Twenty-seven years is admittedly is pushing Cotes du Rhone aging to the extreme. This is a wine that should have been consumed a decade ago but got overlooked in the cellar. It is, however, still very good.
Cru de Coudoulet (now known as Coudoulet de Beaucastel) is the sibling of Chateau Beaucastel. The vineyards are just across the road from those of Beaucastel in Chateauneuf du Pape and the wine is given similar treatment in the cellar. So extended aging is not out of the question, although 27 years is a bit old even for most Chateauneufs. I had my last bottle of 1983 Beaucastel several years ago, and it was not in sterling condition.
The color has lightened considerably and there is heavy crust on one side of the bottle. (Hidden beneath other bottles, this one fortunately did not get moved much, if at all, over the past 25 years.) When first opened, the bouquet and flavors are lovely--dominated by spicy, floral Mourvedre notes. Dried berries, herbs, violets--lots of depth and intrigue. The wine also has the body of a much younger wine with sweet fruit and sparkling highlights showing nicely--a very pleasant surprise. About an hour after opening, however, the wine begins to lose its precarious balance, and the flavors get slightly sharp and short on the finish. It doesn't die, however, as some older wines do when exposed to air for awhile. A glass or so left in the decanter is still drinkable after three nights. The price tag says I paid $8.95 (the current vintage of Coudoulet de Beaucastel is more than $20); that amounts to about 30 cents for each year of aging potential.