We have been following his Chimeres bottling for years and have staged several very successful offerings based on the ‘holy trinity’...quality, value, and reviews. So when we came across the 2016 Chimeres, from one of the best vintages we have ever tasted from the region, we were understandably excited. As we checked the available stock, however, we were also puzzled. It seemed that the purveyor had a healthy chunk of wine, causing us to wonder if there was something missing that we didn’t see. Why was a wine this good at this kind of price still sooo available, other than the usual reasons of market timing and lazy wine merchants.
As it turned out, one of Chimeres biggest cheerleaders, Jeb Dunnuck, didn’t review the vintage. Where’d ya go, bro? In retrospect this was about the time Jeb was setting up his own eponymous review service and we suspect more than a few wines sort of fell through the cracks during the period. Below are Jeb’s scores for Chimeres both as the Wine Advocate Rhone specialist (2012-2015) and his own service (2017). Note the ? on the 2016...
2017 Chateau Saint-Roch Cotes du Roussillon Chimeres 93
2016 Chateau Saint-Roch Cotes du Roussillon Chimeres ?
2015 Chateau Saint-Roch Cotes du Roussillon Chimeres 93
2014 Chateau Saint-Roch Cotes du Roussillon Chimeres 90-92
2013 Chateau Saint-Roch Cotes du Roussillon Chimeres 93
2012 Chateau Saint-Roch Cotes du Roussillon Chimeres 93
It is clear from those reviews that Jeb has been an enthusiastic fan. But he missed what we feel is the best Saint-Roch Chimeres yet. With its saturated maroon color, billowing, sweet nose of ripe berries, currants, and plums, expansive bright mouthful of the same, accented with the specific minerality of that black schist (something between granitic elements and notes of anise) we feel this wine is superior to both the 93pt 2015 and 2017 (which we preview tasted in France two months ago). Flashy, substantial, with seemingly a little more refinement and harmony than the many other fine efforts in this series, you simply couldn’t ask more of a $15 wine than this one delivers. Yeah, they have been consistently successful but, for us, this one took it up another notch by virtue of its bright flavors and deceptive richness.
Jeb’s replacement at Wine Advocate, Joe Czerwinski, had nice things to say, “From yields as low as 15 hectoliters per hectare (less than half of the maximum allowed in Châteauneuf-du-Pape), the 2016 Chimeres is 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah, half aged in demi-muids, the other half in concrete tanks. The wine showcases red fruit (cherries and raspberries), which accent it with dried spices and a hint of dark chocolate. It's full-bodied and supple, with just the slightest suggestion of warmth on the finish. It's another great value from proprietor-winemaker Jean-Marc Lafage to drink over the next few years...91 points”
As to Jeb, he not only didn’t ‘cheerlead’, the proverbial ‘tree’ didn’t make a noise or probably even fall. The moment was missed, and to that we say...thanks! The more conservative Czerwinski gave us a good accounting of the wine. But Jeb‘s ‘miss’ allowed us one of the easiest grabs of juice this good and well priced in a long time. As to our readers, don’t you miss this gorgeous red!