When we’re not sure what to mention first—that the 2016 Domaine de Cristia Châteauneuf-du-Pape is crafted by Robert Parker’s “stars” of Châteauneuf-du-Pape or that it hails from a vintage that Wine Spectator muses might be the “Next great benchmark in the southern Rhône”—we know we have a massive winner on our hands. Our first taste of Baptiste Grangeon and his sister Dominique Florent’s wines left us no doubt about the third-generation winemaking duo...This ripe, red-fruited, and 2016 Cristia is their classic rendition of CdP, packed with red cherry and strawberry fruit, tinged with garrigue, baked earth, and a hint of smoke. Critics are crowning Baptiste Grangeon as a new champion in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. So, what exactly led Robert Parker to declare, “the Grangeons have been on fire qualitatively for the last five to six years”? Read on.
Baptiste and his sister Dominique Florent are a third-generation winemakers, inheriting the craft and vineyards from their grandfather Etienne. In 1999, Baptiste and Dominique joined their father and took a leading role—they began releasing wine under their own domaine name and introducing biodynamic winemaking methods, becoming certified as organic in 2008. These leaps and bounds in quality excited the venerable Parker.
Fast-forward to the 2016, when Baptiste began making a few stylistic changes, using more whole clusters and a small amount of oak, aiming to endow the wines with greater complexity. He appears to have succeeded brilliantly. The scores on this 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape have not rolled in yet, but judging by Parker’s raves about the domaine’s hot streak as well as the 95-99-point scores from Jeb Dunnuck on Domaine Cristia’s other 2016s, Baptiste’s small changes have been a huge success.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that ‘16 was an absolutely sensational year in the southern Rhône all across the board. Throughout the region, warm, sunny days, and chilly nights made for unusually large diurnal temperature swings. This prolonged the growing season, yielding gorgeous fruit that was both evenly ripened and balanced, with sugars and acids combining in sublime, mouthwatering effect. Wine Spectator awarded the vintage an early rating of 96-99 points, which could surpass even the highly touted 2015s.
All of the 2016 harvest’s bold ripeness and vibrant freshness is once again on full display in this Domaine de Cristia, along with ripe red fruits, garrigue, baked earth, and a hint of smoke.