I found this lurking in a liquor store in Salt Lake City for $13. Such finds are to be treasured, not because this is a great wine (it’s not) but because it’s an honest wine sourced from average grapes (the vineyard is near Fronsac), albeit from an excellent vintage, and not manipulated to taste sweet, soft, or smooth. In France, even ordinary wines are sometimes made with the assumption that the buyer may lay the wine down for a few years. The wine is allowed to develop on its own schedule without the new world’s obsession with making wines that are ready to drink as soon as they’re bottled.
It’s always interesting to see how inexpensive wines designed to age turn out. I imagine this was a beast when young but after several years of bottle age, it’s developing a soul, albeit a soul with an irascible core.
An aromatic dark knight with scents of black cherry, black plum, dry autumn leaves, and a hint of barnyard, immediately identifiable as French.
In the mouth, an overlay of gravel and dark chocolate buries the lush, ribald fruit and a seam of hard acidity gives the wine a truculent, unyielding personality. But it has personality–like your curmudgeonly uncle whose candor you find refreshing. There’s a lot of savory flavor, black olive and bitter herbs, and eight years after vintage date the tannins have a sandy texture with little grip, propelling a long, mouthwatering finish.
A bittersweet wine, like a rough hand, tender and calloused. Night Driver by Tom Petty shows the best side of this wine.
Technical Notes: A blend of 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc and 5% Malbec. Cold soaked, and then fermented in unlined cement vats, macerated for 25 days, and aged on the lees four months before aging in new and used demi-muids.
Price: $13 (not much of this left but check out Wine Searcher for other vintages that might be worth purchasing)