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Chusclan of the cave bear

Texier 2000 Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages Chusclan (Rhône) – I open this with trepidation, due to the synthetic cork in its neck. But this is one of the random bottles that’s survived its closure, showing rolling waves of luscious Rhônish un-fruit (underbrush, meat, herbs, dried-and-smoked red cherries in residual form), both “pretty” – if you like this sort of thing – and long. It’s a lower-volume wine, to be sure, which is only to its credit. (10/08)

Baton rouge

[barrels]Texier 2004 Côtes-du-Rhône Rouge (Rhône) – More acidic than one normally expects from a basic Côtes-du-Rhône, though Texier is hardly acid-averse, and while it defies expectations it works to the wine’s benefit when food is in the equation. Otherwise, the aroma runs through the usual range of underbrush, earth, smoked pork and bubblegum, and overall it’s fairly restrained. Not elegant, exactly, but soft. It finishes with fine sustain, and I wonder if it might not benefit from a few years’ age. (10/07)

A striking Brézèmblance

[grapes]Texier 2005 Côtes-du-Rhône Brézème Roussanne (Rhône) – This suggests rather than delivers extreme weight, and in fact turns out rather well-balanced. Nut oils and stone fruit residues are in evidence, along with some spice and a fetid peachiness. A nice wine, crisper than many of its ilk, but with the flavors one expects. (7/07)