Even compared to the very good 2006 Grand Prieur reported on below, this 2005 is very impressive. It has many of the same qualities--black fruit, licorice, herbs, black peppercorns--all coming together very nicely. In fact, I think I prefer the 2005 at this stage.
This reminds me very much of a Vacqueyras. And it should because all of Bertin Gras' vineyards are in Vacqueyras. He chooses to bottle some of his production as Cotes du Rhone to allow him higher yields than the Vacqueyras appellation allows. Considering the concentration and quality of this wine, however, the yields are clearly lower than one would expect for a $7 to $8 wine.
Grand Prieur also makes a Vacqueyras which I have not tasted. It is relatively inexpensive for a Vacqueyras ($12.99), and I have read good reports from wine staff at Village Corner in Ann Arbor, Michigan.