Here is one that finally grew on me. This is unusual because it is usually love within a bottle or two, but this one definitely took much longer to gel and for me to appreciate it. While hailed, at least in some circles, as “one of the world’s greatest wine values”, if you’re a regular readers of these hallowed HSC pages, you already know that much of the French preponderance in those circles is because of the Great Hype Machine. Given my experience, I would have to include this among that number, but it is also a fairly fine wine, though not to an extent where I would lump it in any great category, even restricting it solely categorically to French origin. Guigal, it should be noted, is given much responsibility by those same persons for setting the standards for the appellation for the Côtes du Rhône region. While I don’t know enough to comment on the veracity of that, it does bear mentioning.
The first few times I had it, I thought it was excessively astringent and as it turns out, I was not wrong. It never really loses that astringency. However, after a good hour of air time, it does mellow out to be a delightfully complex wine. The majority here is Syrah, which is still holding fairly fast as my all-around favorite varietal. The rest is Grenache and a very small percentage of Mourvedre. I suspect this is where a lot of the astringency is coming in with the Syrah giving it a very characteristic dark hue and the full body that it exceeds so well at. Mouth feel is pretty solid, though I’d say it tends a bit towards the medium heft side of things. Great gulps can quickly become unpleasant, though.
So, while this one can be a very solid wine to drink now, I’d say it would be a good choice for cellaring as well, since even a modest 5 – 10 years would result in a smoother and eminently drinkable potion. Having finally “gotten” this wine, I was almost distracted by discovering all the various aspects I was able to derive from it, which continues its dual aspect. Not only will wine aficionados find much to enjoy with it, but even those new to it can use this as a platform, a stepping stone, perhaps, in finding not only various flavor notes, but also observing how a wine can open up, both with temperature (see first HSC post for more on my methodology there) and with air time.
Now, while this can be an enjoyable wine, it does take significant time to get to that point, which I don’t always have patience for. I find it delightful, but not necessary enough to be a Standard and I’ve never seen it on SPA (though I’m guessing it has been at some point) and thus, we call this one a Mixed.