Something connected here. Maybe it was the -32C weather that made us appreciate the wines, food and company a little more than usual. Maybe it was the variety and dynamics of some of the wines. Maybe the wines were really just that good. All 4 wines had major critic scores of 90+, so expectations were high, yet the wines still delivered in spades – resulting in the highest group scores for some wines we’ve ever had, and some stellar QPR showing. The kind that required a quick tally of who wanted how many bottles of ‘D’. I scored 3 of the 4 92 or better. PLUS. Plus. How could I forget: I finally, for the first time EVER in our blind tastings, pegged all of the bottles correctly blind.
A: 1997 Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape
The evolution of this wine was astonishing. Decanted for 1.5 hrs, and was stinky, pruny/raisiny at first, with lots of horsebarn, cherry, and leather notes. With time, the funk diminished, and the approachability increased. Tasty and complex, with a fine sticky tannin, long finish of pennies. Light and thin, but seriously interesting wine that at about the 3-4 hr mark showed very well. 92
2005 Château de Saint Cosme Valbelle Gigondas
$50 Group Average Score: 92.8
A crowd pleaser, with a serious fruit quality that was undeniable. It also was showing something new every time – starting with beef jerky/pepper, then herbaceous, then raisin box, chlorine, then celery seed, then floral shop, finally landing on a chassis of gorgeous fruit. The palate was straight ahead and rich. Not a hedonism play: a finessy, quality-of-fruit, and complex wine. 92
2007 Perrin Réserve Côtes du Rhône
$13 Group Average Score 82.4
Previous vintages have been tasted before in our tastings. This vintage was scored 90 by WS, and for the price, it was a must-explore to see if it was appropriately hyped. It was good. Not excellent, or memorable in my opinion. First off, it’s tight. It did open after 3 hrs or so, and showed raisin, iron/blood on the nose. The finish is bitter, and it’s pretty average on the palate for me. WS 90. KK 84.
2005 Château Pesquié Quintessence
$29 Group Average Score 92.8
Despite the 90-point-for-$12 wine above, this one won the QPR winner of the evening. Rather oak-forward, it was skunky/perfumy, with tar and dark toasted oak notes. Clove and peppercorns, spice, and sweaty mitt hit me on the nose. It was seductive, despite those odd tasting notes. The palate is lovely, sexy, tasty, and an oak bomb. It’s a very lovable wine that was fun to revisit through the tasting, was hedonistic, and got rave reviews [88\92\94\94\96\96]. For under the $30 price point, this is one rock star of a wine.
Despite the affinity for red meats, as usual, I was simply damn tired of red meat and red wine for our tastings. So I went southern Rhone on the menu. Some garlic, tomato, olives, capers, olive oil, herbes de provence, an extra dash of lavender, chicken, on pasta. It was really nice. Of interest is that ‘D’ was big enough that it didn’t really work with the pasta – but worked with the olives. So if you run out and buy it, pair it with something big. The others all did fine matched up with the dish.