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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Head to Head
1998 vs. 2000 Chateauneuf du Pape


Head to head battles become an intriguing experience when the same producer is profiled through different vintages. While one cannot make a broad leap to characterize an entire vintage based on one performance alone, one can certainly ascertain how the producer handled different vintage circumstances to create the highest quality wine possible. I have been dipping into the watershed 1998 and 2000 vintages quite often recently and typically am lead to a similar conclusion:

Both years produced outstanding, concentrated wines that still possess a lovely sense of finesse. Both vintages are currently quite accessible, while top wines from each year have an even brighter future of potential evolution ahead. With each side by side comparison I make it becomes more and more evident that I tend to like the 2000 counterpart a little bit better.

Charvin 1998
The ’98 offers a very transparent, brilliant ruby color that is one of the prettiest hues you’ll see in Chateauneuf du Pape. The scents offer-up a lavender lover’s dream, backed by hearty plum, macerated wild berry and touches of honey. Very savory in the mouth, showcasing a mountain-herb smorgasbord, strawberries and charred steak notes that are supported by admirable lift, delineation and gossamer texture. As time passes, the ’98 builds in strength and punctuates even stronger with its crackling, racy acidity. I imagine this wine will only minimally improve in the cellar as it is nearing full maturity, but it should prove to drink exceptionally well until 2020, 95 points.

Charvin 2000
It is immediately obvious that this is a riper, lower acid wine when contrasted to the ’98. Much sweeter aromatically, cranking out boatloads of liqueur-laced fruit in the form of crème de cassis, kirsch and blueberry. A rich, plump texture seems completely unevolved initially, but elements of a mossy forest floor, cigar box, mint and bittersweet cocoa begin to take shape as oxygen unravels the wine. The 2000 is a larger scaled effort than the ’98, which exhibits weightier, more opulent characteristics and is obviously the product of a phenomenally concentrated vintage. While the ’98 is a more enjoyable, mature ride today, I believe the 2000 will eventually have an edge based on its sheer substance and future promise, 96+ points.

The raw materials that ’98 and ’00 provided where exceptional for the Burgundian styled Charvin domain, but it seems to me that ’00 offered a bit more depth, power and age ability when directly compared to its’98 sibling. Enjoy your’98 Charvin while you wait to be truly wowed by the ’00…..

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