Friday, October 17, 2008

Clos Saint Jean Les Calades Vin de Pays de Vaucluse, 1998

Now this is my style--a mature wine offering gentle but persistent flavors of complex fruit, herbs and spice--Grenache at its best. Yes, I know that it's a Vin de Pays, and I paid only about $5 for it nearly a decade ago. But tonight I can sit back and savor it as if it were a priceless treasure.

It has a mature Grenache color; it has lightened considerably since its youth. The nose is also typical of mature Grenache--dried and fresh strawberries with hints of black pepper, spice and Provencal herbs. The flavors are savory, almost salty, but also very ripe and compact like a rich fruit cake. Everything about this wine is gentle and laid back. One sip leads to another.

Don't get me wrong; very few Vin de Pays wines are capable of aging this well. I experimented first with one bottle of the 1994 (consumed in 2004) and the 1995 (consumed in 2005). Then I laid away a case each of Les Calades from three very good vintages--1998, 2000 and 2001--for drinking over an eight to ten year period. So far, I have no regrets.

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