I just got excited over a flight of Côtes du Rhône, not exactly the wines I normally get fired up over. Sure, there are plenty of good ones, and even the occasional outstanding one. They’re great with bistro fare or when you want to knock something back without paying big bucks or having to think too much about it. But exciting?
Except for the flight I had today – all 2004s, among which there were several 90+-point bottles, and many in the 88- to 89-point range. Since most of these wines retail for $12 to $20, that’s a lot of bang for the buck.
Though it’s a broad category, Côtes du Rhône can usually give you a good read on the quality of the wines from the southern Rhône in general. And this flight (among others this week) did just that, as it helped to strengthen my impression of the 2004 vintage in the southern Rhône after tasting at many domaines there in March.
The key points are:
1. The 2004 vintage is marked by its pure, racy fruit. Raspberry and boysenberry are terms I kept using in my notes, along with graphite and violets. The wines show fine minerality and acidity too. The vintage is very much like ’99 in that regard, but bigger.
2. The 2004 vintage is far more consistent in the south, especially for those areas outside of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, than 2003. In 2003, many CdPs excelled, but the outlying appellations were wildly inconsistent, with many wines showing cooked fruit notes, or tannins that were too rugged. That’s not the case in 2004, and for me, a consistent performance from top to bottom is what a great vintage is all about.
I’ve tentatively scored the ’04 southern Rhone vintage at 92-95 points, which looks to be right-on as I taste more and more of the wines each day. (I taste in flights of about 20, and I have flights lined up all through next week.)
Want more good news? Prices seem to be holding steady, or are even a little lower than their ’03 counterparts. So far, the ’04 southern Rhônes have been overlooked in the American market, no small thanks to the overheated ’05 Bordeaux hype.
So, did you earmark some cash for the ‘04 southern Rhônes? If you did, you’ll be happy.
Dale Reineke — Kohler, WI — July 19, 2006 5:33pm ET
Dan Jaworek — Chicago — July 20, 2006 8:17am ET
Alfred Gregori — July 20, 2006 8:31am ET
James Molesworth — July 20, 2006 9:38am ET
Ron Raich — baltimore — July 20, 2006 11:48am ET
Michael Culley — July 21, 2006 10:27am ET
James Molesworth — July 21, 2006 11:51am ET
Paul Romero — San Jose, CA, — July 26, 2006 2:59pm ET
James Molesworth — July 27, 2006 9:05am ET
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