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Old Friends: A Quick Look at Bottle Variation


During our Northern Rhone Dinner the subject of Domaine Michel Ogier, La Rosine came up.  I had rather liked the 1999, which I felt was fully mature, but the bottle of 2003 I tried was cracking up.  Others had said the 2003 was a good wine so I suspect I had an under performing bottle.  Phil said there were still a few bottles so I decided I would purchase both.  I am no stranger to bottle variation so I thought it would be fun to first start with a pair of 1998 Gigondas.  The Domaine de Font Sane, Cuvee Futee appears to have peaked back in 2007, “good stuff with minerals” then in the last several years hit a plateau, “Fruit is fading…Drink now but will last.”  It is a shame the fruit and mineral aspect is fading off but I keep getting this sense that the wine will live for quite a long time.  I think I shall hold on to the remaining bottles as an experiment.  The 1998 Grapillon d’Or has been a different story.  I bought six bottles quite cheaply from Wizer’s.  At best its been a solid but uninspiring drink.  But this most recent bottle was surprisingly good!  It was everything I would want from a maturing, affordable Gigondas.

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Bottle variation can be frustrating at best and a financial loss at worst.  I do sincerely hope that every bottle I open is consistent.  There is one intriguing side effect of the variation.  It forces me to think back to other bottles I have drunk, to search this very blog, or dig through my old emails.  This brings back not only the history of that wine but personal history, forgotten conversations and correspondence.

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1998 Domaine de Font Sane, Cuvee Futee, Gigondas –
This wine is a blend of 75% Grenache and 25% Syrah sourced from 35-year-old vines.  It is only produced in the finest vintages.  The wine is aged for 24 months of which 8-12 months are spent in 100% new oak barrels.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The color is a light to medium garnet, revealing its age.  The light nose reveals a little roast earth, perhaps a touch of redness.  In the mouth there is roasted earth and a moderate, ripe fruit core.  The flavors are a little rough and there is warmth in the finish.  Black fruit comes out along with a wood box flavor.  It is still structured.  Will last.  ** Now- 2020.

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1998 Domaine du Grapillon d’Or, Gigondas –
Imported by Bercut-Vandervoort & Co.  This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache, 15% Syrah, and 5% Cinsault sourced from 40-year-old vines.  It was aged 14 months in oak.  Alcohol 13.9%.  In the mouth this was fruitier than expected.  There were good, lifted wood box flavors, all around balance between the fruit, acidity, and ripe grippy tannins.  With air tart red fruit developed which was good in the midpalate.  The flavors roughed up a bit in the aftertaste, reminiscent of a brawny Gigondas.  *** Now-2018.

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