Saturday, April 16, 2011

Domaine la Monardiere Vacqueyras Les Calades, 2003

I never believed the critics who claimed the highly touted 2003 Southern Rhones would outgrow their raisined, alcoholic excesses. I bought only a few Southern Rhones from this vintage, and even these continue to disappoint me. A prime example is Monardiere's Vacqueyras les Calades, a wine I have enjoyed immensely from past vintages. Lively and interesting when it was young, the 2003 les Calades is now a feeble image of its former self. The color is definitely fading--rusty, bricky and tired. On first sniff, I get some interesting mature scents of dried fruits, dried flowers and some Vacqueyras minerals. On the palate, though, it's pitifully lacking in acidity with flat, lifeless flavors. The domaine recommends drinking this cuvee at five to eight years because of the lively pepper, spice and berry qualities that typically emerge, but all of those qualities are long gone from this wine. Tastes like a 20-year-old vin de pays. If you bought any 2003 Chateauneuf du Pape, you probably paid a premium because the wines were given high ratings by many critics. I usually don't start sampling my Chateauneufs until they are 10 to 12 years old, and I wait even longer for a good vintage such as 2001 or 2005. I am convinced, though, that 2003 is not a good, nor even a fair, vintage. It is a vintage for drinking several years ago...if at all.

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