Wine Tasting Report



 

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Three 1998 Chateauneuf-du-Papes
Some experts will tell you never to buy wines based on the vintage, arguing that this kind of advice is too broad to be useful. In a year as consistent as 1998 in the Southern Rhone, however, a general "buy" signal based on vintage is hard to ignore. I've been tasting my way through many of the Chateauneufs as they arrive and haven't found a klunker yet. Today's tasting report features three more:

Le Vieux Donjon Le Vieux Donjon 1998 Chateauneuf-du-Pape ($26.99)
Very dark garnet, with black pepper and black fruit, plums and sour cherries on the nose and palate. Mouth-filling and structured, fresh fruit and substantial tannins. Drinking well, especially with red meat, but like most of the bigger '98 Chateauneufs, it really needs cellar time. U.S. importer: Wines of France, Mountainside, N.J.; an Alain Junguenet Selection. (Sept. 12, 2000)

FOOD MATCH: Red-wine-marinated lamb leg steaks briefly seared on the charcoal grill make a natural match.

Clos des Papes Clos des Papes 1998 Chateauneuf-du-Pape ($29.99)
Dark ruby, with fresh mixed-berry fruit and fragrant pepper aromas, forward and appealing. Peppery black fruit flavor follows the nose, big and ripe. Tart acidity and firm tannins provide structure and promise longevity, but the accessible fruit makes it very approachable now. U.S. importer: Wines of France, Mountainside, N.J.; an Alain Junguenet Selection. (Sept. 19, 2000)

FOOD MATCH: Fine with grilled lamb steaks.

Domaine des Relagnes Domaine des Relagnes 1998 Chateauneuf-du-Pape ($22.99)
Clear ruby-black. Pepper and a distinct vegetal note of green bell peppers over black-cherry fruit; fragrant pepper and ripe fruit flavors, fresh and tart, some tannins present. Pleasant but not as big or "chewy" as most of the '98s I've been tasting. U.S. importer: Wines of France, Mountainside, N.J.; an Alain Junguenet Selection. (Sept. 11, 2000)

FOOD MATCH: Works well with chopped-lamb and fennel ravioli in a fresh tomato-and-basil velouté.

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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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