Plan Pegau "Lot 2001" Vin de Table Français ($13.99)
Labeled merely a "vin de table Français" because it comes from Southern Rhone vineyards not classified for Chateauneuf-du-Pape and a non-traditional mix of Syrah and Grenache with a bit of Merlot, this wine significantly exceeds expectations for the generic appellation. (Although vin de table is not authorized to bear a vintage date, the four-digit "lot number" manages to wink its way around that restriction.) Very dark reddish-purple, almost black in the glass, it offers a bowl of juicy, ripe berries, not easy to single out: Some raspberry, for sure, and maybe scents that evoke strawberry and blueberry as well, the kind of aroma that prompts people to ask, "How do they get all those fruit flavors out of grapes?" It's no mere "fruit bomb," though; the flavor follows through with a well-structured profile that adds fragrant pepper to all the fruit, then backs it up with crisp acidity, smooth tannins and a medium-bodied texture. If not overly long in the finish, that's a minor nit in an exceptionally impressive "table wine." US Importer: Hand Picked Selections, Warrenton, Va. (Sep 7, 2003)

FOOD MATCH: It made an excellent match with both grilled eggplant and lamb-burgers with Near Eastern spice.



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