Red Wings and
As the early season continued, there were other wines from the Rhône tasted, of course, and here’s our rundown on them.
1999 Domaine du Cayron Gigondas, $23.99, 14% alc.: I’m always game to try a new vintage of Dom. du Cayron, and this one is especially pleasing. Dark garnet, turning purple/pink at the rim, it exhibits a pretty bouquet that features plum, blackberry and violets, along with faint hints of smoke and cola and what Kim described as "toilet water." The flavors echo, with a good dose of tannins and good acidity, and while this can be enjoyed now (and we certainly did), it will be much better in five years or more. Another fine effort from Michel Faraud! (It should be noted that another bottle tasted had a decidedly tarry quality, but it didn’t benefit from the hour’s worth of decanting that I like to give these young Rhônes.)
1999 Domaine le Sang des Cailloux Vacqueyras, $19.99, 13.8% alc.: This producer has been doing great things for the last several years; we loved the ’95 version of this wine, and the ’98 was much ballyhooed. Unfortunately, the only bottle of the latter that I was ever able to get my hands on is tucked safely away in the cellar from hell, because the good gentleman who gave it to me told my that it would be a crime to open it before at least a few years had elapsed. Judging from the ’99, he was probably quite correct. This purple dark garnet is one BIG chunky mutha-huffer, with smoky, earthy plum, prune and cola flavors and aromas, good acidity, lots of tannins and a tarry finish. While it CAN be enjoyed now, with two or three hours of air, it really begs for 5-8 years in the cellar, after which it will be one very fine Vacqueyras.
1999 Château de Montmirail Vacqueyras Cuvée de l’Ermite, $14.99, 13.5% alc.: This deep dark garnet shows excellent QPR, with deep dark plum, blackberry, blackcherry perfume that follows through on the palate with good acidity, considerable tannins and some earth and tar on the long finish. A sweet note on the nose is somewhat reminiscent of a late harvest Zinfandel, and that’s not a bad thing in this case. Chunky, but not rustic, this is a five year wine no sweat, but like any good Rhône, it opens nicely with air. In fact, with four hours, it’s drinking quite well indeed.
2000 Château de Segries Lirac Cuvée Réservée, $11.99, 13.5% alc.: This robust dark garnet shows nice ripe plum on the nose, with undertones of chocolate and violets. Flavors echo with an added note of garrigue, good acidity and a few years worth of tannins that aren’t too harsh to keep this from being enjoyable now. Full bodied and full flavored, with good length on the slightly tarry finish, there seems to be a considerable amount of Syrah in this, with a judicious dose of oak. The wine shows good QPR, and what it lacks in finesse, it makes up for in exuberance.
1999 Clos du Caillou Côtes du Rhône, $16.99, 14% alc.: I had to go to Portland, Oregon to find some of this chunky dark garnet that I’d been hearing such good things about, and I brought one home to enjoy with a hockey game. It certainly lived up to its reputation, with dense, dark blackfruit flavors and aromas and earthy undertones. Big, young and powerful, it gains some redder fruit as it opens, including plum and black cherry, shaded with leather, pepper and garrigue elements that promise to evolve with age. Concentrated and intense, this has at least five years of tannins to shed, and I can honestly say that it’s one of the few CdRs that I’ve run into that can justify the kind of price tag that it carries. I wish we could get this in Day-twah!
2000 Domaine de la Mordorée Côtes du Rhône "La Dame Rousse," $10.99, 13% alc.: This ruby dark garnet features a pretty black cherry and plum perfume with a drop of chocolate and just the faintest hint of garrigue. The latter element becomes a little more accentuated in the flavor profile, with plenty of added earth and tar, which seems to be the hallmark of most of these young southern Rhônes. It has good acidity and at least a couple of years worth of tannins, but it’ll pair well with grilled meats right now, if you give it an hour or so in a decanter.
1999 Paul Jaboulet Aine Parallele "45" Côtes du Rhône, $7.49, 13% alc.: This dark garnet is not only another solid QPR stalwart, but may be the best P. "45" in years. It shows a leathery plum, black currant and bitter chocolate nose, and flavors that echo and expand, with good acidity and tannins that don’t keep one from enjoying it now. The finish is reasonable for the overall quality, and the Costco price is definitely right. This should improve over at least the next few years, so buy it by the case, for now or for later.
1999 Perrin Réserve Côtes du Rhône, $6.49, 13% alc.: Dark garnet, with bright berry, plum, black cherry, chocolate and earth flavors and aromas, this is not too tannic, with decent acidity. It is a bit vacant on the mid-palate back through the finish, and has some of that "Kool-aid" quality that is the mark of an inexpensive (read "cheap") wine. Not bad for the Costco price, but I wouldn’t pay the $8.99 or $9.99 that it's going for most everywhere else.
1998 J. Vidal-Fleury Côtes du Ventoux, $7.99, 12.5% alc.: This straightforward southern Rhône is a dark garnet in color, with a plum and berry nose that shows a hint of tar. The earthy flavors tend to echo, with good acidity and a year or two worth of tannins; Kim called it "kind of a tart fruity thing." It finishes with more earth, and some leather and garrigue come out with air to add some complexity and interest to this decent QPR red.