We gathered at a local restaurant, Bonita, for a meal and to taste a couple of mature 1998 Chateauneuf du Papes:
1998 Beaucastel – this has always had a reputation for being forward and for having less than the customary proportion of Mouvedre. It had an immediately attractive but simple fruit nose, a bit sweet and ripe, and the entry was also surprisingly sweet. The wine has pretty much resolved the tannins and while it was mellow on palate, and quite ready to drink, I found it disappointing in the context of just about any other vintage of Beaucastel. How could such a good maker manage to create such a middling wine in such an outstanding vintage?
1998 Vieux Donjon – this is one of my favourites and I’ve been opening a bottle every year or two to keep an eye on things (I have a couple of cases stashed for when it hit plateau). The good news is it is now there! Funkier nose with dark berry fruit, developing some pepper and meaty tones with time in the glass, and some black olive and leather hints. Medium bodied with good fruit levels and a slight terminal astringency, finishing with good length, and still fairly firm tannins that actually seemed to harden a bit and assert themselves as the wine opened up. No rush but I’m going to start enjoying this whenever I like as it has arrived!