1998 was one of the last vintages for bargain-priced Chateaneuf du Papes; due to increased recognition of the high quality of these wines, prices have escalated rapidly since that time. Fortunately, I bought and cellared quite a few 1998s and have high expectations for them.
A find of Rhone expert Robert Mayberry of Grand Haven, MI, Domaine Lou Frejau is not very well known...and priced accordingly--about $15 when I bought this bottle. I was impressed when I first tried it at an Ann Arbor Wine Club tasting in 2000 or 2001; it stood out for its light color, delicate body and remarkably intense aromas and flavors. I haven't tasted it since, but for tonight's Valentine's Day dinner of filet mignon and mushroom/Swiss chard gratinee, it was all that I expected and more.
Light crimson color, as I remember. Medium intensity./ A nose of ripe strawberries, red cherries, spice and peppercorn. Very compact, intense dried and fresh fruit aromas. As I remember plus plus./ It's on the palate that the development of the wine is most apparent. Cherries more than strawberries here; considerably more structure and acid than the bouquet suggests. The wine seems to take on weight with each glass poured. The tannins are deep but very fine, and the finish is long, intense and aromatic. Lou Frejau 1998 is drinking beautifully now, and I suspect it will probably improve or at least stay at this level for quite some time.