Rhone Valley & South of France -
Notes and impressions from a Rhone varietal tasting - Saturday, Feb 3, 2001, at the Wine Exchange in Orange, CA. Twenty-four wines were poured for a tasting fee of $18.
The wines, in the order tasted:
1999 St Cosme - Condrieu. $39.99. Light off-yellow color. Nose
of nectarine, peach, sweet grass, and hint of macadamia. Chewy,without
being ponderous of thick. Light flavors of peach and sweet grass, with
a nice toasty quality, and long mostly crisp finish.
1998 La Bastide Blanche - Bandol. $15.99. Medium-dark ruby-garnet
color. Slightly astringent or rough nose of oak and raspberry. Meaty mouthfeel,
very fat on the palate, with an acid streak that comes on at mid-palate
and continues through long finish.
1998 Domaine des Murettes Cuvee des Cimes - Minervois. $12.99.
Medium ruby-violet-garnet color. Beautiful floral and fruity nose, with
lots of vanilla, toast and a hint of waxy shoe polish. Crisp, yet fleshy
mouthfeel, very tasty blackberry/raspberry across the palate, with an
oaky and somewhat bitter taste to the long finish. 2/3 Syrah, 1/3 Mourvedre.
1998 Chateau d'Or et de Gueules Cuvee Prestige - Costieres
de Nimes. $12.99. Dark ruby violet color. Nose of toast, crushed flowers,
pomegranete, blueberry, and a touch of waxy shoe polish. Toasty off-sweet
fruit, smooth mouthfeel, long finish with no trace of bitterness. 40%
Grenache, 40% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, 10% Carignane.
1998 T. Navarre Tonneaux - St. Chinian. $13.99. Dark garnet-ruby
color. Nose of floral overtones, with a stemmy blueberry/black cherry
aroma. Bright raspberry/blackberry flavor across the palate, with obvious
oak and a very long finish. Syrah/Grenache blend.
1998 Chateau Puech-Haut Epicurien - Coteaux-du-Languedoc. $20.99.
Dark ruby-violet color. Very refined and integrated nose, with lots of
creamy vanilla-based fruit, and nicely toasted oak. Tastes like freshly
toasted bread with blackberry compote, fabulous balance, and nice sweet
toasty taste that lasts through very long finish. 70% Syrah, 30% Carignane
1999 Chateau Valcombe Le Griottes - Cotes du Ventoux. $7.99.
Dark rose-violet-purple color. Nose of vanilla, raspberry/blackberry
fruit, with a lightly toasted quality. Tasty, if a bit rough on the palate,
with moderate fruit and very long finish. 50/50 Syrah/Granache.
1999 Domaine les Grand Bois Cuvee Gabrielle - Cotes
du Rhone Villages. $10.99. Medium-dark ruby-violet color. Nose seems
somewhat swampy and stemmy initially, overshadowing the light-moderate
fruit. This seems to disappear with some swirling, yet also returns with
time. Toasty and a bit coarse in mouthfeel, with moderate fruit, and a
nice long finish. 50% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 25% Mourvedre.
1998 Domaine de Fontenille - Cote du Luberon. $10.99. Medium garnet-ruby
color. Bright, stemmy, earthy and meaty nose, with a crushed floral quality.
Oaky and a bit rough in mouthfeel, a mass of raspberry fruit comes on
a mid-palate, but get a bit bitter though long finish. 2/3 Grenache, 1/3
1998 Tardieu Laurent Guy Louis - Cotes du Rhone. $22.99.
Medium violet-ruby color. Very much dried fruits, florals, and herbs in
the nose. Very appealing. Big mouthfeel, lots of raspberry fruit and toast,
long finish. Mostly Grenache.
1998 Chateau Valcombe La Sereine - Cotes du Ventoux. $19.99.
Black purple-ruby color. Dense nose of bittersweet chocolate, blackberry/blueberry/boysenberry,
and tar. Huge mouthfeel, with lots of blackberry/blueberry fruit, and
a minor amount of chocolate and toast. Leading to very long finish. Mostly
1998 Domaine du Trapadis Harys - Cotes du Rhone. $28.99.
Black garnet-ruby color. There seems to be lots of sweet raspberry/blackberry
fruit and chocolate aromas, but it's hard to ignore the big dollop of
funky vitamin present in the nose. Rough and oaky in mouthfeel, with moderate
fruit and very long finish. The abundant oak and acid create a real lip-sticker
here. I think things will improve a bit with time, but, I'm not so sure
the fruit's up to the long wait. Oh, here's a little cuteness: "Harys"
is Syrah spelled backwards.
1998 Cuvee du Vatican - Chateauneuf du Pape. $16.99. Medium garnet
color. Clean, slightly stemmy raspberry/cranberry nose. Crisp mouthfeel
and lots of personality, but it seems a little light on fruit on the palate,
with an aspirin-like quality to the finish. On the whole, I felt the nose
was a bit better than the mouth, which had a sort of pungent quality to
1998 Pere Pape La Crau de Ma Mere - Chateauneuf du Pape. $23.99.
Medium garnet color. Slightly restrained nose of stemmy raspberry/cranberry
fruit. Off-sweet fruit, toasty mouthfeel, off-sweet, slightly hot finish.
1998 Chateau Mont Redon - Chateauneuf du Pape. $24.99. Medium
garnet color. Stemmy moderately fruity nose, with a bit of petrochemical/thinner.
Big, slightly rough mouthfeel, moderate fruit, long finish.
1998 Chateau Fortia - Chateauneuf du Pape. $25.99. Medium garnet
color. Nose of black cherry/blackberry, with toast, chocolate, and floral
overtones -- nearly pinot-like. Lots of cranberry/raspberry flavors, very
smooth and integrated on the palate, long finish.
1998 Domaine du Galet des Papes Vieilles Vignes - Chateauneuf
du Pape. $29.99. Medium garnet color. Slightly sweet stemmy and toasty
fruit in the nose. Full mouthfeel, stemmy and fleshy fruit, long finish.
1998 Bosquet du Pape Cuvee Chantemerle - Chateauneuf du Pape.
$35.99. Medium-light garnet color. Stemmy and burnished fruit nose,
with a bare hint of something bordering on ammonia, which seemed to blow
off. Medium mouthfeel, toasty and moderately fruity, long finish. Interesting
and subtle wine, accenting elegance rather than power.
1998 Domaine Pegau Reserve - Chateauneuf du Pape. $33.99. Medium-dark
garnet color. Burnished blackberry/raspberry fruit, with hints of tar
and bacon. Tasty and very good mouthfeel that softens somewhat at mid-palate,
and picks up a bit of aspirin-like bitterness to the otherwise long finish.
1994 Chateau du Mourre du Tendre (Paumel) - Chateauneuf du Pape. $27.99.
Medium-dark ruby color. Burnished, old vine Zin-like nose, with a bit
of leaf and stem. Very stemmy across the palate, with tired, drawn, and
gnarly old vine-like flavors, and long finish.
1998 Gilles Robin - Crozes Hermitage. $14.99. Dark ruby-violet
color. Nose of blackberry, with a bit of black cherry, dried pasta, and
toast. Toasty and fruity mouthfeel, and the fruit picks up a bit of tartness
along with a toasted grain quality to the long finish.
1998 Yves Cuilleron Les Serines - St. Joseph. $25.99. Medium-dark
violet-ruby color. Dense nose of blackberry/blueberry, oak and toast.
Full mouthfeel, slightly tart fruit, very long finish.
1998 Le Vin de Vienne Les Essartailles - Cote Rotie. $34.99.
Medium-dark ruby color. Stemmy, bright, and slightly tart nose. Off-sweet
fruit, fleshy and slightly tart mouthfeel, long finish.
1998 Domaine du Mas Blanc (Dr. Parce Rimage - Banyuls. $19.99.
Sweet black cherry/blackberry and toasty nose. Smooth and slightly
soft mouthfeel, with nice soft fruit quality through the long finish.
Overall impressions: this was a very nice cross-section of Rhones and Rhone varietals from the south of France. Although it's interesting enough to take this what amounts to a virtual tour of the Rhone and South of France, as a bonus, I found lots of values in this lineup, with 5 of my top ten favorites coming in under $20.
The Valcombe La Sereine, Pegau Reserve, and Puech-Haut Epicurien were all very solid wines, two of which were even more impressive considering their prices. The St Cosme, the lone Condrieu was gorgeous -- one of the best Viogniers I've had. Of course it was 40 bucks, too.
Mildly disappointing was the lone Cote Rotie Le Vin de Vienne Les
Essartailles as well as the CdPs Bosquet du
Pape Cuvee Chantemerle, Mont Redon, Pere Pape La Crau de Ma
Mere , and du Mourre du Tendre. I really expected some
fresher flavors or maybe more extraction from these wines, along with
a less-tart fruit. Maybe some of these are just too subtle for me. Or,
maybe it's just a bit too difficult tasting the subtleties of CdPs after
a blitz of much bigger wines. But, for my tastes, it turns out that some
were obviously just better than others.
Here is my order of preference, listed in order and by tier, of the wines tasted.
1998 Chateau Valcombe La Sereine - Cotes du Ventoux. $19.99.
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