Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Chateau des Hautes Ribes Vacqueyras 2001

Appellation Vacqueyras Controlee, Mis en Bouteille a la Propriete. 14% alcohol, $15.98.

Half an hour after opening, the color was translucent, like an Oregon pinot, but brick red, trending strongly to orange near the rim. The nose was lovely, starting wtih coffee, then hazelnut liquor, buttered toast, and blackberries. Blackberries were clear on the palate as well, along with cassis, followed by sage and licorice, all over an underlying mushroom earthiness. Tannins did not show up until the finish, which was long, smooth and had a creamy softness.

Three hours after the bottle was opened the nose had changed. It was more obviously earthy with boatloads of chocolate. Blackberries and vanilla cream rounded it out. The three hours made a big difference on the palate, which is now far fruitier, with cherries and blackberries dominating, the mushrooms and sage now in the background. Add strawberry and caramel in the midpalate. This is a very nice wine, even lovely for the price. The finish is still soft, creamy, and long.

More tomorrow.

Second night now. The wine was open last night for about 5 hours, then closed with a Vacuu-Vin stopper. It is still tremendously aromatic, even more floral than last night. Lavender is coming through along with black currant, blackberries and pepper. Plenty of black fruit and plums on the palate, perhaps even a tiny touch of cranberry, along with a pinch of pepper. That said, it is far more one-dimensional than last night, giving its initial fruit and not much to follow. There is also that slighly oxidized bruised plum taste you get in a wine that is over the hill. Not, mind you, blatant port-like oxidation, merely a sense of flatness and age.

Conclusion? This was a good wine, even a great wine with the QPR, on the first night. The second night is was on its way down hill. That probably means it is ready to drink now but right now. Don't leave this in the cellar waiting for it to get better.

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