A Few From The Rhone

Drunk over the last few months.

J. L. Chave, Saint Joseph, Offerus, 2001

Bretty, with black fruit underneath and hints of chocolate. Thick and bitter, a mix of stylish and rustic. The fruit is drying out and I think it was probably better a year ago.

I don't know whether to call it a surprise, but the 2003 was much better.

J. L. Chave, Saint Joseph, Offerus, 2003

Very high quality. I suppose stylistically it is solidly St. Joseph but the quality is about 20 yards from the Cote Rotie end-zone.

Jaboulet, Cheateauneuf Du Pape, Les Cedres, 2001

Tasted on the same night as the Chave Saint Joseph, which overshadowed the Jaboulet. Very Rhone on the nose, with black fruits, herbs, olives and mushrooms, maybe some coffee. The palate is not as structured as I’d like but with adequate concentration and length.

Georges Vernay, Condrieu, Terrasses de l’Empire, 2004

The nose is citrus-y and buttery with minerally nuances. A great nose, really. The palate keeps up and is crisp and minerally, an excellent food match, though it lacks some length and doesn't quite live up to the expectations created by the nose.

Yves Cuilleron, Condrieu, Les Chaillets, 2002

The nose has everything going for it, it's complex, it's full of white fruits, flowers and minerals. The palate is oaky - not obnoxiously oaky, but enough to be a factor - and like the Vernay, is not quite as good as the nose. Nevertheless, a lovely wine and everyone asked for another glass. Considering Viognier doesn't age well and the general concensus regarding 2002, this is an amazing success. I suspect it was never as good as the Vernay, though.

Yves Cuilleron, Cote Rotie, Le Bassenon, 1999

This wine struck out in a dullest way possible; too much oak, the most boring way to ruin as wine. At first, the nose seemed overwhelmed by the Viognier element, with a huge blast of lemon-drops and burnt pine sap. Then it settled down and revealed red fruits and smoke so in the end it was a fairly interesting nose. This did not help the palate much as the fruits felt constricted by the oak.

Tardieu-Laurent, Vacqueyras, Vieilles Vignes, 2001

Very promising nose straight out of the bottle: high-class Grenache red fruitiness and leather. The palate is tight and minerally but is as promising as the nose. And it opens up to live up to that promise as well as add nuances of spices and coffee. Long and deep. Remarkably, it doesn’t seem to have changed a whole lot since my previous tasting in 2004.

This wine and the Vernay Condieu are the perfect example why I love the Rhone.

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