Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Domaine de l'Espigouette Cotes du Rhone Villages Plan de Dieu, 2004

By all rights, I should love this wine. The producer is one of my favorites from the Plan de Dieu, a very good area for Cotes du Rhone, and I like the 2004 vintage. This wine, however, has something missing--at least for my taste.

The color is a medium ruby, a bit muted in color, but a healthy hue. It takes considerable swirling to get the aromas forward, and even then they're a bit muted--some ripe fruit smells but not very well delineated and none of the pepper, spice and liveliness I expect from a l'Espigouette Cotes du Rhone Villages. The flavors are also pleasant but rather one dimensional--prunes rather than fresh berries and again none of the pepper, spice and fresh herbs I was looking for. It actually smells and tastes a bit tired, but a 2004 should not be over the hill. The winemaker, Bernard Latour, is one I respect a lot, but I suspect he picked the grapes a little too ripe for my taste in this vintage.


  1. Fred, I thought longer hang times increased flavors. Isn't that why people are saying 2007 was so great?

    Do you know of any good books that explain the French appellation system with big pictures and small, English words?


  2. Eric, ripeness is a precise matter. As in cooking, let the grapes hang too long, and the flavors become stewed.

    When winemakers say a wine is "complete," they mean that the grapes were picked when they were completely ripe--when all the skin tannins had ripened but the berries still had sufficient acid to sharpen the flavor. A good winemaker can tell that by tasting the grapes. The scientific method is by testing the sugar content. Either way there is some gambling involved. Because of the weather (too hot, too cold, too much rain, not enough sunshine), some vintages simply don't allow the grapes to ripen to completeness.

    Winemakers like to hype the vintage they're trying to sell. I believe the hype for the 2007s; I didn't (don't) believe it for 2003.