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Monday, June 30, 2008

Is There a Silkier, More Polished Bottle of Cotes du Rhone?

Well unfortunately my favorite producer of Chateauneuf du Pape, Domaine de La Vieille Julienne, is financially a tall order for most of us (myself included, as I happily shell out 60 dollars for their appellation level Chateauneuf, yet can't roll w/ the ballers when it comes to the 400 plus clams that their nearly perfect Reserve clocks in at), but what gets lost in their portfolio is their Cotes du Rhone, which gets my nod as one of the finest in the Southern Rhone. Generally priced in the mid to high teens, the Cotes du Rhone vineyards from Vieille Julienne lie just outside the boundaries of Chateauneuf du Pape and are a stone's throw away from Charvin's well known Cotes du Rhone parcels. Stylistically, the Cotes du Rhone wines from Vieille Julienne take a page out of their Chateauneuf's book, showcasing vivid, velvety fruit that cascades in an almost ethereal glide across the palate in a pure, haunting display that belies the modesty of the appellation.

Just for show, Vieille Julienne produced a legendary Cotes du Rhone, called La Bosse, for their domaine's 100th birthday in 2005, which was as show-stopping as any Chateauneuf du Pape as I've ever tasted. While their traditional Cotes du Rhone is nowhere near as grandoise as the statement made by La Bosse, it easily stands apart from just about any other wine in its value-driven class & is a screaming value that is not to be missed for Rhone-ophiles.

Vieille Julienne Cotes du Rhone 2004
No matter what the wine, Vieille Julienne gets my nod for the most pure, rounded wines of the appellation w/ their effortless sensibility and brilliant expression of place. A spicy, peppery bouquet of meat juices, fig, blackberry sauce and blue fruits is found in this ’04 Cotes du Rhone (that neighbors the Chateauneuf borders). In the mouth, while full of earthy, spice box laced elements, it is suave, wonderfully silky and poised to a T. This medium bodied, impeccably balanced Cotes du Rhone should drink beautifully well for the next 6-8 years, 89 points.

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