Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Why, at this early stage, I prefer '06 to '05 in the Rhone

Recently I tasted some Languedoc and Rhone valley wines primarily from the '05 and '06 vintages. Based on the few young '06s that I had, I think that I will relate to 2006 and enjoy it more than the 2005 in this neck of the woods. A chart of some key differences (in general, bearing in mind that there are always exceptions):

2005 IN THE RHONE | 2006 IN THE Rhone |
Monolithic, brawny| nuanced, lighter
Dense, chewy | Layered, feathery
Sweet, plodding | Tangy, brisk

So here's a 2006 wine, not from the Rhone, but nearby Languedoc (Pic Saint Loup to be exact) which shows the virtues of the vintage. Beau Thorey Bogus Vin de Table 2006 is biodynamic, delicious, Carignane based wine, with a dash of Black Muscat thrown in for perfume. Its lifted, floral bouquet leads to a fresh, transparent palate with loads of black raspberry flavors, as well as a freshness, vivacity, and elegant palate persistence which I am increasingly associating with wines fermented using the yeasts which grow naturally on the grape skins.

And now for the exception to prove the rule...I just loved the 2005 Lucien Barrod Chateauneuf du Pape. Traditional vinification (namely no de-stemming, elevage in large foudres of used oak) and terrific fruit lead to a bright, lively red fruit/hibiscus oriented wine with an enjoyable, breathable, airy texture. It should age well.