With a cellar like mine, I nearly always have a few reds and a few whites that I am no longer eager to drink, and these wines come in very handy for cooking. Unfortnately, or I shoukl say fortunately, right now, I am particularly low on cooking wines so I was doubtful when I pulled out this 2003 VDP, which cost about $5 or $6 but has always given a lot of pleasure. From vineyards just outside the Chateauneuf du Pape appellation, Les Calades is a long-time favorite and was ridiculously under-valued until Clos St. Jean suddenly became Parkerized about 2003. The 2003 vintage (also Parkerized) is not a favorite of mine, but this VDP has always been one of my top 2003s--not overly sweet or alcoholic as many Southern Rhones from that vintage are.
When I popped the cork, I became even more doubtful. Wow! This is good stuff. Intense aromas of black fruits, leather, garrigue and black licorice. Same on the palate with good fruit concentration, firm acid and a long, pleasing finish. This is a wine that would go well with the lamb stew. But I had planned to drink a Gigondas so into the pot it goes. But I save a glass for now and a few more for later.