Sunday, June 1, 2008

Domaine l'Oratoire Saint Martin Cairanne Prestige, 1998

I buried this wine, like a dog burying a bone, some eight years ago, knowing that otherwise I would drink it all up before it had a chance to show its best. I buried it too well and only last week had the energy to dig it out. I was pleased to find out that I hadn't missed any pleasure.

It has a good deep crimson color all the way to the rim. My first whiff is of black olives; my wife smells some barnyard initially but I guess I just wrapped that into my expectations. I love Southern Rhone barnyard. Very quickly the earthy notes give way to beautiful blueberry/raspberry fruit and garrigue. Very delicate scents of lavender and rosemary. My wife is loving the wine by now and brings over some lavender and rosemary from the garden to confirm the lovely scents. They are almost as fresh as the real thing. On the palate, it's smooth and cool with a long, long finish. Teases all the way down. This is every bit as good as most Chateauneuf or Gigondas wines, but why make a comparison? It's Cairanne, and it's lovely.

From the late 1980s through the mid 1990s, I bought this wine by the case every year. Always less than $100/case, it was one of my every day favorites. Now about $25/bottle, Domaine l'Oratoire Saint Martin is no longer every day fare, but the quality and pleasure are still there.

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