I bought this bottle at the estate in 1992 and dragged it with me on the rest of our trip, along with a couple of Chateaneufs du Pape--1989 Domaine Pegau and 1989 Les Clefs d'Or. They were my favorites of wines I tasted in the Rhone. It was early Spring so I didn't have to worry too much about extremes of temperature but generally wines don't respond as well as humans to the rigors of long-distance travel.
More than 20 years later, however, the wine is none the worse for the stresses to which I exposed it. The color is light crimson and a bit burnished and faded with amber at the edges. The bouquet, though, is powerful even as the cork is pulled. Powerful scents of Mourvedre and Grenache. Now some Syrah. Spicy berries, barnyard and garrigue. This wine is very Beaucastel in its personality...and better than many I've tasted. The vineyards, in fact, border on those of Beaucastel and are just outside the boundaries of Chateauneuf du Pape. The cepage is the same.
Now 24 years old, this Cotes du Rhone is fully mature but all the better for it. It's not perfect on the palate. But who cares? It's rich and concentrated with flavors that just keep coming at you with an array of different nuances. Spicy, animal, haunting. This is a pre-birthday wine, and I'm already feeling the pleasures and rewards of maturity.