en primeur offer
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Bibendum’s Rhone, Provence and Languedoc tasting and 2000 en primeur offer
Held at the Royal Society of Arts, London, March 4th 2002

A slightly convoluted title to this tasting, reflecting the mixed offering of Rhone 2000 en primeurs, the scrag ends of last years’ 1999 en primeur (some very good wines nonetheless) and bits and pieces from the South of France. No complaints here, though, as this embraces several of my favourite French wine regions, and it’s a tasting I approached with some anticipation. So what would be on my shopping list, if I wasn’t on wine probation at the moment? (Like most wine nuts, I buy more than I drink, so occasionally I need a blanket ban on buying.) Top of the list are three wines I rated as excellent. First the Beaucastel 2000, a real stunner, and still an affordable classic. Second, Noel Verset’s Cornas 2000, which blew me away with its authentic, intense Syrah character. Third, the intensely fruited yet classy Hermitage from Domaine du Colombier. I’d skip the Côte Rôties (1999 seems a more successful year than 2000 here, although I’m operating on relatively limited data). I would probably also buy a case of the Domaine du Colombier Crozes Hermitage Cuvée Gaby 2000,  to add to my purchase of the highly successful 1999), and the brilliantly traditional 2000 Faugères from Alquier. Prices given here are the per case in bond rate (ex duty and VAT), and the anticipated final bottle price (including duty and VAT). I would add that this is just a selection of wines from Bibendum's offer: for the full range see www.bibendum-wine.co.uk.

Robert Niero Condrieu Les Ravines 2000
Attractive slightly floral peachy nose, with a soapy edge. Rich fruit on palate with a slightly nutty character. Delicate rounded texture and nice balance. Very good/excellent (£150; £16.06)

Robert Niero Condrieu Cuvée de Chery 2000
Some new wood here, with the wine aged in a mixture of barriques and larger tonneau. Less forward than the Ravines, with a fruity, peachy nose. Nutty, rich palate has a slightly odd edge, perhaps from the wood. Closed at the moment. Very good+ (£180; £19)

Pierre Dumazet Condrieu 1999
Very full tropical fruit nose with a spicy edge. Savoury palate with a bit of spice and a nutty edge. Nice texture. Very good+ (£180; £19)

Gilles Barges Côte Rôtie Cuvée du Plessy 2000 (cask sample)
Bright purple/red colour. Expressive, vivid pepper spice nose with a smoky edge. The palate is tannic and firm with some spicy meatiness. Very savoury and quite clean, with what appears to be some oak sticking out. Not as good as the 1999, I found this a little disappointing. Very good+ (£180; £19)

Rene Rostaing Côte Rôtie Cuvée Classique 2000 (cask sample)
Vivid purple colour. Very spicy, caramel-edged nose is quite oaky. Woody, spicy palate with firm, dusty tannins. Lean and savoury, this is currently wood dominated and unintegrated. Very good (£220; £22.91)

Jean-Paul & Jean-Luc Jamet Côte Rôtie 2000
There’s a lovely meaty savouriness to the nose, which is showing some attractive green olive character. Perfumed. The rich, meaty, savoury palate is showing some wood, together with a spicy, tannic structure. Not a great wine, but a lovely C
ôte Rôtie. Disappointing compared with the 1999 though. Very good/excellent (£POA)

L. de Vallouit Côte Rôtie Les Roziers 1998
Really attractive nose (still a little closed) of meaty, green olive, savoury notes. Beautifully savoury palate with some more meaty, green olive character, a medicinal edge and high acidity. Quite a challenging wine, flirting with greenness, and really needs food. Very good/excellent (£280; £28.78)

Domaine de Colombier Crozes Hermitages Cuvée Gaby 2000
Lovely expressive meaty nose is vivid and intense, with just a touch of green olive character. The palate is rich, chunky, meaty and savoury. With some tannic structure this is an attractive wine in a delicious savoury style. Very good/excellent (£80; £9.20)

Domaine de Colombier Crozes Hermitages Cuvée Gaby 1999
Really attractive nose is quite perfumed with a meaty edge. The chunky, savoury palate is meaty and spicy, with the fruit still backed up by firm tannins. Very good/excellent (£80; £9.20)

Domaine de Colombier Hermitage 2000 (cask sample)
This is a stunning effort. With pure, intense raspberry fruit on the nose, this is quite striking. The palate shows deep, concentrated raspberry fruit, underpinned by a savoury acid and fine tannin structure. A delicious, deep wine; unusual and appealing. Excellent  (£220; £22.91)

Michel Chapoutier Hermitage La Sizeranne 2000
Expressive nose is quite sweet with lots of spicy oak and some savoury fruit. Attractive medium-bodied, chunky palate is currently a bit woody. Lacks real intensity? Very good+ (£150; £16.06)

Michel Chapoutier Hermitage La Sizeranne 1990
Mature, evolved nose of tea, leather, and herbs with a sweet edge. With some spicy tannins, the palate is medium bodied and quite balanced. Drinking well now, but not one to hold onto for much longer. Quite light for Hermitage and vastly overpriced. Very good+ (£480; £48.37)

Michel Chapoutier Ermitage Le Meal 1999
Deep coloured. The nose shows firm, spicy, savoury fruit but is currently a bit closed. Good concentration on the palate, which is nicely savoury with rich fruit and spicy, dusty new oak. Fine grained but firm tannins. Not my favourite style, but has potential for development. Absurdly expensive though. Very good+ (£900; £89.50)

Noel Verset Cornas 2000
Octogenarian Noel Verset still makes some of the best examples of Cornas, in a traditional style. This is a bright purple colour with an arresting savoury/meaty nose showing forward green olive notes. The palate shows a great concentration of pure Syrah fruit: dense, meaty and intense. Firm tannins. Superb stuff, and very satisfying. Very good/excellent (£150; £16.06)

Thierry Allemand Cornas Chaillot 2000
Deep, vivid purple. There’s a sweetness to the fruit on the nose, which is a tiny bit awkward at this infant stage, and shows a lifted acid edge. Juicy, chunky, bright fruit on the palate with firm tannins and good acidity. A bit awkward now. Very good+ (£200; £20.95)

Thierry Allemand Cornas Reynard 2000
Youthful, lifted acid on the nose, which is a bit closed. Rich, chunky tannic palate with a good concentration of dense fruit; almost unapproachable now. Potential here. Very good+ (£220; £22.91)

Thierry Allemand Cornas Reynard 1999
A huge wine. Slightly closed, savoury nose has deep fruit and spicy notes. Concentrated, savoury, spicy tannic palate. Very youthful with lots of potential. Good balance, but currently unapproachable. Very good/excellent (£220; £22.91)

Thierry Allemand Cornas Reynard 1998
Still closed but opening a little. Intense, focused, meaty fruit on the nose, which is very savoury and spicy. The palate shows lovely, savoury, meaty Syrah and firm, bright, spicy tannins. Great concentration and lots of potential here. Very good/excellent (£200; £20.95)

Château de Beaucastel Rouge Châteauneuf du Pape 2000
Quite a deep colour. Really lovely nose is still youthful but already showing complex, intense, liquoricey, spicy fruit. The palate is rich and powerful, with ripe-yet-savoury fruit, firm tannins and a spicy finish. This big, brooding wine is powerful but well balanced, and may well turn out to be a sensational Beaucastel given time. Get some if you can! Excellent (£240; £24.87)

Château de Beaucastel Rouge Châteauneuf du Pape 1999
This was closed when I tried it last (more than a year ago), and it's still not giving much away on the nose. There's a bit of sweet, herbal fruit with a soft liquoricey edge. The palate is concentrated, tannic and savoury, with good acidity. Quite a challenging, austere wine to drink now, but has lots of potential. Don't think about opening for another five years. Very good/excellent (£280; £28.79)

Perrin 'Les Sinards' Châteauneuf du Pape 1999
Sweetly fruited yet savoury nose with a dusty, spicy edge. The palate is chunky and rich, showing some attractive fruit and nice minerality. Some tannic structure here, and with good concentration this is an attractive Châteauneuf du Pape.  Very good+ (£125; £13.61)

Coudoulet de Beaucastel Rouge 2000 Côtes du Rhône
Earthy, herbal nose with a touch of sweetness to the fruit. The firm, almost austere savoury palate shows herby fruit, some tannins and good acidity. This medium-bodied wine needs food; it may evolve, but it's possibly a bit charmless and hard work at the moment when drunk alone. Very good+ (£90; £10.18)

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc 2000
Quite a rich, fruity, nutty nose. The palate shows good intensity and a fascinating soft, rounded texture. With its low acidity, this is an unusual wine. It's interesting, and a good example of white Châteauneuf , but I'm not terribly keen on this style. Very good+ (£220; £22.91)

Coudoulet de Beaucastel Blanc 2000 Côtes du Rhône
This expressive white has a 'modern', youthful nose with a boiled sweets tint to the ripe fruit, and a lemony, spicy edge. The fruity palate shows good intensity, a nutty character and a rounded texture. Very good (£85; £9.69)

Coudoulet de Beaucastel Blanc 1999 Côtes du Rhône
I wasn't impressed by this wine: it may be a slightly faulty bottle, though, and I didn't have time to re-taste from a fresh one. The rich, nutty nose has a touch of butterscotch to it and a lifted, volatile edge. The palate is nutty and chunky, perhaps  a little oxidised; certainly quite evolved. Good intensity of savoury flavour though. Good (£78; £9.00)

Domaine Tempier Bandol Cuvée Classique 1999
Intense spicy, herby nose. Medium bodied palate showing roasted fruit, chunky tannins. Herby and southern. Very good+ (£118; £12.93)

Domaine Tempier Cuvée Migoua Bandol 1999
There’s a roasted, spicy edge to the fruit on the nose. Very full, expressive palate displays complex herby and spicy notes. With its firm tannic structure, this is savoury – almost austere. Lots happening though and it would be interesting to see how it develops. Very good/excellent (£166; £17.62)

Domaine Tempier Cuvée Tourtine Bandol 1999
Quite a backward nose: herby with a spicy edge. Chunky, tannic, earthy/spicy palate. Quite closed and unapproachable now. Very good+ (£166; £17.62)

Le Prieure de St-Jean de Bebian 2000 Coteaux du Languedoc (cask sample)
Very forward and ripe. Rich nose is very attractive with a rich, spicy, complex liquoricey edge. The palate shows rich, lush fruit with an attractive spicy/savoury edge. Very good/excellent (£120; £13.12)

Le Prieure de St-Jean de Bebian 1999 Coteaux du Languedoc
The nose is a little closed, and lacks the upfront richness of the 2000 vintage. Firm, spicy tannins dominate the palate. It’s quite chunky, with high acid on the finish. Very good+ (£100; £11.16)

Gilbert Alquier Faugères 2000
The roasted, earthy nose is very savoury and quite expressive: tight and intense. The palate is chunky, satisfying and savoury with great concentration and intensity. Earthy, mineralic and tannic: one to keep for a few years. A delicious, savoury red wine. Very good/excellent (£55; £6.75)

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