Monday, February 7, 2011

Domaine de la Mordoree Lirac Cuvee de la Reine des Bois, 1998

Mordoree is a very good source of Lirac wines, and the estate produces two cuvees: a regular Lirac (now known as la Dame Rousse) and a premium bottling, Cuvee de la Reine des Bois. In the 1998 vintage, the regular bottling sold for $9.75, the Cuvee de la Reine des Bois, $17.50. (For current vintages, those prices would be $25 and $40 respectively.) Considering the 1998 vintage to be a good one for my taste, I bought some of each, assuming, as most wine drinkers would, that the more expensive cuvee would be the better and most ageworthy of the two. My assumption was clearly wrong. The $9.75 bottling was showing beautifully a few months ago; this premium bottling is over-the-hill.

It's a medium deep ruby with definite browning around the edges. /The bouquet gives me complex spicy notes, dark tones, fading fruit...and some oxidation. To give the wine its due, there are hints of exciting depth but also some stale notes. / In the mouth, I get much of the same, but it's fresher and better. Some plummy fruit in the middle but it leads to iodine and oxidized flavors. There is decent complexity on the finish, enough to keep me looking for more. But this is definitely a wine on the downward curve and not nearly as good as the less expensive cuvee.

The major difference is that some of the grapes la Reine des Bois are aged in new oak while the regular cuvee is made according to traditional methods. Let me state my bias clearly: I favor the traditional approach. Others may disagree. But if you own some of the more expensive Reine des Bois wines, either Lirac or Chateauneuf du Pape, I suggest you drink them sooner rather than later.

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