Most of the Chateauneufs in my cellar were purchased a decade or more ago when even the best bottles from the best vintages were available for less than $20 a bottle. Chateauneuf du Pape wines age very well over two or three decades, but they are also very good when tasted young, as this 2013 Vieux Lazaret demonstrates.
The color is not particularly dark but has bright, clear crimson tones. At least this bottling of Vieux Lazaret is aged in large, old oak foudres. From the first sniff, the origin of this wine is indisputable; it has all the hallmarks of a fine traditional Chateauneuf. Bright red fruits, pressed flowers, spices and pepper. Mellow in the mouth with compact fruit and old vine intensity. Long finish. 14% alcohol is apparent but in a positive way and in line with CdP tradition. The wine is well proportioned and well balanced. A delight now with a promise of more to come.
Even though Vieux Lazaret sells for about $40 a bottle, I was able to get a three-ounce pour for only $10 at a unique place--Battery Square Book Exchange and Champagne Bar in Asheville, NC. Yes, I could spend an afternoon just browsing the reading matter in this fantastic new and used book store. And I can also order and drink 25 to 50 wines and champagnes by the glass, including some high-end wines available in one-ounce, three-ounce, five ounce or 10-ounce pours. This is my type of place; next time I'm ordering the 2010 Ceretto Barbaresco. We saw little groups everywhere: four women who call themselves WWW, Women Who Wine; two men getting together for coffee and a roll; a group upstairs discussing 19th century history; young college couples exploring the stacks. It's a place to be alone or together exploring books and wine.