I bought this wine shortly after I finished off a case of the lovely 1998 Domaine de l'Espigouette Cotes du Rhone Villages. The estate, like many of my other Cotes du Rhone favorites, is located on the Plan de Dieu, and I was happy to see the area rewarded as a designated appellation. With high expectations, I bought half a case but have always been somewhat disappointed. I suspect the winemaker (a man I have met and admire a great deal) departed from traditional practices, aging some of the wine in barriques rather than concrete vats or large foudres in an effort to reach a wider audience. The peppery, spicy, licorice-tinged qualities that I've always loved in l'Espigouette's CDR Villages are strangely absent, replaced by sweeter, more anonymous tones. I'm sure others will appreciate this wine more than I have because it's made in an international style.
Deep and dark with some definite amber forming./ Yes, some peppery, spicy aromas are beginning to emerge--finally! Black fruits, cassis, finely tuned. But where's the garrigue? A nice bouquet is beginning to form; maybe I drank my first five bottles too soon. But on the finish, I smell some oxidation--definitely not a good sign./ On the palate, it's elegant and under-stated with the smooth texture to be expected from a wine aged in barriques. A lush mouthful just reaching its peak but with some oxidation already showing. I'm still disappointed.