Notes from a Rhone tasting:

1993 Ch. de Beaucastel Vielles Vignes Roussanne – this wine is made in
small amounts and brings a big price tag with it, but they seem to go
on for years and years and get more and more interesting. An amber
bronze colour, with a waxy honey nose that later opened to offer a
pronounced fig component. Smooth on palate and excellent length,
finishing smoky and quite dry. Love these wines.

I served a spicy vegetable and sausage soup and the food seemed to
complement the wine surprisingly well.

1988 Robert Michel Cornas La Geynale – I figured that few of these
guys had ever tasted a really mature Cornas and that they might have a
hard time guessing it. Some white pepper and anise in the nose and
maybe a bit of leather, surprisingly smooth and even elegant, neither
of which are descriptors normally associated with Cornas. Round in the
mouth, with the raw tannins of youth fully resolved. My last bottle.

I served up a mushroom melange with thyme, cream, bacon, onion and
both cremini and chanterelles. That sort of food works so well with
either Burgundy or Rhones.

1998 Ch. des Tours Grand Reserve Cotes du Rhone – nice raspberry nose,
good colour, sweet entry, then decent fruit and soft tannins.
Probably a little long in the tooth but stil very decent.

1998 Dom. La Roquette CNduP – this Brunier wine is fully mature but
holding well. Mix of mushroom, berry and tar in the nose, fresh berry
fruit on palate and elegant ready presentation.

Clos de l’Oratoire CNduP – perplexing wine, for it gave very little on
the nose and seemed tight on palate. A medium weight wine that was
simply inexpressive at this point.

1999 Dom. du Pere Pape la Crau de Ma Mere CNduP – weightier wine with
good fruit and herbs in the nose, still firm structure, decent fruit
in the mouth, but I thought it finished a little dilute and dry,
although with a nice return of sweetness at the end. A fairly simple
wine.

2000 Yves Cuilleron St Joseph les Serines – I was glad to see that I
wasn’t the only one that brought Northern Rhone, though that wasn’t
immediately obvious form the nose on this wine, which was a waxy fruit
nose with a hint of tar, that might have been found in a southern
Rhone. Some tannin and lots of acidity, good levels of fruit, fairly
big and concentrated, with some mint showing up with time in the
glass.

1998 Ch. la Nerthe CNduP – this bottle came from a moist cellar and it
looked like it had been shot with fine buckshot, the label all
pockmarked and eroded. The owner opined as how it was just some sort
of bug feeding on the labels. Eeww! Big sweet plumy fruit in the
nose with just a hint of anise, and mixed herbs, sweet in the mouth
with fair length and smooth finish. Nice wine. Guess the bugs
thought so too.

1998 Vieux Donjon CNduP – lovely wine with slightly funky sweet nose,
full body and sweet in the mouth also, with a medium long finish.
Might be time to try and locate my case of this! Suitable wine to end
with.

1983 Fonseca Port – a somewhat woody nose, only a little hot (others
found more heat in it than I did) medium colour, medium sweet,
definitely a bit hot on palate, reasonably rich in taste, smooth
middle and a tad shorter tan I would have preferred. Decent but not
in the usual class of this house in good vintages.