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Senior editor James Molesworth joined Wine Spectator in 1997. He reviews Bordeaux, the Loire, the Rhône, South Africa and New York's Finger Lakes.
James Molesworth

A 10-Year-Old Syrah Just Reaching Its Peak

R. Rostaing Côte-Rôtie 1999

James Molesworth
Posted: February 19, 2010

Determined to get my Syrah fix, I was briefly foiled by a corky 1998 Rostaing, which continued a recent unfortunate run of corky bottles I’ve come across from this Northern Rhône producer. I then opened a bottle of ’99 and was nicely rewarded.

The ’99 vintage was a stellar one for the Côte-Rôtie appellation, producing rich, dark wines that are just hitting their stride now. This bottling showed the vintage’s typically dark, mulled black cherry and olive notes, with mouthwatering acidity still driving it all. The finish then let white pepper and lavender hints chime in, typical of the Rostaing style, with the fruit smoldering on nicely. I gave it 93 points, non-blind, and in line with when I tasted a retrospective of ’99 Côte-Rôties (see the article and the full tasting notes) in the Nov. 30, 2008, issue.

Vintner René Rostaing is a quiet modernist—he adds a few new casks to his cellar each year for just a touch of new oak, and he does have a rotofermentor to keep the cap of grape solids and juice mixed during fermentation to better extract the color and tannins. But he basically practices hands-off vinification, and his wines take on a decidedly terroir-driven profile as they age, as evidenced in this 10-year-old wine.

WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for R. Rostaing Côte-Rôtie 1999 (93, $75 on release).

• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated wines from Côte-Rôtie.

William Keene
North Carolina —  February 20, 2010 9:06am ET

Thanks for the note. It is a little distressing to read about the corked bottles as I have a few bottles of Rostaing, notably a 1998 La Landonne. Corked or not, it's my only bottle, so I have been sitting on it. I would assume that it is getting close to being ready. Would you hold for another year or two or do think this is something that would be okay to drink sooner? Thanks in advance.
James Molesworth
Senior Editor, Wine Spectator —  February 21, 2010 8:20am ET
William: Yes, the run of corky bottles has been a drag - hopefully your sole '98 won't fall victim as well. The '98s have a lot of structure, more angular than the '99s. I think they are hitting their peak, but no rush on the top wines such as Rostaing's Landonne. Any time over the next 2-4 years it should be fine..
John Nelson
Dallas, Texas —  February 22, 2010 5:30pm ET
I have several of the 03 and 05 Rostaing Cote Blonde and La Landonne and was curious about the drinking windows for them. I have been told by a trusted palate that 10 years of age is a good starting point. Would you agree? Or do your tasting notes windows apply?
James Molesworth
Senior Editor, Wine Spectator —  February 22, 2010 6:12pm ET
John: I think you friend and I are on the same page. My drink rec windows for the '03 and '05 Rostaing wines are now through 2020 and 2023/25 respectively...the '03s and '05s are really shut down now - I suspect they'll reemerge in about 5 years and then go from there....enjoy!

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