Vintage Voice

Boston Wine Expo 2000


France


LOIRE

Domaine des Baumard Cremant de Loire (Blue Label) NV -- Made from Chenin Blanc, this wine shows somewhat coarse bubbles, but with elegant, restrained apple and pear aromas and flavors. A good value in sparkling wine.
B

Domaine des Baumard Savennières '95 -- Interesting nose of ripe peaches with stony and waxy nuances. Full and round in the mouth, but seems tense and tightly wound. Peach and mineral notes dominate, and there is good acidity. Leave this wine alone for a few years, and you will appreciate the results.
B+

Domaine des Baumard Cuvée le Paon Coteaux du Layon '89 -- The label doesn't mention "Paon" at all; you just have to notice the picture of a Peacock ("paon" in French). Expressive nose of ripe peaches and minerals, with complex flavors of sweet peaches, apricots and stones. A long finish with lots of apricot flavor and plenty of acidity to keep this sweet wine from being cloying. Many people tend to forget that lots of excellent wine was made in the Loire before the hype over recent vintages started in 1995, which just leaves more for the rest of us.
A

Domaine des Baumard Quarts de Chaume '94 -- Sweet pears and peaches provide the fruit aromas, while waxy notes and a dollop of fresh corn masa furnish some complexity. Fills the mouth with apricot, peach and pear flavors, and a long mouth-coating finish, with plenty of acidity. Maybe this isn't quite as good as some of the later vintages of this decade, but it's still very good.
A-

Domaine des Baumard Logis de la Giraudière Anjou '96 -- A 100% Cabernet Franc wine, as are many red wines from Anjou, showing corn tortilla and chile pepper aromas in a sharply defined nose. Modest cherry flavors, and smooth with little tannin. Could be a little more concentrated.
B

Pascal Jolivet Sancerre '98 -- Smells sweet, with pear and citrus notes, but it is definitely a normal, dry Sancerre in the mouth, with fairly simple grapefruit flavors. Seems thin, particularly when compared to other recent vintages (that I enjoyed much more) from this producer.
B

RHONE (BLANC)

Chateau Fortia Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc '98 -- Seems rather neutral on the nose with vaguely maderized aromas. Has some interest in the mouth, with floral and peach flavors.
B-

E. Guigal Côtes-du-Rhône Blanc '98 -- Surprisingly neutral, with some floral aromas and vaguely peachy flavors, but not much else to recommend it. Disappointing from this producer.
C+

E. Guigal Condrieu '98 -- Floral nose, but not intensely so. Some alcohol also shows up. Oak and peach flavors dominate, with a lean, flat peach finish. Another disappointment, after having tasted many successes.
B-

E. Guigal Hermitage Blanc '95 -- Made from 99% Marsanne and 1% Roussanne, this wine shows some of the complex aromas and flavors associated with age. There is still plenty of primary peach fruit, along with mineral flavors and vanilla. A very nice wine that has some time left.
B+

RHONE (ROUGE)

Chateau de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape '96 -- There's a hint of barnyard in the nose, but unlike some previous years, it isn't dominant, and adds some complexity to the leather, spice and plum aromas. Concentrated spicy plum and black cherry flavors, but not as much tannin as I would have expected.
B+

Chateau Fortia Châteauneuf-du-Pape '96 -- Beautiful aromas of plum, violets and a hint of orange. Big and bold plum and earth flavors, with a good tannic backbone.
B+

Chateau Fortia Châteauneuf-du-Pape '98 -- Earth, leather, black cherry and violets make for an enticing aromas. And this wine delivers on the palate, with large-scale plum, black cherry and earth flavors. Quite tannic, so I think this will be better with a few years of age.
A-

E. Guigal Côtes-du-Rhône Rouge '97 -- Nice aromas of leather, cherries and plums, but a rather thin, acidic palate, with a little bit of plum. Quite tannic for the amount of fruit.
B-

E. Guigal Côtes-du-Rhône Rouge '96 -- Much nicer than the '97, this wine shows a bigger, more powerful nose of tobacco, plums and fresh meat. Round plum and tobacco flavors lead to a slightly tart cherry finish. An excellent value.
B+

E. Guigal Gigondas '96 -- Seems shy and closed, with not much perceptible to my nose other than alcohol aromas. Better in the mouth, with round plum and leather flavors, leading to a short finish.
B

E. Guigal Côte Rôtie Brune et Blonde '96 -- Huge, but tightly wound, nose of fresh meat, leather and plums, with a hint of violets. The aromas are echoed with plenty of force in the mouth, and there are ample tannins to give a solid structure for aging. On a par with the excellent '95.
A-

Paul Jaboulet-Ainé Crozes-Hermitage Les Jalets '97 -- Surprisingly, this wine is more interesting than the '97 Thalabert reviewed below, and is also less expensive. Violets and black cherries are the primary aromas, with good plum and black cherry fruit in the mouth. Slightly acidic on the finish, so I'd drink this with food.
B

Paul Jaboulet-Ainé Crozes-Hermitage Domaine de Thalabert '97 -- Plum and leather aromas, and modest, round plum and cherry flavors. Not particularly tannic, and disappointingly simple, given the producer and bottling.
B

Mas de Boislauzon Châteauneuf-du-Pape '96 -- Smells like black cherries, plums, leather, black pepper and anise. The flavors seem almost elegant, compared to the many brutally powerful wines from this appellation. Nicely balanced, with flavors of black cherries, plums, leather and spice, and a long, generous finish.
B+

Mas de Boislauzon Châteauneuf-du-Pape '97 -- Leather and earth dominate the nose, though some plum and cherry fruit shows through. Tastes like black cherries, spice and butter.
B

Mas de Boislauzon Châteauneuf-du-Pape '98 -- Prunes and mint form the primary aromas. Seems slightly simple on the tongue, but with lush prune and plum flavor. Not particularly tannic.
B

Domaine Moulin-Tacussel Châteauneuf-du-Pape '95 -- Pruney and spicy on the nose. Big and almost Port-like sensation in the mouth with prune and plum flavors. Not particularly tannic, and seems to be missing a little intensity on the finish.
B+

Domaine Moulin-Tacussel Châteauneuf-du-Pape '98 -- Leather and prune aromas entice you, and the big flavors of plums, leather and game don't disappoint. Smooth at first, but shows a strong tannic grip on the vanilla and black cherry finish.
A-

Perrin Côtes-du-Rhône Reserve '98 -- Dark purple color with plum, black cherry and earth aromas and flavors. Plenty of smooth round tannins, too.
B+

Perrin Châteauneuf-du-Pape Les Simards '97 -- Interesting nose of earth, leather, tobacco and plum, with smooth plum, leather and earth flavors. Moderate tannins make me think that this wine might be better young than old, but it's very nice to drink now.
B+

Domaine Pontifical Châteauneuf-du-Pape '98 -- Sweet prune, plum, black cherry and spice aromas. Good, concentrated fruit flavors, with more plum and cherry, along with a hint of blackberry and anise. Firm tannins on the mouthfilling finish.
A-

Domaine Raspail-Ay Gigondas Reserve '97 -- Smells like black olives and tobacco. Smooth plum and black cherry flavors. Not much tannin, so I would drink this fairly soon.
B

Domaine des Relagnes Châteauneuf-du-Pape '97 -- Cherry and leather aromas, with full, round spice, oak, cherry and plum flavors. Not very tannic, this wine will drink well young, and it's quite nice now.
B+

Domaine des Relagnes Châteauneuf-du-Pape '98 -- Floral notes on the nose along with plum and cherry aromas. Tastes of cherry, fresh meat, plum and leather, with good intensity, and a firm, tannic finish. Hold onto this one for a few years.
B+

Domaine Pierre Usseglio et Fils Châteauneuf-du-Pape '97 -- Leather and earth aromas, with smooth plum and black cherry flavors. Not a big wine, but very pleasant to drink now.
B+

Domaine Pierre Usseglio et Fils Châteauneuf-du-Pape '98 -- Very interesting aromas of violets, plums and anise. Lots of lush plum flavors, along with leather and earth. Strong tannic backbone suggests that this wine is one to keep for a while.
A-

Domaine Pierre Usseglio et Fils Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée de Mon Aieul '98 -- Made from old vines, this wine shows plenty of dusty fruit character , with plum, cherries and earth aromas. Smooth black fruit flavors, with a little spiciness and dustiness, firm tannins, and a long-lasting plum-dominated aftertaste. More concentrated than the regular bottling.
A-

La Vieille Ferme Côtes du Ventoux '97 -- A very neutral wine, with little fruit, but no other obviously negative qualities, either.
C

Vieux Donjon Châteauneuf-du-Pape '97 -- Cherry and spice aromas, with cherry, earth and leather flavors. Tongue-abrading tannins dominate the finish, making me wonder whether the fruit will outlive them.
B

Vieux Donjon Châteauneuf-du-Pape '98 -- Dark, inky purple color. Seems backward, with reticent aromas of plum, fresh meat, and violets. Lots of plum and cherry fruit is hiding in this wine, with a good dose of spicy oak. A big wine, with firm tannins on the lingering finish.
A-


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