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Vieux Telegraphe Vieux Télégraphe 1996 Chateauneuf-du-Pape "La Crau" ($28.99)
Clear, dark ruby, with delicious aromas of fragrant black pepper, grilled meat, leather and dried fruit, this is classic Chateauneuf without the extreme earthiness found in some of its competitors like Beaucastel. The flavor is less evolved than the nose, bright and juicy plums and prunes, spicy pepper and soft tannins leaving a plummy, tart finish. Quite accessible now, especially with rare beef on the dinner plate. U.S. importer: Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, Calif. (June 21, 2000)

FOOD MATCH: Perfect with pan-grilled T-bones crusted with black pepper.

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All my wine-tasting reports are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores.

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