“I would highly recommend Le Vieux Donjon to anyone’s cellar."
"Domaine Vieux Donjon is another reference point estate for classic, traditionally made Châteauneuf-du-Pape. These rich, powerful wines are simply loaded with Provençal aromas and flavors of meaty black fruits, spice, and garrigue. Traditional Châteauneuf-du-Pape rarely gets better." Jeb Dunnuck
One of the very best value, traditionally-styled Châteauneuf du Papes is the brilliant Vieux Donjon. The Domaine is owned by Lucien and Marie José Michel, with the winemaking now firmly in the hands of their talented daughter, Claire Michel – who cut her teeth at California’s Harlan Estate before taking over the family business. The wine is made in a voluptuous, traditional, but beautifully concentrated style with the potential to age for 15 or more years, particularly in the top vintages; we have tasted mature examples which have retained beautiful shape, fruit and structure.
A third of their Grenache vines are over 100 years old, and having vineyards in different parts of Chateauneuf (Le Pied Long, Le Mourre de Gaud, Champigne and Cabrieres) and therefore in different terroirs (Rounded pebbles, sand, limestone, red sandstone) brings extra complexity. Some of their vines are even planted on sandy soil not too far from Chateau Rayas (see below map with Rayas in red and Vieux Donjon in yellow)!
The estate is organically farmed and using partially destemmed fruit is a key to bring fragrance and rusticity albeit polished way.
The particularity of Vieux-Donjon is that they produce only one red (a blend dominated by Grenache) and one white (50% Clairette, 50% Roussanne). In John Livingstone-Learmonth’s words “What joy! Just one wine, no special nonsense Cuvées.”
BI have a great selection of this legendary wine; the great 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 vintages are worth special consideration. If you like traditional Chateauneuf du pape, one could argue Vieux Donjon is the best bang for your buck. Especially when compared to the last vintage of Rayas released…