Thursday, December 25, 2014

Chateau Fortia Chateauneuf du Pape, 1998

This Chateauneuf du Pape was one of the standouts at a big Rhone tasting put on by the Ann Arbor Wine Club about 15 years ago. There were many Chateauneufs on the table--Pegau, Bois de Boursan, Domaine du Hautes des Terres Blanches--but this Foria was attracting the most attention. At that time, it was big, dark and powerful; tonight, it is much lighter in color and body...but a far superior wine.

For a 1998, I must admit that it is showing its age. More secondary than primary fruit smells and flavors. High toned. Red cherries, kirsch, spice and herbs. Herbs, in fact, probably dominate. I like the 1998 vintage in the Southern Rhone but have to admit that most Chateauneufs from this vintage are at least as advanced as those from 1988, 1989 and 1990. How will they age from here? Given the chamelion-like development of wines from this appellation, I don't think you can say. On Cellar Tracker, one taster said he had written this wine off several years ago but now sees it suddenly getting better. That's not generally the way wines go, but Chateauneuf du Pape is a blend of several varietals, each with its own aging window. If the Grenache fades into the background, the Syrah and Mourvedre may take over and fill the holes. And the combination of aging Grenache and youthful Mourvedre can be quite exciting.

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