2019 Châteauneuf-du-Pape from Lelektsoglou : 99 points, JD - 'the closest thing to an older Rayas'

2019 Châteauneuf-du-Pape from Lelektsoglou :
99 points, JD - 'the closest thing to an older Rayas'

This is something unusual and completely new to me.
Georges Lelektsoglou, perhaps unsurprisingly known as ‘The Greek’ in the sleepy northern Rhône town of Tain L’Hermitage is a well-known caviste, or wine merchant, who sells wines from a raft of famous domaines. What is perhaps less well-known, certainly outside the region, is that Georges blends some cuvées of his own, including this Lieu-Dit Pignan from a parcel of vines next to the vineyard of Château Rayas, perhaps the most famous of all Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
The French term ‘lieu-dit’ refers to a named vineyard area. The lieu-dit of Pignan lies to the north of the vast Châteaunuef-du-Pape appellation and has a distinctive soil with a high proportion of sand. This means these are very dry soils, into which the vine needs to sink its roots deep to survive. I have always been fascinated by Grenache, the dominant grape variety of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, when grown on the sandier soils; it seems to change the aromatic profile, providing more lift and freshness, but it also brings finesse to the palate, despite no lack of depth, but rather a seamless quality to the texture.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape is not one homogenous style; the blend of varieties, the winemaking and, crucially, the individual terroir lead to myriad different styles, and yet it must be the wine style about which there is the most generalisation. It is a region that I have been fascinated by for as long as I can remember, and one in which it is still possible to discover entirely new things as well as remarkable value.
I have followed Jeb Dunnuck’s notes on the wines of the Rhône valley ever since he started publishing ‘The Rhône Report’, long before he joined The Wine Advocate; he has since left to set up his own review website jebdunnuck.com. His notes on Châteauneuf-du-Pape have never led me astray and I like the descriptive nature of his tasting notes. I haven’t tasted Georges Lelektsoglou’s ‘lieu-dit Pignan 2019’, but I certainly will do so, given the note below. Based on Jeb’s glowing endorsement, I am more than happy to take the plunge! The comparison to older Rayas is high praise indeed…
I believe we are the only merchant in Europe to be offering this newly reviewed, small production wine.
2019 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Lieu-Dit Pignan, Georges Lelektsoglou
£390 per 6 bottle case in bond

99 points, Jeb Dunnck, jebdunnuck.com
The finest example of this cuvée I’ve ever tasted, the 2019 Châteauneuf du Pape Lieu-Dit Pignan comes from sandy soils bordering Rayas and, I believe, was brought up in tank. It might be the closest thing to an older Rayas (which were more concentrated and opulent than today’s wines) with its deep ruby/purple hue as well as insanely good aromatics of kirsch, wild strawberries, flowery incense, Provencal spice, candied orange, and garrigue. Full-bodied, ethereal, deep, and multi-dimensional on the palate, it builds with time in the glass and has ultra-fine tannins, flawless balance, and a thrilling finish. If you get a chance, buy it. 2021-2029

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