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Senior editor Alison Napjus joined Wine Spectator in 2000. She is the lead taster for Alsace, Beaujolais and Champagne and also tastes wines from regions throughout Italy.
Alison Napjus

A Rhône Red Aging Gracefully

Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape La Crau 2003

Alison Napjus
Posted: November 19, 2010

An impromptu cork-popping session at my apartment this weekend, when I was not sufficiently stocked up, had me down to my “save for later” stash. Luckily, we didn’t have to go too far into that stockpile, but I decided to open a bottle of Vieux Télégraphe’s 2003 Châteauneuf-du-Pape La Crau.

Of the eight bottles I purchased back in 2005 (for only $41 a bottle at that time), this was the second I opened. The first was a few years ago—and I clearly jumped the gun at the time because the wine was still big and brawny. Now this red clearly still has a long life ahead of it, but it’s starting to hint at the integration that fine Châteauneuf can achieve. It displayed fruit flavors of crème de cassis, plum preserves and raspberry coulis, mixed with lots of spice box, pipe smoke and stony mineral notes. But it was the silky tannins and fine integration of the wine’s juicy acidity that won me over. I gave it 94 points, non-blind, and I’ll probably drink my remaining bottles in the 2012 to 2025 range. It was definitely the highlight of Saturday’s bottle parade.

WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape La Crau 2003 (93, $45).

• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated Châteauneuf-du-Pape reds, along with our quick list of Top Values among Rhône reds.

Aaron Meeker
Kansas City, KS —  November 19, 2010 10:14am ET

I love V.T. Quite surprising (and happy at the same time) that you believe the 03's have what it takes to age nicely and develop.

What about the wine made you think that?

Jared Herman
Westport, CT —  November 19, 2010 12:58pm ET

Was curious to know how you think the Telegraphe stacks up to the Donjon. the 98s, to me, are fantastic.
Alison Napjus
New York, NY —  November 19, 2010 1:10pm ET
Hi Aaron,
For me, one of the attributes that marks a wine as one for the cellar is its balance. I remember thinking when I tried the 2003 VT on release that despite being a powerhouse, it still showed fine integration of all its parts--something that seemed even more evident now that's it's been in bottle for a few years.
Thanks, Alison.
Tim Sinniger
Bend, Oregon —  November 21, 2010 12:44am ET
I am pleased that a 2003 CDP is showing well currently. I too probably jumped the gun a couple of years ago by opening Cuvee Vatican, Guigal and Pierre Usseglio & Fils. The balance are resting nicely and I am thrilled that you feel that they are integrating nicely.

Still not sure that 2003 is a long lived vintage, but your current assessment is helpful.

David Cable
Santa Barbara —  November 21, 2010 3:38pm ET
2003, being an especially hot year, it is very pleasing to see one of the best wines we get from Kermit Lynch is still holding up nicely. Just think how well this wine in more balanced vintages will age! It is a favorite every year, and I was surprised not to see it in the top 10 again this year.

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