvée Marquis Anselme Mathieu is truly a unique and expressive old-world Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Spicy and rich, complex but well developed and integrated, this wine is the epitome of classic style. The Grenache in this wine (90%) comes from vines that are over 125 years old and the resulting wine has that distinctive old-vine character about it. This wine, with its earthy and spicy qualities is perfect for pairing with decadent raw-milk cheeses. We recommend letting this wine breathe for a little while to fully expose its complex nature.

Mission Report:

Dateline: July 18, 2008.

Location: Nimes, France, near the Rhône Valley

Agent Terroir had done an exceptional job of getting me to see a few of the great mountain finishes on this year’s Tour de France. After three spectacular days in the Pyrenees. We had loosely followed the tour through the South. Next stop the Alps, but we still had a few days and with the tour stopping in the historic town of Nimes, famous for its Roman vestiges, the Maison Carrée (Square House temple), Magne Tower, and Pont du Gard bridge it seemed like a goo point to take stock in our journey.

Tomorrow’s stage would take us to Digne-les-Bains, but now, only a few miles from the great wine village of Châteauneuf du Pape (CDP) I decided to make a short visit.

When I mentioned my intentions to Agent Terroir his eyes grew big and there was a noticeable feeling of excitement in his face. He had connections in Châteauneuf du Pape. One in particular, the historic Mathieu family with their century old vineyards in Châteauneuf du Pape. Domaine Mathieu has been in making wine here for over 400 years.

I was most interested in special Cuvée CDPs. They are among the most unique and varied, and yet surprisingly accessible wines of the southern Rhône. A quick drive and we had arrived at Domaine Mathieu where we were immediately greeted by Andre Mathieu, the winemaker. Before we knew it we were in the tasting room, surrounded by a dozen glasses each, tasting a great selection. Oh, how this job is tough…

The best of which was a flight of their 2004 Cuvée Marquis Anselme Mathieu. For those unfamiliar with these great wines, they can be any permutation of up to 13 different varietals, but are mostly lead off with the Rhône’s dominant grape, Grenache. In this case, Domaine Mathieu CDP is mostly Grenache, from vines originally planted in 1890 with Syrah and Mourvedre along with the other approved varietals and is made in the traditional old-world style.

If you love rich, full-bodied, dark and spicy wines, be sure to pick up a few bottles of this extremely limited exclusive wine.

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the Domaine Mathieu in Courthézon (Châteauneuf-du-Pape) can be seen in this satellite photo.

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