If this wine were a Zinfandel, I'd be singing its praises. It's not, and I'm not. The 2003 vintage in the Rhone was very warm and wines produced were atypical. While this is not my least favorite 2003 Southern Rhone, it does show some of the negative effects of the vintage.
The color is very dark, and the nose has a ripeness that is more like California Zin than Southern Rhone--very black fruit plus licorice and raisins. It's the raisins that turn me away; they create a soupy one-dimensional quality. The wine is full bodied and glides down smoothly. Alcoholic content is only 13.5% but the wine is simply too sweet for my tastes and does not reflect its origins.
Don't take this as a slam on Zinfandel. I love good Zinfandel. When I think of Ridge Geyserville, Teldeschi or the Alderbrook Old Vines Dry Creek Zin that I've reported on previously, I envision wines with considerable complexity and character. The Zinfandel grape is relatively large and thick-skinned, and the wines it produces are expected to be full bodied with bold, ripe, raisined aromas and flavors. That's not the profile I expect from Grenache-based Southern Rhones.