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Roussel crow

Roussel “Domaine du Joncier” 2000 Lirac (Rhône) – The last bottle of a bunch purchased at an extreme discount, and they’ve all been more or less sullen. On youthful performance, I took a gamble that this would reward short-term aging. I lost. So abandoning my undue optimism, let’s treat the wine on the merits it has actually offered, rather than my unwarranted expectations thereof. It’s meaty, earthy, dark, muted, truculent, entirely decent without being more than that, and shouldn’t be held any longer. Unless I’m wrong about that, as well. (10/11)

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)

Marsanne, you don’t have to put on the red light

Marsanne 2007 Crozes-Hermitage (Rhône) – Really, that’s the guy’s name. This, however, is a red. As a cooperative Crozes, it’s not bad: baked-out fruit with some roasted peanuts and a warming comfort suffusing the whole thing. It’s pleasant. But it’s not a cooperative Crozes, which makes it about twice as expensive as it should be based on the quality. I’d say ambitions were not met here, but I suspect ambitions (or their lack) are part of the problem. (8/11)

Gigondas Kapital

Faraud “Domaine du Cayron” 1998 Gigondas (Rhône) – So very smoky, but it’s the lingering evening smoke of a long-tended fire over which beasts have been slowly turned. There’s also rock…a firm outcropping of rock…and a surprising bit of acidity, though this latter is mostly evident due to the erosion around it rather than some sort of surplus. Really fabulous Gigondas from a then-really fabulous producer (modern reports, which I can neither confirm nor deny, tend towards worrisome inconsistency), at the peak of what I want from aging the stuff. (8/11)

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)

Don’t mess

Texier 2004 Côtes-du-Rhône (Rhône) – Having consumed a fair quantity of this over the last little while, I guess the age of the wine never fully occurred to me. But now, the difference in supple development between this and other CdR made in recognizably similar ways makes sense. I don’t know if I’d call the wine’s rich palette (yes, that’s the spelling I intend) fully mature, but it’s certainly mature enough to be interesting. (7/11)

The Principauté of moments

Charvin 2007 Vin de Pays Principauté d’Orange “à côté” (Rhône) – Easygoing Provençal warmth, not a bit of it about “fruit” as such, but more about a farmhouse-dotted countryside and a slower way of life. (7/11)


Costières & Soleil “Sélectionné par Laurence Féraud” 2009 Vin de Table “Plan Pégau” (Rhône) – Even more structured and manly than usual, which makes me wonder if the non-Rhône-traditional grape component of this wine has been upped. Dusty, a bit tarry, and hazy with blackened fruit. The ideal match might be mastodon. (7/11)