Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Chante Cigale Chateauneuf du Pape, 1978
On my 72nd birthday, I wanted a wine that hints at immortality, even if I'm fully aware that there is no such thing for either humans or wine. Chateauneuf du Pape is not as ageworthy as Bordeaux or even New World Cabernet, but 1978 was probably the greatest Southern Rhone vintage of my lifetime. This wine (and the 1978 Chante Perdrix I opened on my birthday three years ago) may not be immortal, but they have everything you could expect--and a bit more--after 30 plus years in the bottle. The color is a true crimson, deep and dark although a bit murky. The bouquet is very Grenache and very pure--dried cherries and berries in the forefront. The palate is the same--very direct and very pure. Ripe Grenache flavors that glide across the tongue, leaving a trail of fruit pleasure. Very rich, very ripe finish. This wine doesn't have much complexity, but it doesn't need any. There is fantastic fruit here, clearly from old, well situated vines capable of delivering flavor for many, many years without any sign of attenuation. No frills, no pretentions, just a quiet sort of power.