Pinot is always exciting, but now I'm back in the arms of my true love, and Emannuel Bouchard's Valreas is one of my all-time favorites from the Southern Rhone. I remember well this same cuvee made by Emmanuel's father, Romain Bouchard, back in the mid-1980s (was it 1983, 1985 or 1988?). It just kept getting better and better, and I think he taught his children well. The younger Bouchard spent 15 years in bio-medicine before taking over the winery that has been in the family for nine generations. But he has clearly adapted well to a different kind of biology and a different kind of medicine. This 2004 Val des Rois has always been good but tonight it's sensational.
The color is a very deep crimson/ruby. The age is showing in subtle tints, and there's none of the artificial darkness that comes from small barrels. Deep, deep, deep bouquet. Black pepper (both the Grenache and Syrah variety) plus black fruits, herbs and spices. Dark, deep and intriguing. Very compact and concentrated on the palate. Flavors burst out from all directions and levels. This is a special wine--not similar to Chateauneuf du Pape nor Gigondas but maybe better in its own way. Old vines, yes. And low yields. Traditional winemaking at its best.
This may be my last bottle of the 2004, but I still have several of the 2007 Val des Rois Signature which should be even better when it reaches full maturity.