Red Wings and
After a disastrous 1st Round playoff loss to the Los Angeles Kings last May, the Detroit Red Wings began the 2001-’02 NHL campaign with high optimism, having added yet another three future Hall of Famers to their lineup. While a cast of superstars has never won anything on paper, the morale of fans and teammates alike couldn’t help but be buoyed by the likes of Dominik Hasek, Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille. And indeed, after 21 games, or ¼ of the season, the boys wearing the winged wheel on their jerseys had a record of 17-3-0-1, best in the NHL. The scary part is that they’ve yet to play their best hockey.
To renew the Red Wings-Red Rhônes tradition here at Gang Central, we selected three ’98s and a '97 from Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Well aware that we were committing infanticide, we nevertheless wanted to see what the prospects were for these three down the road.
1998 Domaine du Pegau Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvée Réservée, $39.99, 13.5% alc.: A perennial favorite at our house, the ’98 Pegau is a deep, almost inky dark garnet with the signature bouquet featuring dusty plume, prune, mulberry, leather and smoke that follows through on the palate with a significant tannic, acidic byte. It does open with a few hours of air, becoming somewhat more accessible, lengthening on the finish and gaining a note of garrigue. Showing all the elements to be a great wine in ten years or so, the only drawback is the price tag, which is an even bigger byte than the tannins and acidity. Why has the cost of this skyrocketed so?! I can still find the ’96 Pegau for $27 in Day-twah. That’s more than a 25% increase, which will make me think twice about buying more, despite the undeniable quality of the wine.
1998 Domaine de la Charbonnière Châteauneuf du Pape Les Hautes Brusquières Cuvée Spéciale, $29.99, 14.5% alc.: This dark garnet isn’t as inky as the Pegau, and while the raspberry, black cherry and plum nose isn’t overly effusive, it is pretty. The flavors echo and expand with added earthy, leathery notes, a reasonably long finish, and again, significant tannins and acidity. Another ten year wine, this has a price point that’s a little easier to swallow, but the Pegau has more of the CdP character that this taster looks for.
1998 Domaine Saint Benoit Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvée de Grande Garde, $22.49, 13.5% alc.: We loved the 1990 version of this that Alan Kerr opened for us, so it was not much of a risk to pick up this vintage. Another dark garnet, it exhibits a nice plum, prune, berry, leather, earth and smoke bouquet that echoes loudly in the big, rich flavors with the kind of delicious CdP character that I love. It’s surprisingly approachable already with a few hours of air, with good acidity and less tannins than either of the first two selections. It’s smooth in the mouth, not quite like velvet, but more like velour, and there’s a tarry note on the finish. This has good QPR (quality-price ratio), and I’m inclined to buy more of this before considering the Pegau or the Charbonnière.
1997 Les Cailloux Châteauneuf du Pape, $26.99, 14% alc.: There’s a hint of rust to this dark garnet, and it’s one of the cloudiest wines we’ve seen in quite a while. The beautifully expressive bouquet features plum, prune, smoke, cola and spice, along with hints of vanilla, garrigue and a certain floral nuance. But while these more or less follow through on the palate, the flavors don’t quite live up to the promise of the nose; there’s an added green vegetal streak and searing acidity that are detractions. There’re three to five years worth of tannins, and the earthy finish fades a bit before one would like. Maybe some additional cellaring will mellow this a bit, as the acidity needs to tone down even more than tannins, but I wouldn’t buy any more of this vintage based on this taste, and it’s still readily available in our area.