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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A few favorite producers in Chateauneuf alongside an absolute favorite Champagne

Clos des Goisses 1999
Boy is this an exceptionally young Champagne or what?! Undoubtedly a bubbly that is crammed w/ long-term potential, a glimpse into the bouquet reveals honeyed citrus, green apple peel, smoke and warm brioche notes that take quite a bit of coaxing to unfurl. An awesome, yet backward mouth-full of stone and chalk dust permeate the palate w/ energy and vigor, leaving me w/ the impression of the essence of minerality. As the Champagne airs, it kicks into a subtly nutty gear, as the mousse stretches out, showcasing its awesome length and penetration. The quality and class are unmistakable, yet this vintage needs at least 6-8 more years of bottle age to reach a comfortable drinking window, 94+ points.

Vieille Julienne Vieilles Vignes 2000
Those looking for a 2000 Chateauneuf w/ long term ageability, look no further than to Vieille Julienne. Their entire line-up is much more closed than most, but can be enjoyed now if you are patient enough to watch them over time in the glass. The Vieilles Vignes (only made in ’98, ’00 and ’01) has a hypnotic perfume that slowly trickles out a sweet core of cassis, black currant paste, crushed violets, melted licorice, incense and allspice notes. The sheer first growth-like sense of refinement is evident in the attack, as the wine uncoils a textural overlay of exquisite beauty w/ nary a rough edge to be found. Sumptuous, primary and dazzlingly pure to the finish; where a fresh, minty note chimes in and seems to linger for as long as minute. This is really poised for the cellar and I think another 3-5 years is necessary, but it should keep for at least 15 after that, 96+ points.

Vieille Julienne Reserve, '99
Trademark creme de cassis nose of Vieille Julienne pops from the glass, w/ an exotic flicker of blueberry, violet and high class tobacco making an appearance in the bouquet. The palate is effortless & super-suave, seamlessly gliding along an uber-refined bed of tannins (which are surprisingly powerful for the vintage). As the wine sits in the glass, a river of mouth-watering acidity lets alluring bittersweet cocoa & garrigue notes chime in on the finish. This is a pristine performance that is in its prime, yet should provide plenty of sex appeal for the next decade, 95 points. Come to think of it, this vintage really began the almost un-interrupted run of quality for the domaine (the '98 was solid, but lagged behind the best of the vintage) and is easily one of the best wines of the vintage.

Charvin '06
This vintage played right into the hands of Laurent, providing plenty of forward, fresh fruit in a way that this domaine always seems to take full advantage of. '06 is easily a superior vintage to '05 and '04 for Charvin, w/ a lively bouquet of crushed raspberry, espresso roast, sweet cherry liqueur and spicy herb notes. The palate is pure, polished and as seamless as any Grenache based wine could hope to be, w/ an effortless vein of minerality pumping under the beam of pure cherry fruit. This is surprisingly precocious but should cruise in the cellar for 15 years w/o shutting down as the '01 has, 94 points.

Marcoux Domaine & Selection '03 CDP
Marcoux has hit a total home run w/ every one of their '03 cuvees, though each is stylistically very distinct from one another. The vineyard came into Marcoux's hands in '99 and this selection, mostly Grenache, sees some small barrel aging. The aromas reveal the intensity of the vintage, w/ spicecake, grilled duck and macerated black cherry scents emerging from the glass. In contrast to the warmth of the nose, the palate is surprisingly spry, w/ high toned raspberry fruit gracing its way over the bed of tannins, finishing w/ good lift and a mouthwatering focus, 91 points.

The token ringer:

Tablas Esprit Beaucastel Rouge '06
The epiitome of France in California yet again, as I'd easily be fooled that this was a southern Rhone blend from CDP or Gigondas if this was served blind to me. The aromas of cracked pepper, kirsch, cedar, anise and tree bark are all there, reeled in w/ a moderately tannic, chewy mouthfeel. While this isn't a top vintage of this cuvee (as the acidity is keyed up and the finish tails off a tad quicker than usual), it's breed and finesse are as clear as European day, 91 points.


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