$19.99 in Indianapolis
France, Appelation Vacqueyras Controlee
The color of this one was interesting, a very deep dark ruby, almost like fresh blood in india ink (did I mention that I do some political cartooning, and that pen nibs can be very sharp?). It was also just slightly cloudy.
This is definitely not a "fruit forward" wine. If you're looking for parkerization or spoofilation, the nose will send you running. It is distinctly vegetal first, with brambles, mushroom, barnyard and a touch of tarragon, plus some wax, allbefore you start to find any fruit. There is a bit of black fruit hiding in the background, along with some black currant, but with the bottle only open an hour or so, you really have to look for it. It will be interesting to see if fruit makes more of an appearance the second night.
The first impression on the palate is grit. The second is tart fruit. Have you ever had native cherries or strawberries? They taste of cherries and strawberries, but mostly tart, very little sweet. Some sweetness is there but it seems to come more from florals than fruit, florals including violet and gardenia. Vegetals from the nose are in the palate, too - cloves, brambles, and just a bit of dirty hay from a barnyard floor. It also has gritty mouth-drying tannins. I am making it sound far worse than it is. This is a great big mouthful of wine with layers of flavors. The grit is a downside, but otherwise it works (assuming, again, you're not looking for Everclear and Welches). I am very curious to see if this comes together or drops off the map overnight. Aren't you?
Second night. It spent the night under a Vacuu-Vin closure and in the wine cellar.
The nose is, if anything even more vegetal, but more floral as well. To the herbaceous brambly smell add tarragon and some strong flowers, like magnolias and gardenias a day or two past bloom. I am still getting some wax, like, do you remember those little wax "candies" with juice inside that you used to get for Halloween, the ones that always had a waxy residue/taste? That is the wax smell. Okay, a few minutes in the glass and the smell is mellowing, the sharp herbaceous smell giving way to some meat, raw wet beef to go with tarragon and flowers.
Menthol, tarragon, that same wax and flowers open the palate. The meat is there too, perhaps a bit more bacony than beef, but not heavily smoked. Fruit is certainly more apparent the second night, blackberries, cranberries and plum skins, then cloves and pepper. It is a very interesting evolution in the mouth. Every stage has two or three tastes, which are one at a time replaced by the next, flowing all the way through from start to finish. Tannins are no longer gritty, or even dusty, though I would not go so far as to call them velvety.
Conclusion- I am surprised. Given that this was a 1999, just purchased at a wine store so probably not stored perfectly (only their top of the line stuff gets the temperature control), I expected it to fall precipitously from night one to night two, and instead it improved. This probably has a couple more years of cellar improvement in it. I am going to go back for more.