I don't know how many of you do this, but I highly recommend calling your restaurant ahead of time (depending on the bottle you are interested in) to kindly ask them to begin decanting the wine that you'd like to order for your dinner reservation. I find two, blatant benefits to doing so:
1). Most top notch restaurants have their wine lists available via a PDF file on the internet (how often they update them is another story). Analyzing them ahead of time means that you will not miss out on any dinner dialogue due to having your nose firmly glued to the local wine bible. You'll no longer be the anti-social wine geek...you'll be elevated to resourceful wine geek status immediately.
2). Most reasonably priced wine on restaurant lists is on the younger side and in need of a oxygenating kick in the rear. I'll tend to order younger wines based on my wallet, or based on sheer curiosity. This inevitably leads to disappointment, considering my tastes, as the wine will usually be withdrawn and stubborn until the last glass offers a glimpse at 'what could have been.'
Decanting ahead of time allows the wine geek to be social, interactive and content w/ how the wine has evolved. Most restaurants that are equipped with sommeliers will happily do this for you, assuming you leave a credit card number over the phone for security reasons. If this is old news, feel free to tease my redundancy and scroll on down to the wine as it is definitely worth the foreplay.
The second this was poured in the glass, I knew I had to firmly fasten my seat belt and embrace myself for a heady, Provencal ride. The deep, dark purple appearance was nearly opaque, a stark comparison to the majority of its peers. The scents don't tickle, nor do they tease...authoritative notes of cigar box, roasted chestnut and spice rubbed beef eject themselves through the nostrils like a shuttle at launch. You couldn't help but imagine a dry fermented port was to follow, and boy was it! Huge, immensely proportioned in the mouth, pumping out piles of dried figs, melted licorice, rich black currant and plumb sauce saturate every single inch of the palate. While the textures were nothing short of plush, the wine was layered, richly tannic and massively endowed. The elements of garrigue reverberate on the finish, as if they were magnified w/ fun-house mirrors that cascaded like dominos.
I expected a sense of feminine power and was greeted w/ this stunning model of masculine opulence, epitomized by low acid decadence. A dazzling accomplishment! While I've had the Pegau Reservee 2003 4 times this year, this '01 effort could get toe to toe w/ it every step of the way. 97 points.
Another Domaine that subscribes to only one regional bottling (a rouge and a blanc, as opposed to multiple cuvees showcasing best barrels and old vines) is Clos des Papes. Although there are plenty of classic examples from producers like Janasse, Pegau, Vieille Julienne, etc. that showcase success utilizing multiple bottlings, this is a single estate Rouge week (it also happens that neither of these wines sees ANY new oak whatsoever).
The 2001 Clos des Papes appears more transparent in color than the nearly opaque Charvin, but shows lovely deep ruby specks throughout its base....blah blah blah, who cares about the color!? Dive in and you'll see why she's special, in beguiling spades. The scents offer a gateway of subtlety, which evokes notions of grilled beef, sage, kirsch, rose and raspberry ganache. The palate tap dances the line of the savory spectrum, while flirting w/ the pure natures enjoyed in freshly crushed fruit. Glossy and subtlely explosive, this vintage of Clos des Papes reveals its pedigree initially, but builds classical momentum in short time. Provencal elements lurk in the hauntingly pure finish, leaving me breathless & salivating.
Yeah, I dig it. 96 points, certainly enjoyable (decanted for 2 hours) now but I’d be keen on watching her purity strike an even more profound chord in time.
2001 was one of the watershed vintages in the Southern Rhone's consecutive string of winners from '98-'06 (save for '02). Several Chateauneuf produced from this year have elevated levels of tannin, leaving them mired in pro-longed dormant stages since they were bottled. I believe these two Domaine bottlings are unique in their approachability, polish and early generosity, relative to the nature of 2001. Don't let that fool you though, these wines will continue to evolve and impress for at least 2 more decades to come.
What magical wonders lay w/in the Southern Rhone?!