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Here today, Gonnet tomorrow

Gonnet “Domaine Font de Michelle” 1995 Châteauneuf-du-Pape “Cuvée Etienne Gonnet” (Rhône) – Softened in its age, no doubt thanks to the still-sweet, almost malty oak notes, though there’s a lovely, herbal Châteauneuf-du-Pape somewhere inside the makeup, yearning to be free. Alas, though, if Tiki drinks could age, this might be what they’d taste like.

I don’t want to over-condemn. This is a good wine. A very good wine, in fact. I just don’t like the wallpaper. (7/12)

He said, she Cèdres

Jaboulet 1995 Châteaneuf-du-Pape “Les Cèdres” (Rhône) – As each of what was once a fair stock of Jaboulets leaves my cellar, I breathe a sigh of relief. They just aren’t my style, which is my dodgy way of saying that I simply can’t understand the praise lavished on the wines by ostensibly right-thinking people. That they’re hard and chronically abused by their structure is almost a given, but the tumescence of an Hermitage is one thing, while a similar lack of yield in a Châteauneuf-du-Pape is quite another. There are, here, liquefied black peppercorns and what might, once, have been a presence that once, long ago, glimpsed a black and white painting of a blackberry from a few blocks away. Otherwise, all is dust and solidity, now eroded and crumbling but still architecturally sound. It is not, I hasten to say, a bad wine, and there’s certainly intellectual interest. But my enjoyment has dried up only somewhat more slowly than the wines. (5/12)

Avril in Paris

Avril “Clos des Papes” 1996 Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Rhône) – From before when people started arguing about whether or not Clos des Papes has gone to hell, from a vintage on which some of those same people have rather frequently disagreed. It’s hard-edged, full of acidity laid more bare than before, and yet all the aged nouveau-Papal components are there and just a little past “there”…browned-out soil, old herbs, antiqued meat, gentle suasions and comforting familiarity. I love it, but the love has an expiration date in the very, very near future. (2/12)

Dot age

Vieux Télégraphe 1995 Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Rhône) – Brutal, almost, in its structural primacy. Or perhaps primalness is a better word. This tastes as if it has barely budged, tannin- and acid-wise, though the fruit has undergone a bit of a roasted meatward shift. Not the full transformation one would expect from a Châteauneuf-du-Pape beyond fifteen years of age, though. Where this is going (or if it’s already gotten there), I have no idea. It makes a very powerful statement, though. (12/11)

White tiara

Perrin “Château de Beaucastel” 1998 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc (Rhône) – Fat…and then, almost remarkably, not. Quite a dance, these old pale-faced Rhônes do. Dried stone fruit, wet stone fruit, sun-drenched paintings of stone fruit, terracotta, aromas that build from a heavily-oxidized and nasty, vegetal spike at first opening to something appealing at hour four, and delicious at hour 24. No, really…those are accurate numbers. This is a wine that moves. (12/11)

VV voom

Texier 2000 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc “Vieilles Vignes” (Rhône) – Absolutely singing. The last bottle I tasted was fairly tortured, so I was a little hesitant about opening another, but there are no longer any regrets. Molten metal in gold, amber, and brass hues, a Renaissance still life of stone fruit (mostly stone, not so much fruit), and the sort of decadently fetid decaying floral aroma that, along with the general fatness of the wines, one either loves or hates in white Rhônes. I can go either way, depending on the bottle, but I love this. There’s even a bit of acidity, just to add simulacrum of levity. Now is this wine’s time. (11/11)

Caught in the Nerthe

Château La Nerthe 1998 Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Rhône) – My expectation, at uncorking, is that this is going to be an oaky mess falling apart at the cabinetry seams. And my initial impression of the wine does not exactly counter this expectation. There’s butter, there’s lacticity, there’s toast, there’s stale and somewhat rancid autumnal decay. But then, something interesting happens: the wine within emerges, and whatever might have been done to it along the way doesn’t hold the entirety of the field. Dark berries? Yes, old and dusty as is typical, with venison jerky and a sort of stew-like, meat-based acidity that is entirely typical of CdP but which I have never been able to properly describe (I doubt “stew-like, meat-based acidity” is going to catch on, even with me). It’s nowhere near as good as it should have been, due to a surplus of interest in modernity, but it’s certainly not bad. (10/11)

Pégau club

Féraud “Domaine du Pégau” 1990 Châteauneuf-du-Pape “Cuvée Réservée” (Rhône) – As this comes from the cellar of a friend that I’ve usually described as “glacial,” I expect it – like previous versions of this same wine from the same cellar – to be unready. It’s not; in fact, it’s beautifully mature, and I express some surprise. Of course, it turns out that the wine spent most of its life in said friend’s brother’s cellar, which explains things. Well, it’s nice to know that I can spot the difference. So, from normal cellars: drink nowish. What you’ll get is the usual aged-Châteauneuf meat juice, a little buffed up and muscular, with more polish than usual and a weight that was, once, expressed as heat but has now mostly integrated in a fashion I can’t quite (chemically) grasp…or maybe this is a transient pairing effect of the cheese with which we drank it. In any case, it’s as supple and sophisticated as any aged Châteauneuf of my experience, and while it doesn’t have a whole lot of complexity to show for its maturity, what it has is extremely nice. (9/11)

Reflet mignon

Nicolet “Domaine Chante Perdrix” 1995 Châteauneuf-du-Pape “Sélection Reflets” (Rhône) – Rusty old fruit, dried herbs, hand-hewn wine cave, and well-dried meat. A fine old CdP in the sunset of its years. Drink up, with pleasure but not with overly aggressive food. (8/11)