Thursday, July 3, 2008

Domaine des Favards Cotes du Rhone Villages, 1998

The label of this wine modestly proclaims: "Si ce vin est sur votre table, vous etes un connaisseur." Or "If this wine is on your table, you are a connoisseur." My corrollary would be: "If you have a 10-year-old Cotes du Rhone Villages on your table, you had better be sure it's worth drinking." I knew, of course, that Domaine des Favards is indeed a connoisseur's wine and that it is capable of aging 10 years or longer.

It's a deep crimson/ruby all the way to the rim. The cherry/black licorice/garrigue aromas are deep and concentrated. This wine has the combination of power and beauty that, for me, is typical of Gigondas. And this is a baby Gigondas. Favard's Villages probably has more Syrah in the blend than its Cotes du Rhone (which is 80% Grenach and 20% Syrah). Both the color and the flavors are darker than you'd expect from Grenache. There's some tannic firmness at first, but the flavors open up nicely after about 15 minutes of airing. The tag says "$8.99," but my pleasure meter goes two to three times higher than that.

I've been buying Domaine des Favards Cotes du Rhone and Cotes du Rhone Villages since the 1985 vintage, and I once rushed to finish off my case within three to five years. Eventually, I learned that there's no hurry with these traditionally made wines. While they don't change as much as a classified growth Bordeaux might with aging, they are capable of keeping and even improving for well past a decade. The estate is located on the Plan de Dieu, very near to two of my other Vaucluse favorites: L'Espigouette and Vieux Chene. The drive from Gigondas to Orange will take you past all three properties. But regardless of how close they are to each other and how similar their blends, these three wines are very different. That's what I love about artisan winemaking.

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