Cave de Saint-Désirat 1995 Saint-Joseph Cuvée Côte-Diane ($25.00)
Returning home from the Rhone and feeling nostalgic, I pulled out this little beauty, which proved to be mature but still youngish, although not really a wine meant for extremely long aging. (I don't have the price, but I didn't buy it all that long ago - I think it was in an "older stuff that we want to move" basket for $25 or so. In looking for comparative prices, I note that Wine-Searcher.com lists only one or two 1995 Saint-Josephs, in the $50 range.) Very dark garnet, almost black, with a clear reddish-violet edge. Youthful looking, no hint of brown. Good, typical Northern Rhone Syrah - red-berry fruit and spice backed by earthy notes of game, animal fur and smoke, but sweet red fruit is dominant in the nose even a decade after the vintage. Ripe and juicy fruit flavors carry out the aroma's promise, supported by good lemon-squirt acidity and soft, integrated tannins. If there's any flaw, it's a soft finish that loses its acidic snap and closes with a whisper, but that's a minor quibble in a mighty fine wine. US Importer: Hand Picked Selections, Warrenton, Va. (Jun 15, 2005)

FOOD MATCH: Flatiron steaks "Veracruzana-style," dusted with black pepper and red chile powders and marinated in lime and grapefruit juices with a touch of soy.

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