Le Vieux Mas de Papes Red 2001

Yesterday, after a trip to the recyclers’ to rid ourselves of the accumulated shippers and empty cases that built up over the winter, my partner and I headed to downtown San Diego to pick up a dozen or so cases of wine. Having just moved here last July, I’ve been without access to most of my wines until just this month; we finally cleared out enough space in the garage to install a modest refrigerated cabinet, and now it’s time to begin hauling the thirty or so cases in storage back home.There are only twenty cases left in storage at this point: all of the Riesling and most of the Rhône type stuff are now safely home. To celebrate progress, I picked the ugliest bottle I could from the cellar: a generic Châteauneuf-du-Pape that I don’t remember buying (perhaps it was a gift?) with a washed out yellowish label and absolutely nothing interesting on the front of it.I poured a couple of glasses, noticed that the wine looked as washed out as the label, and steeled myself for watery disappointment. Instead, I found myself enjoying one of the best bottles I’ve had in weeks. The nose of the wine eventually reminded me of French sunflower honey, all summer sunlight with notes of hay and dried herbs. Distinctly acidic, the wine offered up smokey gravel, dried Montmorency cherries, dust, dirt, and something like ocean breezes washing across cool ocean meadows and onto hot sand. The smokey note reasserted itself on the finish, with a decidedly sweet (and I mean in the sense of sucrosité, not California super-ripe sweetness) finish trailing off into lazy trails of autumn hay.What an incredible wine, and what a wonderful reminder that restraint often pays incredible dividends. We finished the bottle over a course of several hours, unwilling to put a stop to the experience; at first, the acidity was unsettling, but it settled down with some air. All in all, this was as wonderful as a walk through the redwoods here in California: cool, majestic, quiet.Vignobles BrunierPrice: likely around US $25Closure: CorkDate tasted: March 2008

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