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CNDP over rated over hyped?


#1

At my anniversary party one guest/friend who is a serious oeniphile was asking me about Rhone wines as he has a substantial collection.
The discussion which he had the most to say on the subject as I have knowledge of only part of the area was on CNDP a wine I have drunk very little of over the years.
His surmise followed a discussion he had with a well known merchants buyer at a tasting who proffered up that he believed that CNDP has not lived up to the hype generally and it was because everybody has heard of it that merchants and wineries were getting away with a lot of sub standard wines on the back of good marketing of a well known product.

The truth is you could say that about most well known regions everywhere, but I think what was being implied was that CNDP is being sold more on the area name than most other regions and the supermarkets are discounting many of them even better known producers.
It could be that so many of the bigger producers in the Rhone have their fingers in many pies all over the region, Guigal is an example of someone whose products are based on quality but he grows every year and is now a conglomerate, can you keep up the standard when you get that big on so many fronts and are supplying supermarkets with ever more wine.

Of course many of the big conglomerates world wide do manage to keep up a high standard within what they are producing, but someone like Guigal, and I use him as an example not as the only one are really or were high end producers of a large portfolio of wines now even bigger and using an awful lot of bought in grapes.
Guigal has recently purchased an old CNDP estate so is now serious about having a slice of that cake as well as all the others.

Back to the conversation, because it jogged my mind as to having seen this year CNDP from the likes of Perrin and Ogier and others on supermarket shelves, you have to be of a certain size to supply supermarkets and how much expansion was necessary to fulfil those quotas or do they buy in more grapes.
As I said at the start I am not qualified enough to give an answer only some outside input, but it is very noticeable how the largely overlooked satelite areas Gigondas, Vacqueras etc are on the rise not just on sales because they are cheaper but also the recognition of the value they represent as quality wines.
Even areas like the Ventoux are producing some very good wines now, TWS have a few and I can vouch for them, CNDP is going to stay out in front , the name is to well recognised but are they resting on their laurels, some seem to think so.


#2

I remember being quite interested in TWS’s comment in their region notes: “Word of caution: Châteauneuf produces as much wine as the whole of the northern Rhône put together. A third is very good, a third acceptable and the last third, undrinkable.”

Which would suggest that there is a lot of stuff coming out of CNDP that will be, shall we say, a little less impressive than might have been expected. With my lack of knowledge this means that I now avoid CNDP unless I trust the seller, which, I’m glad to say, I generally do with TWS! And the CNDPs I have had from TWS have all been good. Whereas the couple I’ve bought from French supermarkets in the past I’d hesitate to even use in cooking.


#3

Ventoux has the largest production of the “others” I believe when CNDP is taken out of the mix. I’ve had some lovely reds and rosés from ventoux where production appears to be dominated by co-ops. The large diurnal temperature swings really help the grapes to develop nicely .
I agree with your comments @cerberus about CNDP. Its such a large area and with 13 grape varieties allowed in the blend there will of course be badly made wines and promotion of these under the CNDP reputation.


#4

Over rated over hyped and over here!


#5

I totally agree @MikeFranklin. TWS CDNP that I have drank have mostly been excellent. I can’t remember drinking a decent one from a supermarket and it’s something I avoid.
I have a good stash of Vieux Telegraphe and I find it a great wine :wink:


#6

CNDP is like any popular region in that it suffers from its name being used on wines that are very inferior - just like Bordeaux or (especially) Burgundy. However just like these two regions CNDP can produce some of the best wines on the planet IMO. Some wines I’ve had from Clos des Papes, Dom St Prefert, Pegau etc are spellbinding. And if you compare these prices next to top Bordeaux’s etc then they’re also better value for money.

However if you go and buy a £15 one from a supermarket it will probably be rubbish. Just like the £15 Barolos you see supermarkets selling


#7

I completely agree with the statements about the variability/size of CNDP. But I’ve come to realise there is another factor at work here, which is simply that of individual taste.

I fretted over why I didn’t love CNDP (and to be honest, Cotes du Rhone also) more than I do for years. Some wineswere wonderful, but the majority were not. Rather worryingly, the ones the critics (OK, Robert Parker) raved about were frequently the ones I disliked most. I even took myself off to S. Rhone wine dinners to see what I was missing.

That was then. I came to realise that I really didn’t much care for the grenache noir grape in its classic mid-life forms. I love very young and grapy grenache, and really mature (30 years say) examples can be wonderful. But in between? Meh. CNDP and CDR are both - excluding a few counter-examples - typically grenache driven.

I’m only telling you this because once you have forked out for that acclaimed great example, if you don’t like it then don’t beat yourself up over it. We don’t all like the same things, and it’s good to know your own palate.


#8

There is some utter nonsense and drivel written about CNdP.
Would you expect CH Latour, Lafite or Petrus in your local ASDA?
Nor would I expect to find the Beaucastel Hommage cuvee, Rayas nor a Celestin;s cuvee.
CNdP Red can be made up of 13 grape varieties, but can be just Grenache.
A CNdP lookalike or clone is the Coudoulet de Beaucastel, this huge vineyard sits across the N7 road which is the boundary between the CNdP Appellation and the CDR Appellation, Virtually the same grape mix, made the same way, with the same care and about a third of the price of its more illustrious and fabled brother. The WS sells it EP every year, around £17 per bottle.
There again, a favourite of mine is

image

£9.50 a bottle, impeccably made with the assistance of Nestor; this is a must buy every Rhone EP campaign, BTW, a CDR just like Coudoulet!
Go to your local supermarket and if the CNdP is priced at less than £17 which Coudoulet is, you are NOT going to get a decent bottle of CNdP.
I love CNdP, it is one of the world’s great wines, yet there is some terrible stuff about. The good news is that there is less bad CNdP being made because the vineyards within the appellation boundary in the past few years has shot up in price. So those vineyards that did make bad wine have been bought by good winemakers and are now producing wine up to potential.
Interesting that the Guigal family have recently spent a small fortune on buying the Domaine Nalys which was owned by an insurance Co and sold most of it to supermarkets. Hands up for those who think that the magicians who make La Landonne, Mouline and La Turque will end up producing supermarket swill from a vineyard that produced brilliant wine when previously in the hands of very good winemakers?? Note that Nalys made up to 200.000 bottles per vintage but that should be no problem for the Guigal’s who make 2 Million PLUS bottles of their great CDR.
If one’s experience of CNdP is from the lower end, then try the Coudoulet or Mas du Libian, they give one an idea of what CNdP can produce, I have been fortunate enough to taste the Beaucastel Homage and their white Vielle Vignes and Rayas and Fonsalette………!!
These wines are as good as it gets and yes they are CNdP’s and no, you will not find them in your local supermarket nor will you find Mouton or Le Pin, but you knew that - didn’t you??


#9

It’s an easy AOC to churn out bad wine from. It’s big, there are lots of small domaines who will sell in bulk, and the last two vintages have been hot and so really any red wine grown within the AOC can be made to be heady, sweet and very alcoholic. Which is what supermarket CNDP needs to do. Stick some medieval lettering and imagery on the front and lo and behold, you have something to stick on offer at the end of an aisle in late November.

Not every AOC has the scale, climate or brand penetration for this to occur. But it’s not unique to CNDP. There is some awful St Emilion out there, and for every great Ventoux or CDr there is a great cotes de Castillon or Bordeaux Superieur which is better wine.

Producer and style is everything. I avoid sweet, porty CNDP (TWS do sell some wines like this - Font de Michelle is generally too sweet for me) and go for more savoury, restrained options, usually low Syrah or cooler vintages. See my notes elsewhere on Bois de Boursan. I have a couple of old VTs which I feel are a bit special. But I don’t see the others as particularly more special than great Gigondas or Vinsobres and one of the 2016 wines I am most looking forward to trying is the Charvin Cotes du Rhone which is apparently as good as Coudoulet and was £120/12 EP.

So in summary I think in one way it is overhyped, if you take the AOC as an amorphous mass of juice. But few collectors or merchants would confuse supermarket CNDP with serious wines, just the same as there is a world of difference between an Aldi St Emilion and Ch Ausone.


#10

As others have said stick to the very best examples and producers (if you can afford them) otherwise look elsewhere for your Rhone fix!


#11

I enjoy Rhone wines, have found that if you aren’t careful you are just paying for the name of CNDP on the bottle than a good quality wine. If buying CNDP I would only look at certain producers that are known to be good quality.

I guess the thing is, CNDP is just a region, it used to be a sign of quality throughout the region so if it was a CNDP you know it would be good, less so these days with producers trading on the CNDP name with most of the public still believing that all CNDP is high quality. Its a bit like that in the automotive world, the general public believe that German engineering is top notch and always reliable, this was probably true in the 80s and 90s when they were build properly and not cut corners but less so these days - but people still believe its true.


#12

Well I like CNDP and the few bottles of aged Vieux Telegraphe I own are go to wines for special occasions above anything else. But I would buy the supermarket bottles from an unheard of bottler.if pushed to buy I’d rather have the cairrane or gigondas that next to it on the shelf


#13

Don’t start me on Barolos that is a wine along with Burgundy that I have indulged in and had my fingers burnt and wallet emptied, of course as I implied in my opening statement it has and is happening in all the major wine regions of Europe, it was just that what with the Rhone wine scandal of late and my conversation with someone who does know about Rhone wines another area has been subjected to scrutiny and rightly so.
Sometimes one can have to much knowledge, but not when you are spending your own money.

Had a quick trawl through the internet and came up with this from 2013, which says something similar to what has been aired here, by Fiona Beckett so not a new subject for discussion.


#14

Quite interestingly she suggested Maby La Fernade Lirac instead of CndP. That is a cracking wine and usually stocked by TWS. Lirac is next to CndP, same as Coudoulet (?) mentiobed earlier.

Latest vintage I have not tried.


#15

It would be at least 5 years ago when my daughter texted from a large supermarket in the east of England. She had been charged with buying wine for a works do. On the shelves with no promotion other than a discount of 6 or more was a CNDP for £5.99. She wanted my wisdom on what she thought I had talked about not being a cheap wine. Anyway she bought what she needed, got appropriate discount. Next day she called in again to get another couple of bottles to find it at £15.99.
Perhaps she got a wine that was worth somwhere in between!


#16

It true that many Cote du Rhone cru’s, or villages give as much pleasure as most lower or even middling CNDP, at lower prices. I don’t think many match the top end and certainly don’t age the same but then they are much more money.


#17

I have never tried them , but some Cote de Rhone crus fetch high prices and are highly rated, not something you see everyday though, Coudoulet de Beaucastel and Domaine Gramenon are two of these but I am sure the experts on the area will come up with others, there does seem to be a lot of value in some of the lesser appelations in the area.
Back on the CNDP theme, Robert Parker gave the area a big lift with his citing that he drank more of the stuff and got greater pleasure from CNDP than anywhere else, as with anything he said in his pomp it did you no harm when in your favour.


#18

I think it suits his palate - a useful fact to bear in mind when considering his views on wines from other areas. (I think he is completely at sea on red Burgundy for example).


#19

@cerberus

Captain Bob in his reports and books as well as a terrific “mentor” at a Wine Merchant taught and steered me in the right direction.
I had a red Beaumes from 1990 which took my breath away, Gramenon across the board could be fabulous, Vacqueyras and Trignon on their day etc, etc!!
When nature complied, low yields, non-interventionist winemaking, and the vignerons cared, maybe when the next generation stepped up to the plate and did away with bad practices of previous generations, so many factors could come into play to make outstanding wine when previously there was average or even dross.
Captain Bob then and no doubt Marcel but also J L-L and Jeb are our eyes and ears today, to bring us news of developments in the Rhone Valley.
But when you taste a well cellared Guigal CDR (£10) or a Perrin CDR Reserve or La Vielle Ferme from the Co-op (£7.50 or less) or Chave’s Mon Coeur (£10) or the Libian CDR (£9.50) we are incredibly fortunate to be able to access lovely wine at a more than reasonable price. Even better in fantastic vintages like 15 & 16 and probably 17 with these world class winemakers “fairydust” as an added bonus!!
More than a tenner can buy so much better but you have to do your homework. If you expect the “gems” to drop into your lap (or glass!) you are kidding yourselves because those more clued up, better informed, more enthusiastic will have salted away the best value wines by the case full into their cellars before most have got out of bed!
A recent example of a fabulous wine that was made available to us well tendered WS members was the 2016 Domaine du Cayron on the 2016 EP offer which J L-L gave his highest score of 6 Stars. £20 per bottle delivered. Not content making available that gem, we then a few months later got access to the Cayron 2010 fully mature at £20!!
My question as a Wine Society member is, “Why do any of us need to go to a supermarket for our wine”, when with a little effort and foresight we have the very best that the Rhone Valley has to offer in our mail/in boxes every January and offers throughout the year??!


#20

It will be interesting this year as my holiday next month takes me down through the Rhone where we will stay a few days just outside Vacqueyras so I will raid Gigondas again knowing a lot more than the last time I was there and some satellite areas, but you are right it is one area TWS excels in.

There have been in the last few years some very good value CDR and even Vidal Fleury made a good one last year ?
The only CNDP I have is a case of Clos du Papes 2009, whether I drink it or sell I have not yet decided as in reallity I would rather have more of a selection, so will probably sell it.

Just a point, when we were in Rioja last year the supermarkets had all the good wines and the good years, plus they were cheaper than the wineries sometimes by quite a margin, in France I have not noticed quite the same difference in fact often with the big names from Bordeaux or the Rhone it is cheaper to buy here in the UK, only the bottom end seems to be cheaper unless someone knows of a better outlet there ?
And yet when I visited Jean Luc Colombo’s place the wines were cheaper, odd !
I do have Robert Parkers Wines of the Rhone Valley purchased many years ago it is very informative, also I picked up on Amazon secondhand JLL s and Melvyn Masters paperback for 20p now that was good value, in fact after a quick look on Amazon for those interested both those books though dated but still relevant are available with others for peanuts, other regions are not so cheap.
As for doing your homework, sage words, it is something all those on here with special interests have done over years, yourself , PeterM with his knowledge of S A wines, Juan with Spanish wines, Winechief Australian, and others can help a lot with those who are starting out, although my interests are spread across the whole spectrum of wine my interest in German Riesling goes back to the early seventies and I like to think I know a bit about that area and can impart a little knowledge of the subject if wanted.