8 Buyers, 1 Store, 8000 Wines

Saturday, April 12, 2008

On 2:11 PM by The Bloggers @ 67 Wine in , ,    No comments
I have one supplier who has a great catalog of older vintages of Rhone wines. Unfortunately, there isn't very much of any one wine. When we run out, we often can't get any more. Such was the case with the Clos des Pontifes 2001. This has been one of my favorites since it came in, but alas, all gone.

The 2001 vintage in the Rhone was, like every vintage except one for the last 10 years, outstanding. Most of the wine we carry is the current vintage. For the Chateauneuf du Pape, that means '04, '05 and '06. These wines are for the most part delicious now, but will get better and better for several years. Because I like to have some wine with a little age in the store, I went back to my favorite supplier of older Rhones to chose another 2001.

Unfortunately, this is one supplier that is difficult about samples, particularly for older vintages. What I end up doing is buying a single case and immediately buying a bottle for myself. If I like it, I tell everyone about it and buy some more right away, before the supplier can sell out. If it's badly flawed, I send the rest of the case back. If it's just okay, I cut the price to the point where it becomes a good value anyway.

Last night, I was going to dinner at a friend's house, so I brought a bottle of my newest 2001 Chateauneuf, Domaine Moulin Tacussel. It turned out to be as good as I had hoped. It started off with a fairly tight nose, with some red berry and a little pipe tobacco. The wine showed a crisp acidity, with some dense fruit and spice, but a bit of a hard edge. As we drank the bottle, every sip just opened up more and more. If I had been home, I would have decanted the wine after the first sip. Midway through the bottle, it was showing a far more generous palate. Red berry, blue berry, nutmeg, Provençal herbs and and low note of that pipe tobacco.

After the previous post by Ben, I figured I should put up the score - 88 points from Parker. This is exactly what I was talking about in the post. That 88 point score tells us almost nothing. The accompanying note is just short of a rave. He called it a "friendly, classic Chateauneuf du Pape" that "possesses an attractive melange of ground pepper, lavender and other Provencal herbs along with plenty of sweet plum and cherry fruit." He finally calls it "tasty, medium-bodied, elegant, seductive, well-made". He said nothing negative about the wine. How do the words reconcile with the score? The note was from February, 2004. How does a 4 year old tasting note align with what you will taste today? Just because he scored it 88 points then, it certainly doesn't mean he would give it the same score now. What if he tasted a just opened bottle? As I said, it was pretty closed on the first sip. It came around very quickly, but how much time would he have given it?

On the other hand, knowing that it scored 88 points meant that I really didn't have to worry that the wine would be unpalatable. It came from a terrific importer. Based on those two facts alone, I was comfortable buying a case sight unseen. I'm very happy to say that it is an extraordinary value at $39.99.



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