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I have a deep cellar of wines so finding gems that have aged is what I like to do. a few nights ago a few friends of mine and I decided to do the post turkey day dinner at Pamplemousse Grille (I can walk there and the food and staff are so wine friendly) to share some plates of salad, a bowl of Turkey day stuffing and a surprise from Chef Jeffrey Strauss, double stuffed balls, lighly crusted and fried, with his famous Thanksgiving Day stuffing and foie gras--Yummy.
Two of the wines were from 1999 Rhone harvest support the idea of cellaring wines that are from upcoming regions. As a fan of Rhone wines since the mid eighties, I am never surprised by their ability to age eleganntly, nor am I surprised at how they change after five years or more in the bottle. The ethereal Les Pallieres Gigondas and the Vieux Mas des Papes, a mostly Grenache based Chateuneuf du Pape from the same folks who bring you Vieux Telegraphe, prove that point over and over again.
The 199 Gigondas' are so drinkable now I've been going through them at a rate of one or two per month, simply because they seem to be drinking so perfectly now. While normally a Gigondas has stoney flavors, this wine has transcended and is a silky, almost sensual style that one normally finds in young Liracs, but not from the Gigondas wines. It is rich in blueberry, black raspberry and raspberry flavors, with a hint on lavender. It drinks elegantly and is one to always cherish. The wine, which is largely Grenache, with a helping of Syrah just goes from strength with each bottle.
The 1999 Vieux Mas des Papes is very different from a recently enjoyed 2000 that I recently opened. While the 2000 is less florla and would be thought to be more angular, the 1999 is multidemsional in it's body, fruit and flavor. It too is drinking very smoothly, and like the Les Pallieres, one that you won't keep your hands off of too long.
While I suspect there's another five to seven years of life left to the Vieux Mas des Papes (with proper cellaring) I doubt you'd want to wait, as it has lost it's young tannic shell, the light spritz of the Grenache is gone, and the Mourvedre component has given it the length and structure it needs to have aged so well. Sagebrush, saddle leather, meaty body, cherries and black fruit mark the wines body, wth a nice bouquet of Provencal herb and a hint of pain grille (toasted bread) finish it off.
Last night here at the house the 2002 Mas de Gourgourier Le Baux de Provence didn't dissapoint anyone. The Rhone blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Carignan, and more likely has some Cinsault, Merlot and likely some Carignan in the blend. It drinks like a Bordeaux, not a Rhone, with that violets and cigar box flavor. Smooth and easy to drink, this is an example of bio-dynamic and organic growing, and cellar treatment. Not a lot of intervention here. Just great fruit, well blended parts and the ability to age and mature.
Having a deep cellar helps. Having friends to share them with, a wonderful chef who had his training in Provence, well that's the whole purpose of Les Amis de Vin.