March 16, 2012

2000 Montirius Vacqueyras Clos Montirius

Here's another stray bottle from the cellar that somehow never got opened. Until tonight. I originally bought two of the 2000 Montirius Vacqueyras Clos Montirius at a local supermarket that has a particularly rich bargain, where good wines end up at half off, sometimes from already marked down prices. Maybe this should have been $20, but I think I got this for $8 per.

The idea was...good commune in the southern Rhone Valley, good producer, biodynamically farmed grapes, older school winemaking, it should be great. And the first bottle was. In fact, I remember thinking it was better than I expected and I should hold that second bottle for some years to see how it aged. And I held it. And held it. Maybe seven years now. For a while I forgot about it, then found it again in a box of wine in the cellar and put it on the shelf to be opened. It waited some more.

Tonight, finally, I pulled the cork. Not that it necessarily matters, but the cork looked perfect. Stained dark on one end, otherwise brand new in appearance. There's something pleasing in the sight of a perfect cork. As you can see, the wine is dark garnet in color, lively despite 12 years. Initially the aroma was a touch old with raisiny fruit. Then gradually the wine revealed itself, concentrated and powerful, plummy, complex with pipe tobacco and warm stone aromas. The flavors followed, with a dried fruit strength, resolving tannin that still gave good grip, more than adequate acidity to convey freshness, and a long, bottle sweet finish that lingered well. This wine could be nothing but southern Rhone, full of stony, meaty, savory garrigue nuance, like walking in the hills of around Ventoux or, to bring it closer to my experience, Santa Monica. That warm, herbal, dusty scent of hiking in the hills.

At first I thought this might have been better a few years ago. With time it seems perfect now. I think it might last a while longer but probably lose freshness and turn more raisined. Then again, considering the '69 Sizzano we had last weekend, maybe it will go another 30 years and amaze someone for it goodness despite a second tier appellation and modest price. Wine's like that, full of delicious surprises.

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