I haven't been drinking this Cotes du Rhone nearly as quickly as I had planned, mainly because the 2005 Grand Prieur is drinking so beautifully. But the 2006 appears to have passed the 2005 on its maturity curve and has reached prime time drinking. It's still very deep and dark for a Cotes du Rhone but the purplish tints of youth are turning to crimson, though still bright and youthful looking. If you're looking for a signature wine for what Rhone lovers call "garrigue," look no further. Scents of lavender, thyme and other Provencal herbs and flowers waft up as the wine is being poured--forward, intense and beautiful. On the nose and in the mouth, there's abundant strawberry and blueberry fruit with a firm underpinning of black pepper on the tongue as it goes down. This is not a "simple" Cotes du Rhone. The black pepper/mineral/licorice tones remind me of Vacqueyras (not surprising, since the vines are located there). I can't get enough of this wine at this stage, and that means I should open it more frequently while it's still at its best. Then too the 2007 will be hitting the shelves in a few weeks, and Robert Parker calls 2007 the best vintage he has encountered in 30 years of tasting in the Southern Rhone.
The 2006 Domaine du Grand Prieur is still available at D&W FreshMarket in Kalamazoo for $10 to $11 a bottle--several dollars more than I paid a year ago but still a fantastic value.