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Three 2003 Chateauneufs

Here is David Bloch’s description from last year of tasting 2003 Pierre Usseglio, Cuvee Mon Aieul, 2003 Marcoux, Vieilles Vignes, and 2003 Clos des Papes.

Chateauneuf du Pape Vineyard.  Image by moofbonb via flickr.  Licensed under Creative Commons.

Chateauneuf du Pape Vineyard. Image by moofbong via flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Knowing I would not be going in to the office last Wednesday but instead would be working from home, Ariane and I decided to open three CdPs from the highly irregular 2003 vintage.  Here are my impressions – all wines decanted approx. 3 ½ hours before drinking:

Usseglio Mon Aieul:  Absolutely amazing nose.  Floral and spicy.  The wine is becoming more delicate – but in no way less powerful.  There is a certain “clarity” to the predominantly Grenache cuvee – almost a pristine clean of kirsch and flowers.  Really long finish of that kirsch again as well as some darker berry notes.  This wine will go for years to come.  Purchased on release from Wide World.

Marcoux V.V.:  IIRC, the most expensive bottle of CdP I ever purchased.   Worth every cent.   Having been in the Rhone this really does smell like the Rhone.  Intense and complex nose.   Really different than the Mon Aieul.  This is a meatier wine, showing less pure Grenache but more of everything else:  deep berry notes, some Bordeaux-like cassis, and a host of savory herbs and spices.   The wine has got some tannins to resolve and in a way I regret opening the only bottle I have, only because I think the wine will continue to progress.  Purchased on release from Calvert Woodley.

Clos des Papes:  posters & bloggers who write of this wine’s diminishing lifespan are just wrong.  This is a big wine, different than the Marcoux.  It seemed the most alcoholic of the three but not in a way that there is noticeable heat.  It had more of the kirsch notes that I am attracted to, but had a bit of dark side to it that leaned a bit toward the bitter.  Licorice maybe.  This is a peppery and herbal wine with plenty of tannins, still.  Midway through dinner the wine tightened up and almost closed down again, something I was not expecting.   Purchased on release from Bassin’s at the insistence of the Rhone-meister Emeritus.

A lot of wine and I suspect (and meant to check) some serious alcohol content.   I could not stay awake for the 10 p.m. news.

Order of Preference:  as listed above.  Wines rebottled from decanters overnight and air pumped out.  Kept in the cellar.

Snowmageddon (not!) Wednesday:  finishing where what we started.

Marcoux showed even better the second day.  Overnight was less kind to the Usseglio – I think the wine really impressed the night before and lost some of its kirschy sharpness.  The Clos des Papes was another story altogether.   It did not taste like the same wine.   The wine was far better on day two and the air served to really soften the wine and smooth out some the rough edges that continue.  My takeway is that the Clos des Papes can in fact live a lot longer than some cognoscenti would lead you to believe.   Day two order of preference: Marcoux, Clos des Papes, Mon Aieul.

If you own them, drink them.  They are all beautiful interpretations and expressions of the region and have, at least for my palate, reached a level of maturity that provides that extra Je ne sais quoi!

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