While I have several notes for old LaLas and Beaucastel, the Rhone is still pioneer territory for me compared to Bordeaux, Burgundy and Germany. And so a weekend tasting here in Dallas with Rhone as the theme was most welcome. Following are notes in order taken. I did my best but with the sheer number of wines on the table I often only got a brief glimpse.
2017 Guffens-Heynen Pouilly-Fuissé Premier Jus des Hauts des Vignes
medium yellow color, apple and orange notes on the pure Chardonnay nose, on the palate quite firm with some cream already showing, very slightly honeyed slate notes, stones, limes, fine long finish, very impressive and most attractive, a little cellar time should bring good things.
**(), now to 2027+
2015 Rene Rostaing Côte-Rôtie Cuvée Classique Ampodium
good deep purple red color, tight young nose, cherries, licorice, blackberries, dark earth, on the palate young and quite tannic leading into a long dry finish, with 2 hours of airing plum notes, intense cloves, strawberries and young bramble notes, punchy fruit with all the signs of wonderful tertiary delights to come, an attractive drink right now but there is quite a bit yet to come.
2008 Dom Pérignon Champagne
bright young champagne color, generous sweet nose, ripe fruit with the classic Dom marshmallow tone now fully showing, white flowers, on the palate ripe and wild orange notes with toasted walnuts leading into a long lime-laden finish that notably less aggressive than in the past- though still quite potent, superb lingering fragrance on the finish, generous and almost overflowing on the palate- the wine is the most approachable it has been yet and so incredibly alluring that one almost fails to notice its impressive mass and scale, still a very long road to maturity but finally reaching a point where it is just as enjoyable as it is impressive.
2015 Domaine de la Vieille Julienne Châteauneuf-du-Pape Reserve
Decanted 4 hours in advance and it still took a further 3 hours to even begin to show.
young deep red color, muted cherry nose dominated by oak, on the palate stinging oak at first- intense and raw- covering a dense ripe cherry fruit, slight hints of dark herbs, 7 hours after decanting it finally opened- much better balance now but the oak is still much stronger than I would normally like, blazing cherry fruit with kirsch notes, grand and dramatic but showing little diversity of elements, the Southern Rhone is not an area of great strength for me- but even so this was tasted among many of its peers and while it is one of the bigger wines on the table there is little to suggest it will develop the subtle delights one expects of a great wine with age, time will tell- at the very least this will be a big and ripe wine fruit-wise (kind of like Harlan), but if a good balance of tertiary delights come into play along with a mellowing of the oak- then this will indeed be quite impressive someday, taking into account my limited experience in this realm- my “call it as I see it” take is that this is more likely to go down the former path.
(**)? for now, ****+ best case scenario, either way I think there is a long wait ahead to know for sure, 2030 at the very least
2018 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage La Chapelle
Decanted 4 hours prior to tasting
deepest purple color, luscious nose of black fruits, white chalk and licorice, on the palate sensationally good, ripe, robust, dark spice tones already in full evidence, young, primary and seamless, over the course of 3 hours it slowly opened to reveal wild chalk and game notes as the deep, dark and intense fruit impressed and even thrilled, as the prior TN poster has indicated- this is indeed very much worthy of the high praise that has been heaped upon it and promises to be a legendary vintage for this storied wine.
(*****), 2033++ but if you have several bottles now is a fun time to give one a try before it shuts down
1997 E. Guigal Côte-Rôtie La Turque
deep purple color just starting to brick at the edges, on the nose forest floor, genteel dark fruits, on the palate a beautiful and persistent black cherry that remains quite primary at the core but with forest notes emerging around the edges, pronounced chalk note to keep things lively, bramble, still very young and intense with many sharp edges but aging beautifully, after a recent encounter with a couple of the 1999 La Las I have been worried about whether the current vintages will age into the graceful and delightful renderings of the 1970s- but this encounter with the 1997 La Turque has me confident that while the La Las may start off a bit bigger these days, they have the balance and stuffing to eventually follow in the footsteps of their predecessors.
1998 Château de la Gardine Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Aged red with bricking rim, a quiet nose of cherry fruits, on the palate genteel and aged, light crushed herb notes, good finish, a soft voice at a table of outspoken peers- but still a pleasant and enjoyable fruit-driven wine.
***+, drink up
2009 Sine Qua Non Grenache Upside Down
deep purple red color, soaring nose of dreamy cherries and blueberry foam, on the palate decadently spicy with deep and dark licorice-coated fruits, a very firm structure holds it all brilliantly in place, racy long finish with just a bit of warmth on the very tail end, AFWE as I am- somehow I always find I enjoy SQNs- especially when served among their more traditional brethren as was the case tonight, they are big and at times seem almost caricatures, but even the whimsical can be elevated to greatness in the right hands and with the right mindset, I enjoyed this very much and it added a great and unique dimension to the evening.
****, ready to go and time in hand
2000 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape
bright red color with aging rim, polished nose of game and black cherries, cloves, on the palate punchy and ripe fruit with a compelling note of saddle leather, dark spices, mature but vibrant and with many years ahead.
****, ready to go and time in hand
2004 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape
deepish red color just starting to show signs of age, nose of meat and saddle leather with dark cherries, on the palate a well balanced and almost civilized Beaucastel, lively cherries on the palate, kirsch, good bramble notes developing with time, fine ripe finish.
()+, now to 2030+
2001 E. Guigal Châteauneuf-du-Pape
medium red with aging rim, cherries and dried herbs on the nose, moss, on the palate a ripe sweet cherry fruit, some game notes, fully mature with a finish of moderate length showing some heat on the end, a pleasant and enjoyable wine but drink soon as the finish is starting to crack a bit.
***, drink soon.
2009 Jacob Toft Tessa’s Cuvee Torrin Vineyard
deep red purple color, gravelly textures on nose, fresh cut hay, dark fruits, on the palate very racy and dry, not excessively so- but still a very strong structure framing sharp chalky edges amid which flows a beautiful and sensuous array of dark berries, cherries and plums, a singular and wonderful wine I am encountering for the first time, this would be an excellent choice to accompany a massive steak dinner.
***+, ready to go and time in hand
2009 Jacob Toft Sarah’s Cuvee
deep red purple color, a cool nose of blueberries- gentler than the Tessa but no less potent, on the palate a calming dark cherry and blueberry fruit rippling over eroded banks of white chalk, a fine richness overall with a good long finish.
****, ready to drink but time in hand
2006 Domaine de la Janasse Châteauneuf-du-Pape
deep red color, young nose, wild cherries with spicy oak, rolling waves of full bodied fruit, elegant and lush, zesty chalk and licorice notes with some hints of dark chocolate, really wonderful wine that seems to be quite young still but very enjoyable even though subtle delights should come with additional age.
(), now to 2030++
2013 Kongsgaard Syrah Hudson Vineyard
deepish young red color, cherries and blueberries on the nose with gravel and stone textures, on the palate ripe fruit with sweet smoked venison, cherry, blackberry, grey marble, fine long deep finish with great persistence, this rings high on the hedonism meter and yet there is also a serious and classic structure behind it all, some tertiary earth notes come with time, one of the best wines of the night and destined for greatness if this develops more tertiary aromatics and flavors with a few additional years in bottle.
1998 Château Mont-Redon Châteauneuf-du-Pape
medium red with bricking rim, cherries, pine needles and underbrush on the nose, on the palate glowing wild cherries- aged and elegant with a marvelous persistence, moss, soft bramble, forest floor, a really beautiful wine, relaxing, succulent, sublime, at the end of a tasting populated by titans and big personalities- this shone brightly for being simply beautiful and just right in every little way.
*****, ready to drink and I would drink within the next 5 years