Friday, February 22, 2013

Chateauneuf du Pape

Eight years ago I ran across a number of Chateauneuf du Pape wines that were marked down for clearance and more than several came home with me.    Over the last few years they have all succumbed to my thirst, the last being the 1999 Les Callioux which is now a memory.  Each of those wines were from the mid to late 1990's or 2000 before the Parkeriztion of that region into hugely alcoholic wines that I now find overbearing.  This one certainly wasn't.

The wine immediately went into a decanter, passing very slowly through a stainless filter in the process.  Other than a few old ports I can't remember a wine with this much sediment in the bottle.  Still, the wine was a beautiful medium brick color with a bit of orange at the edges.  The aroma was closed for a few minutes and then moved into ripe, dark fruit with a tremendous earthiness underneath the fruit.  The longer it spent in a glass the more wonderful it was to just sit and smell this wine.  The flavors were pronounced and full with the fruit being dominant.  There was nothing shy about the weight of this wine, it was big and muscular, but it still carried itself with some grace.  It was neither tiring nor overwhelming.  Quite a lengthy finish that finally ended with the earthiness coming to the fore. 

Dinner was some lamb shanks braised with onions, celery, tomatoes and fennel.  Once the shanks were done the vegetables were removed and the broth strained most of the accumulated fat.  Fresh vegetables went back into the pan along with the shanks and some white beans and a pinch of saffron, and everything cooked together for another thirty minutes.  

This turned out to be a remarkable pairing with the wine.  The sweet lamb was great with the fruit and the saffron added an earthiness to the broth brought everything together. 

1999 Les Callioux Chateauneuf du Pape.  14% alcohol and $45 eight years ago.

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