Several Southern Rhone wines have appeared in our Friday night blind tasting from the 98 vintage. At first they were all Chateauneuf du Pape’s from Vieux Telegraph. These came along over a period of 6 weeks or so from different collections. The wine had a very distinct quality that we all found likeable but many might consider a defect. It had a very strong “mouvedre rusticity”, usually found in the finish in such wines, and much less pronounced. These 98’s had them starting in mid palate and overstated. It almost tasted “mediciny”, like iodine.

I was quite surprised this past friday when another such wine appeared blind. I immediately guessed it as another 98 Vieux Telegraph, but it turned out to be a Vacqueras, Sang des Cailloux, a wine we much like and respect. And guess what? It was the 98 vintage. Vacqureas is not all that far away from Ch. du Pape. Thus it appears that this mediciny, mouvedre thing may be a common denominator for wines from the 98 vintage from that region.

Larry Johansen, owner of Wine Wizard’s was disappointed by the Vacqueras in particular, which he considers a superior wine to the Vieux Telegraph. Sang du Cailloux certainly gives you more bang for your buck since it is so much cheaper than its more illustrious counterpart. Still, that mouvedre rusticity, only found in the soil of Provence, and also present in Domaine Tempier Bandol, is an acquired taste. And for those of us who know it well, overstatement of this feature is akin to “over-fishy caviar”, or other some such flavor that many may not like, but we do.

M. Senegor